Education & Jobs

Low school attendance

Schooling isn’t free in Burkina Faso. In such a poor country, attendance is therefore low. This is particularly the case in rural areas, where children often drop out of school at an early age.

Only two-thirds of primary-aged children are enrolled at school and just 40 percent of young people (aged 15-24 years) are literate (UNESCO).

However, boys are much more likely to be able to read and write than girls. If a family can afford to send only some of its children to school, boys will receive preference.

Schooling in French

Children are taught in French at school, even though many Burkinabes speak a local language as their mother tongue.

  • School day plan in French
  • At school in Burkina Faso

French qualifications are used in education. For those fortunate enough to go all the way through school, the final qualification is the French baccalauréat.

Because Burkina Faso has a limited number of places at university or college, some well-off students travel to Senegal or France for their higher education.

Most jobs are in agriculture

basic plough instrument laying in field of crops in Burkina FasoWith its mainly rural population, the majority of people (eight out of ten) work in agriculture, often in subsistence farming where they raise livestock and grow foods mainly for their own needs. However, communities often rely on small-scale local activities to earn a little cash.

In some communities, women brew beer or make soap from shea butter in order to sell at local markets. See the video of local women in Bobo-Dioulasso coming together to make soap.

In the south and west, many farmers are involved in growing cotton, the country’s main export. The cotton industry as a whole employs over 2.7 million people.

In 2011, a wave of unrest hit Burkina with the rising cost of living. After students and soldiers protested at the start of the year, workers in a number of sectors – such as the police, teachers and cotton farmers – all staged protests and strikes over pay.