Uninhabited until it was colonized by Europe in the mid-1400s, Cape Verde is considered one of the great success stories of Africa. Briefly a province of Portugal before its independence in 1975, Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, has benefited from a strong democracy and its partnerships with three continents. Education has thrived in this stable country off the west coast of Africa. Part of the Lusiphone world, Cape Verde looks toward the Portuguese model for its educational structure. While Cape Verde may have taken great strides in development during at the turn of the century, it still has many challenges to overcome in terms of inequality and employment for students completing their educational paths.
Beginning in the late 1990s, the major educational reforms began taking place across the archipelago. Though the length of time for implementation may indicate the kinds of challenges Cape Verde faces, as of last year the nation was able to fully implement compulsory education through grade 8, called “Escola Basica.” This is followed by two, two-year cycles in secondary education for both general and technical modalities (1° and 2° Ciclo-Via Geral e Tecnica). Lead by the Ministério da Educação de Cabo Verde (the Ministry of Education of Cabo Verde), the nation intends to extend compulsory education gradually to include the first cycle of secondary education, followed by the second cycle through year 12.
At the end of the first cycle of secondary education, students who wish to pursue vocation education may enter a three-year vocational program through the Instituições de Ensino Médio (Institutions of Intermediate Education). While these programs may continue into the 13th year of education, they do not grant admission into post-secondary educational programs unless the student attains an "Equivalencia", from an authorized institution or the Comissão National de Equivalência.
Tertiary education did not exist in Cape Verde prior to 1979 when the creation of the Curso de Formação de Professores do Ensino Secundário (CFPES, "Secondary Education Teacher Training Course") began providing educators with post-secondary educational training. As a consequence of the reforms of the 1990s, this became CFPES became Instituto Superior de Educação (ISE, "High Education Institute"). A number of other post-secondary institutes followed, including the University of Cape Verde, Instituto Nacionai de Investigação e Desenvolvimento Agrário, and Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde.
In an effort to align themselves with trends of education in Europe, Cape Verde follows the Licenciate, Master, Doctor (LMD) progression of tertiary credentials. The licenciatura is a four-year degree requiring completion of the second cycle of secondary education. A mestrado, requiring the completion of a licenciatura, is a two-year graduate program granting admission to a doutoramento program. Doutoramento programs, completed at the level of a Doctor of Philosophy degree, may vary in length.
Cape Verde is still undergoing great changes in terms of their education system. From the structure of its schools shifting into larger, numbered “agrupamentos,” to increasing demands on the qualifications and teaching styles of educators, Cape Verde is a country with great ambitions for its educational sector. Continued changes to its growing educational sector are anticipated for the decades to come.