Education & Jobs
Schooling in Madagascar should be compulsory between 6–14 years, with the first six years at primary school, followed by three years at junior secondary level.
A hot meal
Many children in Madagascar are malnourished – see Poverty & Healthcare. This means that parents often send their children to school if they will be provided with a meal. International agencies, such as the World Food Programme, help to support school feeding programmes. This is not only important to help reduce stunted growth, but also because hungry children find it much harder to study and learn.
However, children from poorer families may not be able to attend school. This is more common since much international funding was stopped after a coup in 2009 – see History & Politics. Since then schools have received less money from the government and some have begun charging fees to make up for lost income. This has caused enrolment rates at primary school to drop over the last few years.
The quality of education is also very variable. Many teachers are ‘community teachers’, which means they have no formal training.
Less than two-thirds of children in Madagascar pass the end-of-primary school exam.
The poor quality of education received by many Malagasy means that it’s common for people to rely on informal jobs, small-scale farming and handcrafts for earning a living.
Students who complete junior secondary receive a certificate of graduation. If they come from well-off families, they can then go on to study for another three years at senior secondary. Here, many pupils study for a baccalaureat, which is required for entry into universities.
Some students choose vocational courses at secondary level, which also lead to a baccalaureat. Vocational courses are offered by technical colleges.
Key job sectors
While many jobs in Madagascar centre around agriculture and the processing of food, the mining sector is becoming more important.
Tourism is also a key source of revenue for the island and this brings extra jobs in the service sectors.
Cyclones regularly hit Madagascar – see Climate & Agriculture – and can cause extensive damage. For example, in 2010, tropical storm Hubert struck the south-east of the island and left much destruction in its wake. The UN’s child agency (UNICEF) set up temporary facilities where children could go to school and repaired over 80 classrooms which had been damaged by flooding.