The children

Early years

Primary school years



Primary school years

smiling primary school children
© UNICEF Madagascar/2009

Under the Millennium Development Goals, Madagascar hopes to achieve primary education for all by the year 2015. The country’s growing primary school enrollment rates over recent years have been impressive; and the number of children enrolled in primary school has increased from almost 2.5 million in 2001-2002, to nearly 4.5 million in 2008-2009.

Yet with the onset of the political crisis in 2009, and the economic decline that has followed, national spending on education has been cut. Exacerbated by this immediate threat, there are serious constraints facing primary education.

Low completion rates are a direct result of a lack of capacity: there are not enough trained teachers in Madagascar, and there are not enough classrooms.There are still 400,000 children (14 percent) between the ages of six and ten that are not in school. Among those who are enrolled, many will not receive an adequate education, or complete their primary school years.  

An estimated 2,000-3,000 classrooms will be needed every year between now and 2015 if Madagascar is to achieve primary education for all. In addition to this, classrooms currently damaged or destroyed in cyclones and tropical storms need to be rehabilitated.

children build model in school
© UNICEF Madagascar/2009

In remote communities, children’s access to a complete primary school education is the most challenging. In 19 percent of school districts more than 40 percent of primary schools are incomplete, offering only two to three years of education; and 14 percent of communities that should be served by a primary school, do not have one. 

In regions vulnerable to cyclones and tropical storms, hundreds of classrooms are damaged or destroyed each year. The problems facing primary school education in Madagascar extend beyond building and rehabilitating classrooms though. The majority of Malagasy children are taught by poorly trained teachers with few learning materials, and fewer amenities. 

Although public primary school education in Madagascar is free, for many families it is difficult to cover the cost of school expenses like uniforms, exercise books and pencils. Many children work before and after school to supplement their household income.





Fast facts

For every 100 children that enter the first grade, only 60 will complete the full five-year cycle of primary education.

Just 13 percent of public primary schools have access to water and only 24 percent have latrines.

Meet Manjo

Manjo studies at the Ankilimanintsy II primary school in Madagascar's Androy region, one of the country's poorest regions. Manjo's small, rural school only offers first and second grade. Meet him as he starts the second grade for the third time.


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