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Mauritius, officially known as the Republic of Mauritius, is an island country in the southwestern portion of the Indian Ocean, located just off the southeastern coast of the African continent and approximately 540 miles east of Madagascar. In addition to the larger and main island of Mauritius, the Republic of Mauritius also includes the islands of Cargados Carojos, Rodrigues, Tromelin and the Agalega Islands. Mauritius Island is a component of the Mascarene Islands, with Reunion, a French island, located just 110 miles to the southwest, and Rodrigues situated 350 miles to the east. The total geographic land area of the Republic of Mauritius is a mere 787 square miles, and the country’s capital and largest city is Port Louis.
As of the last census taken in July of 2011, the estimated population of Mauritius was just a shade under 1.3 million, most of whom (98 percent) live on the main island. Rodrigues is the second most populated island, inhabited by approximately 38,000 people. Mauritius’ population is very ethnically diverse and includes residents who are descendants of India (Indo- Mauritian), continental Africa (Mauritian Creole people), France (Franco- Mauritian) and China, (known as the Sino- Mauritians).
Although the Mauritian Constitution does not specifically name an official or national language for the country, most of the population, at least commonly and in informal situations, speaks a type of French Creole called Mauritian Creole. French and English are also spoken, and of the three, English is the nearest thing to an official language, as it is the language used in Parliament (although the body can address the chair in French as well), government administration, courts and business. Both French and English are used in the education sector. Mauritius is also very religiously diverse, made of those that practice Hinduism (52%), Roman Catholicism (28%), Islam (17%) and other Christian and non-Christian religions, which together account for 11 percent.
Education in Mauritius
Education in Mauritius is overseen by the national government, and as the country was a former colony of the British, its education system is based largely on the British model. Education is free beginning in pre-primary school up to the tertiary level, and since 2005, transportation to and from public schools has also been free of cost.
The education system is divided between five levels: pre-primary education, a combination of preschool and kindergarten that is offered for three years beginning at age three; primary education, the only compulsory level under the Mauritian system, spanning six years and culminating with the Certificate of Primary Education; secondary education, a five-year program of either academic or vocational education, ultimately leading to the Secondary School Certificate; higher secondary education, a two year program leading to the Higher School Certificate; and post-secondary and tertiary education, which can include vocational/technical training or university education, where students can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in a limited number of academic fields.
Following higher secondary school, students who intend to pursue higher education opportunities must sit for the O-Level and A-Level examinations—proficiency tests which are carried out by the University of Cambridge through their International Examinations Program.