Cape Verde’s education system has undergone a remarkable and positive transformation since the country gained its independence from Portugal in 1975. It has gone from an illiteracy rate of close to 80% at independence, to a literacy rate of about 90% now.
More importantly, it went from having almost no educational infrastructure – with only two high schools in the whole country as recently as 1982, and no universities – to having more than 40 high schools and two universities.
Unlike many other African countries, which concentrated on building up their universities when they gained their independence, Cape Verde adopted a different strategy. They instead focused firstly on primary education and teacher training, then as the population aged, they added more educational facilities at higher levels.
“Cape-Verdean society started to grow and look for higher education,” explained Dr. Antonio Silva, the country’s Minister for Higher Education. “So we had to make the effort for the creation of the public university and align the university with a development project.”
It wasn’t until 2001 that the country established its first university, the Universidade Jean Piaget (as it is called in Portuguese). It was only opened after the country carefully laid the foundations of its educational system, then continued building from the ground up, strengthening it every step of the way.
In 2006 the country’s second university was formed, the University of Cape Verde
, from the merger of two colleges in different locations. The Institute for Superior Education is located in Cape Verde’s capital, Praia, and the Sea Sciences and Engineering Institute is in the town of Mindelo.
A year after the new school was formed, a third school was added, the National Institute for Agrarian Development and Research. With the school’s three campuses, it’s a natural to encourage students to take advantage of modern technology to broaden their educational experiences.
“Our bet is on distance learning,” explained Dr. Paulino Monteiro, CV-Uni’s Administrator. “We have a center of distance learning campus that is in Palmarejo, we already have three centers and video conferencing. Using those facilities, distance learning is used to reach the more remote islands and enable young people in these islands to have their own local chances of education.”