UNICEF, with the support of the Global Partnership for Education, launched the “Back to School” campaign to help more than one million children get learning materials in seven of the most deprived...
In December 2017, the Global Partnership for Education Secretariat approved a US$234,000 grant for Burundi to develop a new education program.
A back to school campaign in Burundi, launched by UNICEF in October 2017 with support from the Global Partnership for Education, puts the spotlight on the importance of education

Education in Burundi

The government of Burundi has identified education as a core focus of its long-term development vision. In 2016 Burundi allocated 27.5% of its public expenditure budget to education, equivalent to 9% of GDP (Source: Ministry of Finance).

The current education sector plan, Programme sectoriel de développement de l’éducation et de la formation (PSDEF) covers the years 2012-2020 and sets out to “achieve universal primary education and to educate the majority of youth until they reach an age where they can find their place in society.”

To achieve this vision, the government of Burundi has laid out the following sector priorities:

  1. Decongestion of schools and increased fluidity between education levels through:
    • classroom construction,
    • reduction of repetition rates,
    • reduction of double-shift classrooms so as to increase actual learning time.
  2. Reform of the secondary school cycle to introduce a nine year basic education cycle and encourage secondary school enrollment after six years of primary
  3. Strengthening sector-management through:
    • accelerated decentralization,
    • improvement in financial management, human resource management, pedagogical supervision,
    • data collection,
    • better construction planning and management.
  4. Increasing equity through:
    • reduction of double-shift schools, disadvantageous to both teachers and students,
    • inclusion of gender issues in the curriculum,
    • increased support to students with special needs by working with NGOs and other partners to establish pilot programs,
    • construction of accessible schools.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent
Program implementation 2016-2018 20,100,000 10,669,453 UNICEF
2013-2016 32,800,000 32,800,000 Belgium
Sector plan development 2017 416,927 - UNICEF
Program development 2017 234,000 - AFD
  TOTAL 53,550,927 43,469,453  


Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.


Primary Gross Enrollment Rate (%)

Primary Completion Rate (%)

Lower Secondary Completion Rate (%)

Out-of-school Children Rate (%)

Domestic Financing

Public Expenditure on Education as Share of GDP (%)

Public Expenditure on Education as a Share of Public Expenditure (%)

Public Expenditure on Primary as a Share of Total Education Expenditure (%)


Student/Trained teacher ratio

Teachers Trained (%)

GPE in Burundi

A school child smiles in the courtyard of Kanyosha Primary School in Burundi. Credit: UNICEF Burundi/Nijimbere

In 2012, the GPE Board of Directors approved a grant of US$52.9 million for 2013-2016 with Belgium as grant agent.

The political crisis that the country had lived through since 2015 has affected the education sector::

  • several schools were closed, students missed exams, and the school year 2015-2016 could not start on time
  • there were large population displacements inside the country and to neighboring countries
  • some schools were occupied by police or military forces, and the political neutrality of the education sector was threatened in certain areas.

The crisis also led several development partners to suspend their funding and leave the country, thus reducing sector resources.

Initially set up as a pooled-fund arrangement aligned to Burundi’s education sector plan, the grant was restructured in 2016, one year after the political crisis started and is now managed as a program focusing on a few of the key priorities of the Sector plan, with UNICEF as grant agent; its closing date was revised to 2018.

The program’s objective, in line with the priorities that had been identified at the start of the program, is to minimize the impact of the crisis on the education system and children’s schooling. It has three components:

  1. Consolidate access to education and improve equity in basic education through school building and rehabilitation, equipment and awareness campaigns
  2. Improve education quality, including through curriculum reform
  3. Improve management of the education system through capacity building and better data collection and analysis.

In Burundi, the local education group is co-led by UNICEF (coordinating agency).

Source: Program document for Burundi. July 2012


The pooled fund has contributed to achieving the following results since 2013:

  • The repetition rate was 22% in cycles 1 to 3 (former primary education) in 2015-2016 compared to 29.1% in 2012-2013
  • The repetition rate in cycle 4 (former lower secondary education) was 14.8% in 2015-2016, compared to 22.1% in 2012-2013
  • The ratio of pupils per classroom in basic education is 73 in 2012-2013 and 2015-2016
  • Introduction of a 7th year of schooling in primary school (called “enseignement fondamental”), allowing more than 181,201 students to continue to attend school rather than dropping out at the level of secondary.
  • The gender parity ratio improved to 1.01 in 2015-2016, compared to 0.98 in 2013. However, the national trend favoring girls hides considerable disparities in provinces such as Cibitoke, Kirundo, and Muyinga, where more boys than girls attend school.
  • 45 classrooms, 50 latrine blocks and 5 administrative blocks have been built,
  • 15 water catchment systems and 5 water supply systems have been constructed, (Page 12)
  • 2,600,000 students and 32,000 teachers have received school and teaching kits,
  • 10 community agents were trained in community mobilization and theatrical art,
  • 8,400 people attended theatrical performances on school dropping-out and 169 people participated in community dialogues on the same topic,
  • 7 community networks have been established to support demand for education and efforts to retain children at school,
  • A first cohort of trainers has received training on the new curriculum for fundamental education,
  • 1,720,000 learning materials and 34,400 teacher’s guides for 5th grade are going to press,
  • 1,056,000 learning materials and 24,000 teacher’s guides for 4th grade are going to press,
  • 15,000 teacher’s guides for 3rd grade are going to press,
  • 440,000 teaching boards for preschool, first, second and third grades are ready for distribution at the beginning of school year 2017/18.

Sources: Burundi EMIS and Rapport d’Exécution du Programme d’Appui pour la Consolidation de l’Enseignement Fondamental, 2016–2017

Last updated December 21, 2017