Education System in Mauritania
Mauritanian education begins at the pre-primary level where children aged 4 to 6 attend Koranic school where they are encouraged to memorize verses from the Koran. At age 6 they enter formal education which is compulsory and supposed to be free for all. However poorer families are often unable to afford the cost of education materials and school feeding, especially in rural areas. Primary school lasts for 6 years from ages 6 to 12. At the end of this period, children sit for an examination for their Certificat d'Etudes Primaires Elémentaires or CEPE.
The first 4 years of secondary education take place at colleges where a general academic curriculum is followed. To proceed further to a Lycée, students must either receive a favorable report, or obtain a Brevet d'Etudes du Premier Cycle diploma.
The final three years of the Mauritanian school education program take place at Lycées. Here, there is a choice of programs between arabic & islam, modern languages, natural sciences, and mathematics. The national examination that follows is for a baccalaureat that is the key to a university education.
Lower order tertiary institutions include the National School of Administration, the National Teachers School and the National School of Public Health.
The only Mauritanian university is the University of Nouakchott that opened its doors in 1981. It has 3 Faculties, namely Arts & Social Sciences, Economy & Law, and Technical Sciences. Here a Diplome du Premier Cycle d'Etudes Universitaires may be obtained after 2 years, while a degree known as a Maitrise requires twice that time.