The school system in Burundi was until 2011 a six-year primary school followed by seven years of secondary school. After the 10th grade, a technical diploma (A2 diploma) could be aimed for, for example to become a nurse or laboratory assistant, which subsequently also allowed for university studies. Since 2011 the primary school has been attended as a 9 year old. The school and training system is generally based on the European model, above all on the Belgian education system. The predominantly Catholic missionaries had a major influence on the structure and content of the lessons.
According to homosociety, the education system in Burundi is generally in a desolate state, heavily politicized, often paralyzed by strikes, is noticeable by irregularities in processes and is highly dependent on external financial support, such as UNESCO, UNICEF and various small donation programs, including German ones Page. In particular, investments must be made in building schools and in training the teaching staff. The average class size is 80 students, the graduation rate is only around 48%. The average school time per child is given as around 2.5 years. The way to school is often very long, as the dispersed type of settlement predominates in Burundi, i.e. the houses are often far apart and therefore there is seldom settlement agglomeration, except in larger centers. Kindergartens are hardly attended at all: only about 5% of all children go to the so-called “école maternelle”, most kindergarten children come from the upper class.
The primary school has been free since 2005, a big step for the government and a big improvement over previous conditions. The enrollment rate has since (girls) in 2012 increased from 57% to 73.1 (boys) or 74.3, the literacy year in adolescents from 53% in 1990 to 89.6% (15-24 years, boys) or 88.1% (15-24 years, girls) 2012. Nevertheless, this does not guarantee a good school system: the costs for school uniforms, shoes and school fees for secondary school, the so-called “minérval”, are still too high. Girls also still seem to be disadvantaged and the number of early school leavers is quite high.
The general shortage of teachers, the poor qualification and also the pay of the teaching staff, the large classes and mostly poorly equipped schools pose major problems for education in Burundi. School is often dropped out early. People are aware of this and strategies exist, but there is a lack of funds to change the education system. Often teachers’ salaries are not paid or paid late, leaving them with no other option but to strikesee to get their salary anyway. The reforms carried out under international pressure or advice without the creation of significant basic structures, such as well-qualified teaching staff or sufficient teaching material or the recognition of the need for school education in the population, even seem to lead to a deterioration in the educational situation in Burundi. In 2018 Burundi tries a new beginning of a fundamental school reform, at least in the primary school sector. It remains to be seen to what extent the level of education can be improved over what period of time.
In Burundi there is a state and a large number of private universities, which, however, are hardly efficient and which often work on the edge of legality. They are particularly affected by the effects of decades of unrest, the shortage of qualified teachers and general financial emergencies – especially the state Université du Burundi – as are secondary schools and technical colleges, which are mainly organized as boarding schools. Some of them are religiously oriented. The students at the national university receive little support from the state. Lack of space and new restrictions on the government in 2017 – including a ban on demonstrations and the threat of having to repay the meager support of the equivalent of 17 euros a month after graduation – frustrate many students. 18% of the state budget is earmarked for education. Half of this is spent on secondary and tertiary education. While the enrollment rate is still relatively high, just under half of the students make the leap to secondary schools and only around 4.4% of a year go to university.
Alcohol plays a role in social understanding in Burundian society. It is not uncommon for young people to be exposed to the risk of alcohol addiction. Children, adolescents and young adults account for more than 60% of Burundi’s population. They are particularly hard hit by Burundi’s problems such as poor education, insufficient access to health centers and unemployment. Many graduates become unemployed despite having a relatively good education. Those who try to generate smaller projects in the service sector on their own are brave. Agriculture too relies in large part on the youth. But even it cannot bring about any socio-political changes; these must come from politics and business. The young people are often losers in Burundian society, in rural areas affected by poverty, hunger and a lack of prospects. More than every fourth child (27% of girls and 26% of boys) are from child labor affected, many children work as domestic servants. Ethnic problems also still affect many young people in Burundi. Although Vision 2025 classified the young people as particularly worthy of support, implementation is slow. Recently there have been several attempts to actively involve young people in politics and to meet them on the other side, for example with a new radio program for young people. Also other, some international programs, try the Burundian youth, especially in education policy to support.
A worrying development is the political formation of youth groups, the majority of which follow the CNDD-FDD, the so-called Imbonerakure. Similar to the Interahamwe in Rwanda, who were involved in the genocide in 1994, the youth in Burundi are also highly manipulable and therefore dangerous as local militias.