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Benin Education and Training



Officially there is compulsory schooling for children between six and twelve years. The school system is based in French and the children start the six-year primary school at the age of six. The state compulsory school is free of charge.

One of the government's main goals is to improve quality in the entire education sector, which has long been neglected. In Benin there is a well-educated elite, but the vast majority of Beninis lack access to good education. Poor working conditions have led to countless strikes among teachers.

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In recent years, the government has tried to increase the number of girls in compulsory school and literacy among Benin's girls has increased somewhat as more people attend school. Among school-aged children, almost 100 percent of boys start today, but only 88 percent of girls in primary school. About half of the boys and one-third of the girls read on at a four-year continuation stage, followed by another three years of study.

Benin's first university was founded in 1970 and is located in Cotonou. In 2001, a university was also started in Parakou and in addition there are some colleges in the country.

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Proportion of children starting primary school

97.0 percent (2017)

Number of pupils per teacher in primary school

44 (2017)

Reading and writing skills

32.9 percent (2012)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

18.8 percent (2016)

Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget

18.8 percent (2016)



The government wants to ban strikes

In recent months the manifestations of President Talon's economic reforms have prompted the government to submit a bill that would make it illegal to strike in the public sector. The bill is stopped by the Constitutional Court in early 2018. The Court declares that it violates the Constitution.


Continued protests against the government

October 20

Thousands of people are demonstrating in Cotonou's economic capital against President Talon's economic reforms. Demonstrated by trade unions, the protesters demand a halt to the privatizations of, among other things, state-owned companies and public hospitals initiated by the Talon government. There is widespread dissatisfaction with the cost of living rising, and health care has been affected by a series of strikes in recent months.


Grand fraudsters in court

June 29

One of Benin's largest trials is opening in Cotonou. 20 people are accused of cheating about 150,000 people through a so-called Ponzi scam against their savings against false promises of huge, quick profits. In total, the fraudsters are believed to have cheated the equivalent of close to SEK 2.3 billion between 2006 and 2010 (see Modern history). The government launched a compensation program for the victims in 2010, but tens of thousands of people are still waiting to get their money back. A Ponzi scam is reminiscent of a pyramid scheme, where the first investors make a profit on the money coming in from later investors.

Demonstration against liberalization campaign

June 22

Thousands of people take part in a protest demonstration in Cotonou against President Talon's efforts to liberalize the country's economy. At the same time, several unions are striking against the decision to let a private company manage the country's largest port.

Protests against economic reform

21 June

After just over a year as president, Patrice Talon is increasingly criticized for his methods of revitalizing Benin's economy. Opposition parties, community organizations and trade unions object to what they describe as "uncontrolled privatization" and "arbitrary redundancies". Opposition politicians and media also warn of the risk of conflicts of interest when Talon reorganized the cotton market, where he built up a billion fortune. He receives most criticism for the decision to transfer the operation of the port of Cotonou to a private company. The port is the engine of Benin's economy and accounts for about 80 percent of the state's tax revenue. In recent years, however, it has lagged behind in the competition with major ports in neighboring countries.


The president loses constitutional conflict

April 5

President Talon fails to get through his proposals for amended constitution in Parliament. He is supported by 60 members, while 22 are against and one casts his vote. A four-fifths majority was required to change the constitution.


The Minister of Defense resigns

March 27th

Defense Minister Candide Armand-Marie Azannai resigns in protest of President Talon's attempt to change the constitution. The proposal that the president should only be allowed to sit for a single term of office is seen by many as a laudable initiative on a continent where many leaders try to cling to power at all costs. But critics of the bill argue that a president who cannot be re-elected could abuse his position because he or she does not have to face the voters' judgment for a second term. Talon also wants to impose a limit on financial contributions to the political parties and promote positive discrimination for more women in politics.



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