Sao Tome and Principe (STP) achieved universal access to primary education in 2010 and provide significant coverage for children between the ages of 4 and 5 in preschool, placing the country above the average for sub-Saharan Africa.
However, quality still poses a significant challenge. Reading practice in the early grades begins with sentences such as “calulu (a typical meal) has okra” or “I like to eat safú (a local fruit).” Although these words are familiar to children in the country, many of them had difficulty or simply could not reading, even after years of schooling.
Low learning levels and high repetition rates
The 2019 National Assessment shows that two out of three students at the end of grade 2 and one in four of 4th graders do not have the basic skills in reading. The low learning performance is also characterized by geographic disparities and is made even more complex by successive failures: In 2017, 14% of STP students enrolled in primary education were repeaters.
This is much higher than the average repetition rate in sub-Saharan Africa (9.9%). At 23%, the percentage of repeaters is significantly higher in grade 2. The difficulties in the early grades are amplified over time: only 76% of the most vulnerable students reach the 6th grade compared to 96% of high-income students.