School and Education in Guinea-Bissau

Training

Education is compulsory only at the elementary school level. It starts at the age of seven and lasts for six years. The supplementary education starts at the age of 13 and comprises five years, divided into a three-year middle school and a two-year higher secondary school. About 75% of children attend school, but many quit prematurely. The proportion of girls in primary school is almost as high as the proportion of boys. There are two universities in the capital Bissau, one state and one private. In addition, two Portuguese universities have branches in the country.

The illiteracy of the adult population (over 15 years) was previously one of the highest in the world, but since independence it has declined and in 2009, literacy was estimated at a total of 52% (67% for men and 38% for women).

Immediately before a state visit to Portugal in December 2009, President Sanhá fainted. He was brought to Senegal and on to France, where the diagnosis was diabetic. However, after lengthy visits and treatments, the president died in January 2012. The post was taken over by Raimundo Pereira. He had since 2008 chaired the People’s Assembly.

Two weeks before Sanha’s death, in December 2011, Admiral Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto conducted a new coup attempt. Army Chief Antonio Indjai was reportedly arrested and Prime Minister Gomes sought refuge at Angola’s embassy. After a few hours, however, loyal troops intervened and the picture reversed. Na Tchuto was arrested for coup attempt.

Sanhá died on January 9, 2012, and in accordance with the constitution that provided for new presidential elections within 90 days, an election was held in April.

Guinea-Bissau Country Flag

Guinea-Bissau flag source: Countryaah.com

2012 Military Cup

On April 12, 2012, the military took power in a coup, ousted the president and instead deployed a National Transitional Council to lead the country to new elections. The coup was conducted between the 1st and 2nd round of presidential elections in the country, and in May the military deployed Manuel Serifo Nhamadjo as transitional president. He had been a candidate in the election and had received the 3rd most votes.

The military coup was a direct consequence of the 1st round of elections won by PAIGC’s Carlos Gomez Júnior, who had been prime minister until January. He had previously spoken out in favor of military reform, which had made him thoroughly unpopular within this institution. The military was deeply involved in anesthesia smuggling through the country and individual officers did not want to lose the lucrative revenue.

The military coup was condemned both regionally and internationally, although the military tried to give it legitimacy by forming a unifying government and involving both PAIGC and the opposition. The stabilizing troops Angola and the UN had in the country were withdrawn in June. In October, a new minor military coup attempt was conducted, which was turned down. At the end of the year, among other things, the North American DEA that drug traffic through Guinea-Bissau was increased in the second half of the year.

The country’s economy was further weakened during 2013 as a result of the political crisis and falling prices of cachewood – an important export product. The country’s teachers went on strike several times throughout the year in protest of the lack of payroll payments and health workers conducted a similar 7-day strike in June. The UN envoy to the country described it as dangerously close to being a failed state. Attempts to implement military reforms initiated in 2012 were suspended with the military coup in 12.

After many postponements, presidential and parliamentary elections were held in April/May 2014. It was won by PAIGC and its presidential candidate José Mário Vaz. PAIGC received 48.0% of the vote, but due to the design of the electoral system, it reached 57 seats and thus a majority in the 102-seat parliament. However, there was a decline of 10 seats as compared to the 2008 elections. In the first round of elections, José Mário Vaz got 40.9% of the vote, while independent candidate Nono Gomez Nabiam got 24.8%. In the second round in May, Vaz got 61.9%, while Nabiam had to settle for 38.1%. The turnout was high. 89.3% in the first round and 78.2% in the second. Vaz had been Minister of Finance in the Sanha government in 2009, but had been ousted by the coup in 2012 and exiled in Portugal. He inaugurated Domingos Simões Pereira in July 2014 as his prime minister. At its deployment, Vaz promised to focus on reducing poverty and investment in agricultural production.