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The People’s Republic of Algeria, usually referred to as simply “Algeria,” is a sovereign country located in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa. Bordered by countries such as Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, Algeria is the largest country in Africa by land area and the tenth largest country in the world, with nearly 1 million square miles of land. The country boasts a population of 37.1 million, many of whom live in its capital and largest city, Algiers. Algeria is a founding member of the Arab Maghreb Union, with full membership in the African Union, OPEC, the Arab League and United Nations.
For nearly two centuries, the country of Algeria was under French Rule, but in 1954, the National Liberation Front launched a guerilla campaign that is now known as the Algerian War of Independence. This was a grueling fight, one in which French President de Gaulle was no longer willing to fight, finally offering the Algerian people the chance to vote on the matter of French control of their land. This was in 1958, and the results of that poll demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of Algerian citizens wanted to become completely independent of France, which would ultimately come to fruition in July of 1962.
Almost immediately following Algerian independence, the majority of French citizens who had immigrated to that country, along with pro-French soldiers, migrated back to France due to safety concerns. This radically changed the ethnic makeup of once French Algiers, which today is very homogenous, with close to 99 percent of the population made up of Arabs and Berbers—indigenous people of northwest Africa, west of the Nile. Nearly 90 percent of the population of Algeria lives in the northern coastal region of the country, with smaller percentages living in the Sahara Desert in oases. The official language of Algeria is Arabic—Algerian Arabic that is spoken by nearly 75 percent of the population—and the remainder speaks one of the Berber languages. Islam is the predominant religion representing 99 percent of the population, with very small minorities of Christian Protestants and Catholics.
Education in Algeria
Under the Algerian education system, children are required to attend school from age 6-15, and the country has a literacy rate of 95 percent, one of the highest in Africa. This system is overseen by the Ministry of Education, a government agency that sets educational policy and curriculum, and is coordinated by the 46 individual provinces.
The whole of a child’s compulsory education (nine years beginning at age six) is conducted at one of the country’s Ecoles Fondamentale, or Fundamental Schools. During this 9-year period children receive instruction in a wide range of subjects, ranging from mathematics, science and technology to history, art and foreign languages. Those who successfully complete their studies are awarded a Brevet d'Enseignement Moyen—equivalent to a certificate or diploma.
While a secondary education is not yet mandatory in Algeria, a large majority of students do elect to further their education at one of the two types of secondary schools in the country: the Lycée d'Enseignement Général (School of General Teaching) or the Lycées d'Enseignement Technique (Technical School). General education programs span three years and involve broad studies in a wide array of academic fields, typically preparing students to enter the university upon graduation. The technical education track, which is also 3 years in length, is much more career-oriented, and while basic general education is a component of this program, the majority of instruction is aimed at introducing students to how technology works and preparing them to use it the workplace.
Students who graduate from technical school with their Baccalauréat Technique, the secondary-level Bachelor’s Degree of Technology, can use their new credentials to pursue immediate employment in one of the thousands of occupations in which technology is integral.
Those who graduate with their Baccalauréat de l'Enseignement Secondaire are eligible to apply for admission into one of the country’s 46 universities and/or 10 colleges. There they will study and receive instruction in a specific academic field, usually in pursuit of a three-year Bachelor Degree, and if they wish, they can continue their studies for an additional 2 years on their way to a Master’s Degree of Science or Arts. PhD-level degrees are also offered at most Algerian universities, although admissions policies governing these hyper-advanced programs are much more rigid and the acceptance process very selective.