In late March 2020, the UNICEF office in Mauritania received a GPE grant of US$70,000 to support the Ministry of Education in planning its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Education in Mauritania
Mauritania has remained to developing its education sector since 1999, when the government began a structural reform of the education system. The government’s medium-term vision is to achieve universal completion of primary education and to regulate and improve the relevance and quality of post-primary levels.
The education sector has seen significant progress within the last years, particularly in terms of primary schooling access and completion. Between 2000-2001 and 2012-2013, the gross enrollment rates increased from 88% to 97%. The primary completion rates also rose from 53% in 2002 to 71% in 2013.
Despite this progress, several issues persist and still need to be addressed in the sector. They include:
- low quality basic education
- low access to and quality of secondary education
- weak involvement of civil society, local communities, and the private sector
- low transition rate to secondary school was only 55% for girls and 61% for boys in 2013
- the lack of qualified teachers in secondary school.
To address these issues, the country has developed its second education sector plan (PNDSE II), which covers the period of 2011–2020. This plan encompasses 11 objectives:
- Develop access of disadvantaged groups in urban and rural areas to public and community preschool education,
- Promote access to education for out-of-school children and foster retention of those in school to achieve primary universal completion by 2020,
- Progress towards universal completion of secondary education and reduce disparities related to gender, geographic and socio-economic conditions,
- Regulate the flow in numbers of students and teaching force in secondary education in order to better align the education system outputs with the market needs,
- Develop technical and vocational training adapted to social demand and the needs of the formal and informal sectors of the economy,
- Establish a balanced development policy for higher education and promote scientific research,
- Improve learning quality and relevance of education at all levels,
- Fight illiteracy through functional literacy and post-literacy programs,
- Promote traditional teaching and enhance its contribution to basic education,
- Develop and implement new management strategy of human resources and materials for equitable distribution of educational opportunities and for effective transformation of inputs into results,
- Strengthen management in the sector by pursuing the decentralization process, involving all stakeholders, and developing management tools.
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The current GPE-funded program, the Mauritania Basic Education Sector Support Project (BESSP), began in May 2014. The project's objective is to improve the quality of pre-service teacher training of primary school teachers and promote equitable access to lower secondary education. It targets the six most vulnerable regions: Hod Chatghi, Guidi maka, Gorgol, Brakna, Tagan and Adrar.
The BESSP has three inter-related components:
- Improving the quality of teaching in primary education by (i) enhancing the quality of pre-service teacher training and (ii) improving the learning environment in primary and lower secondary schools
- Promoting equitable access to lower secondary education by increasing access to lower secondary education for girls and supporting equity through measures to promote girls' schooling
- Strengthening the management of the education sector by strengthening monitoring and evaluation capacity as well as sector coordination.
The ministry of education leads the GPE supported program with the World Bank as grant agent and the French Development Agency (AFD) as the coordinating agency. UNICEF plays the role of chair of the donor group (Chef de File).
All amounts are in US dollars.
|Grant type||Years||Allocations||Disbursements||Grant agent|
|Program implementation and multiplier||2020||12,000,000||0||World Bank|
|Program implementation||2014-2018||12,400,000||12,000,987||World Bank||Completion report|
|2008-2012||13,998,039||13,998,039||World Bank||Completion report|
|Program development||2018-2019||200,000||198,197||World Bank|
GPE has also provided the Coalition of Mauritanian Organizations for Education (COMEDUC) with a grant from the Civil Society Education Fund, to support its engagement in education sector policy dialogue and citizens’ voice in education quality, equity, and financing and sector reform.
Education sector progress
The graphs below show overall progress in the education sector in Mauritania, and GPE data shows the country progress on 16 indicators monitored in the GPE Results Framework.
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 (%)
Students/trained teacher ratio
Teachers Trained (%)
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.