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HomeCountriesEast Africa › Comoros

Comoros Country AET Profile

About Comoros

Education is compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16 years. The higher-level institutions had 348 students in 1996. Projected adult illiteracy rates for the year 2000 stand at 43.8% (males, 36.5%; females, 50.9%). In the mid-1990s, more than 20% of the central government budget was allocated to education.

The economy of the Comoros is primarily agricultural, with arable land comprising 45% of the total land area. Among the chief crops in 1999, in tons, were manioc, 53,000; coconuts, 75,000; bananas, 59,000; sweet potatoes, 15,000; rice, 17,000; corn, 4,000; and copra, 9,000. Other crops include sugarcane, sisal, peppers, spices, coffee, and various perfume plants such as ylang-ylang, abelmosk, lemon grass, jasmine, and citronella. The chief export crops are vanilla, cloves, ylang-ylang, and copra. The Comoros, including Mayotte, account for about 80% of world production of ylang-ylang essence, which is used in some perfumes. Marketed exports in 2001 included 70 tons of dried vanilla, valued at nearly $5.7 million.

Food demand is not met by domestic production, so Comoros is highly dependent on imported foods, especially rice. Over half of all foodstuffs are imported, and about 50% of the government's annual budget is spent on importing food. Agricultural productivity is extremely low, and cultivation methods are rudimentary. Fertilizer is seldom used by smallholders. About 20% of the cultivated land belongs to company estates; 20% to indigenous landowners who live in towns and pay laborers to cultivate their holdings; and 60% to village reserves allotted according to customary law. Agriculture contributed about 41% to GDP in 2000.

Comoros has no university but post-secondary education, which in 1993 involved 400 students, is available in the form of teacher training, agricultural education training, health sciences, and business. Those desiring higher education must study abroad; a "brain drain" has resulted because few university graduates are willing to return to the islands. Teacher training and other specialized courses are available at the M'Vouni School for Higher Education, in operation since 1981 at a site near Moroni. Few Comoran teachers study overseas, but the republic often cannot give its teachers all the training they need. Some international aid has been provided, however, to further teacher training in the islands themselves. For example, in 1987 the IDA extended credits worth US$7.9 million to train 3,000 primary and 350 secondary school teachers. In 1986 the government began opening technology training centers offering a three-year diploma program at the upper secondary level. The Ministry of National Education and Professional Training is responsible for education policy.

As elsewhere in Comoran society, political instability has taken a toll on the education system. Routinely announced reductions in force among the civil service, often made in response to international pressure for fiscal reform, sometimes result in teacher strikes. When civil service cutbacks result in canceled classes or examinations, students have at times taken to the streets in protest. Students have also protested, even violently, against government underfunding or general mismanagement of the schools--the World Bank stated in 1994 that the quality of education resulted in high rates of repetition and dropouts such that the average student needed fourteen years to complete the six-year primary cycle.

Institutions in Comoros

Reports on Comoros
Comoros - Current Student Enrolment and Academic Staffing

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