How Côte d’Ivoire aims to transform its education system
October 30, 2023 by Biney Jonh Francis, Ministry of Education, Côte d'Ivoire, Ludovic Signarbieux, GPE Secretariat, and Christophe Deconinck, GPE Secretariat |
3 minutes read

How national education community and development partners are working to improve the quality of education in Cote d’Ivoire and to define the basic structure of a new social contract to transform the country’s education system.


In 2021, the results of the Program for the Analysis of Educational Systems from CONFEMEN 2019 (PASEC) were published, sending shock waves throughout Côte d’Ivoire. According to the report, only 41% of children in their final year of primary school were above the satisfactory level for reading and only 17% had satisfactory proficiency in maths.

Despite the significant investments that the country has made in its education system, it had to acknowledge that the majority of boys and girls in Côte d’Ivoire did not acquire the basic skills required to open the door to a better future.

Large-scale consultations to identify causes and solutions

Education officials reacted quickly and organized the General Assembly on National Education and Literacy (EGENA) in 2022. These numerous, extensive and inclusive meetings have helped the national education community and development partners to identify and analyze the main sources of the problem and to offer recommendations.

The aim was to propose solutions to improve the quality of education and to define the basic structure of a new social contract to transform the country’s education system.

The assembly identified 42 reforms to be implemented over the next 10 years.

Its participative process is a solid base upon which the country and its partners have been able to build up a partnership pact.

Choosing a priority reform

The goal of the partnership compact is to zoom in even more the country’s vision on a priority reform, which could generate transformative changes in the education system. Côte d’Ivoire’s ambition is for all students to be able to read, write and do maths at the end of primary school by 2030.

To achieve this objective, the country elected as priority reform to improve foundational learning in order to make long-lasting changes to basic education.

Students in class at the community preschool in Nambirghékaha, near Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire. Credit: GPE/Rodrig Mbock
Students in class at the community preschool in Nambirghékaha, near Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire.
GPE/Rodrig Mbock

Defining lines of action and promoting gender equality

To improve fundamental learning, the compact is based on implementing the National Early Learning Program (PNAPAS).

This program, which starts in 2023/24, uses an approach based on cognitive science and neuropsychology to understand how children learn to read in their first years at school. It includes systematically opening a preschool class in primary schools, to prepare children to learn from an early age.

Côte d’Ivoire has already successfully managed these approaches in six underprivileged regions of the country with support from GPE and the World Bank in the context of PAPSE (Educational Services Improvement Project ).

The compact also aims to reduce barriers linked to gender and to promote equal access for all children.

In order to reduce inequality and stereotypes within the education system, the compact proposes measures such as training teachers, increasing female representation in the teaching body and school leadership, revising the curriculum and textbooks, promoting safety in schools and preventing violence.

To analyze the underlying causes that slow down system transformation, the compact plans to carry out studies in areas where data and evidence are limited. For example, to strengthen management of human resources, the compact plans studies to examine different forms of teacher attrition and their underlying causes.

In order to put this into practice, the country will launch an investigative study to analyze the barriers that restrict women in their roles as teachers and school leaders, in order to refine interventions and approaches that would lead to more female representation in the profession.

The beginning of the transformation

Over the last few months, Côte d’Ivoire has moved through crucial steps in analyzing, reaching consensus and agreeing on its primary objectives for the education sector. The country now has a precious roadmap that will help it to align and harmonize not only its numerous national contributors but also the external participants for better collaboration and a greater impact.

GPE will continue to support high-quality education for all girls and boys in Côte d’Ivoire, particularly through funding, and will be fully in line with the country’s reform decisions.

Francis Biney
Francis Biney
Inspector General, Ministry of National Education, Côte d’Ivoire

“By taking into account not only the technical abilities that education provides, but also ethical values such as respecting others, respecting all genders, protecting the environment, and all the skills needed in the 21st century, the education system can make long-lasting changes in society.”

Sabina Vigani
Sabina Vigani
Director for Côte d’Ivoire, Jacobs Foundation, coordination agency in Côte d’Ivoire

“Transforming education is about finding levers for systemic change to support the partner country, while moving away from a project mentality.”

Yves Jantzem
Yves Jantzem
Senior Operations Officer, World Bank Côte d’Ivoire

“Transforming education is about reinforcing the government’s ability to scale up programs to improve education, from primary school to higher education, without forgetting technical schooling and vocational training, in order to improve the employability of its beneficiaries. Transforming education means ensuring that the education system can adapt to future challenges.”

Mame Omar Diop
Mame Omar Diop
Resident Representative, UNESCO Côte d’Ivoire

“Transforming education in Côte d’Ivoire means changing the paradigm; it is no longer just about taking action in classrooms but also about remote education and getting the best learning results.”

Céline Gratadour
Céline Gradatour
Project Manager for Education and Vocational Training, French Development Agency

“Transforming the education system is about looking at the performance of the sector as a whole, from primary education to secondary education, because the aim is that children leave school as citizens.”

Ali Coulibaly
Ali Coulibaly
Education Specialist, World Bank Côte d’Ivoire

“Transforming education means ensuring that all partners work together and help the government to provide high-quality teaching for children, giving them hope for a better life.”

Maiga Seydou
Maiga Seydou
Director of Monitoring and Evaluation at PAPSE

“Transforming education in Côte d’Ivoire is about taking actions so that children can truly learn and keeping them in school for as long as possible, because an educated population will be able to completely transform the economy.”

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