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Education in Guinea-Bissau

Guinea-Bissau’s education sector plan is in line with the poverty reduction strategy, which recognizes that the education sector has been negatively affected by the country’s state of crisis.

The education sector strategy will contribute to the country’s goals of promoting economic growth and job creation, increasing access to social services and basic infrastructure, and improving the living standards of vulnerable groups.

Despite the recurrent political crisis, Guinea-Bissau has made significant progress in education. According to a report published in August 2015 (RESEN), the primary completion rate increased from 26% in 2000 to 59% in 2013.

But the country still faces several challenges. The repetition rate is high and there are large numbers who drop out of primary school. There are also significant disparities across regions, gender, and standards of living.

The Three-Year Plan for the Development of Education 2011-2013 is an interim education plan supporting the main goal of achieving a six-year primary education cycle for all children by 2020.

The sector plan also outlines 10 other objectives for education policy to pursue:

  1. Promote preschool education
  2. Increase the availability of the 3rd cycle of primary education in order to provide nine years of education to the majority of children.
  3. Improve the quality of secondary education and lengthen the cycle to three years.
  4. Give children the life skills needed to function in society.
  5. Improve higher education and promote scientific research in order to ensure that the needs of society and demands of the economy are met.
  6. Develop literacy programs for adults.
  7. Improve the management of the education system through distributing resources efficiently and adopting new measures that will lead to better learning results for student.
  8. Promote equality across gender, socio-economic status, and residential environment.
  9. Increase the private sector’s role at the secondary and higher education levels.
  10. Improve school health and safety, and develop attitudes for good citizenship and maintaining peace.

The education sector plan describes specific activities for meeting these objectives in pre-school, primary and secondary school, technical education and vocational training, higher education and scientific research, library and informal education, and management. These activities include constructing or rehabilitating infrastructure, setting up new systems for recruiting, training, and deploying teachers, and improving and providing teaching and learning materials.

With support from a GPE grant, the country is preparing its next education sector plan for the period 2017-2026.


All amounts are in US dollars.

Grant type Years Allocations Disbursements Grant agent
Program implementation 2018-2023 4,700,000 - IBRD
2012-2017 12,000,000 10,750,733 UNICEF
Program development 2016 200,000 15,020 IBRD
  TOTAL 16,900,000 10,765,753  


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 completion rate (%)

Lower secondary completion rate

Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age

Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age

Pre-primary gross enrollment rate

Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary

Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)

Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)

Students/trained teacher ratio

Teachers trained (%)

GPE in Guinea-Bissau

A school boy looks at the camera in Guinea Bissau. Credit: Ora International

The GPE grant of US$12 million focuses on improving the learning and teaching environment in primary education through supporting the government’s Three Year Interim Education Sector Plan.

The three components of the grant are:

  1. Increase the availability of adequate school infrastructure and facilities through construction of classrooms and related facilities, and equipment provision.
  2. Increase the availability of learning resources through reviewing the curriculum in primary education, providing more textbooks, and supporting pre-service and in-service teacher training.
  3. Strengthen management capacity through supporting recruitment of staff, training, enhancing management systems, and improving monitoring and evaluation functions. This component also focuses on financing selected sector studies to assist in preparing a full 10-year education sector plan.

UNICEF is the grant agent for the GPE grant and also assumes the role of coordinating agency.


During its first phase, the GPE program in Guinea-Bissau has contributed to improving access, learning conditions, and learning outcomes in the education sector through:

  • Construction of 130 new classrooms at the primary level, equipped with 5,200 desks for students and teachers, benefitting an estimated 9,100 children per year in 60 schools.
  • Building sanitation facilities in 52 schools.
  • Provision of more than 445,000 textbooks to students from 1st to 6th grades in public, community and private schools. This resulted in a pupil/textbook ratio of 1:1.
  • Developing a national system for learning assessment.

Source: Support to education for all implementation in Guinea-Bissau, UNICEF progress report No. 3, February 2016

Last updated January 26, 2018