Under the ruling of the MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertaçâo de Angola - People’s Movement for the Freedom of Angola), Marxism-Leninism was declared the basis for primary education, respecting traditional African values as well. Missionary schools were nationalized and private or religious organizations were not allowed to open schools.
Primary education is compulsory for four years, starting at seven years old until 11, and each school year has 171 days. Secondary education starts at eleven and lasts for eight years but many children do not continue with secondary education or higher studies. Especially in the case of girls, they tend to stay at home helping their families so they do not attend school as long or as often as boys. However, around 67% of the population over the age of 15 can read and write in Portuguese.
Although education is free, many schools were destroyed and looted during the long civil war so now they are overpopulated (sometimes there are 50 students per class). Often students need to bring their own material to class, including not only notebooks and pens but also, chairs. Another difficulty is the fact that often, schools are open air and classes may take place under a tree, so when the weather is bad, classes are cancelled.
Again due to the civil war there is a lack of qualified and trained teachers. Anyone with a Licenciatura (five year university degree) can take the exam to become a teacher, so the quality is not ideal either (40% of teachers are not properly qualified).
In the early 2000s, the Angolan budget for education was increased, nevertheless, it is not enough for the reconstruction of schools, the material needed and the salary of teachers, amongst other issues.
In 2009, the Ministry of Education implemented a new policy based on the Cuban system of education and brought some Cuban teachers to Angola as an experimental project. They expect to reduce the illiteracy rate to a minimum by 2014.
Also, with the help of UNICEF and the aim of reducing overcrowded classes, the government is building more schools in different provinces and improving existing conditions since some schools do not have even basic sanitary facilities.
Often, if children want to continue their studies into secondary education, they must move to a regional capital city, so most children do not continue.
Secondary education can last up to 7 years and is not free. The first three years are considered part of primary education but they are not compulsory. There are two programs, one that lasts three years (vocational secondary) and another that lasts four years (pre-university).
Both paths award students the diploma of Habilitaçoes Literarias (Secondary School Certificate). The graduation system in Angola is from 0 to 20, 20 being the best grade and 10 being the minimum required to pass (Suficiente). For a score of 13 to 15, you get a Bom (Good), and from 15 to 20, Excelente (Excellent).
In order to access higher education in Angola, students must hold a diploma of Habilitaçoes Literarias (Secondary School Certificate) and pass an entrance exam.
Their knowledge of Portuguese must be of a high level. After three years of study, students are awarded the Bacharelato, equivalent to a Bachelors degree. It can be followed by two more years in order to obtain a licenciatura, similar to a Master’s degree.
For a doctorate degree, the licenciatura is awarded after six years instead. As a postgraduate, you can continue your studies to obtain the diploma of Mestre or Doctor.
There are several universities in Angola, many are private or religious (mostly Catholic) and some are linked to European institutions. Less than 0.7% of the Angolan population attend university.