Situated in West Africa and sharing borders with two other African countries, Guinea-Bissau was once administered as part of the Cape Verde Islands and known as the Slave Coast under the dominion of the Portuguese in the mid-15th Century. In 1879, Guinea-Bissau became a distinct colony within the Portuguese Empire. The country obtained independence in 1974 after a brutal guerrilla war with Portugal. Since independence Guinea-Bissau’s development has been impeded by political instability, conflict and insecurity, and corruption. Today, the country is one of the poorest in the world with an overhanging foreign debt obligation. Furthermore, Guinea-Bissau has become a transhipment point for Latin American drugs destined for Europe.

source(s): UNESCO EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/14

Main Barriers to Education

  • Poverty
  • Lack of Schools & Sanitation Facilities
  • Lack of Inclusive Educational  Settings
  • Discrimination

Interventions to barriers

  • Teacher Training
  • MOE Capacity Building
  • Policy Advocacy
  • Community Engagement

In light of the challenges facing primary education in Guinea-Bissau, the Ministry of National Education, Culture, Science, Youth and Sports elaborated the Three-Year Plan for the Development of Education: 2011 – 2013, an interim plan that supported universal six-year primary education cycle for all the country’s children by 2020. Specifically, the education sector plan prioritised increasing access to primary education, utilising life-skills curriculum, promoting equality across gender, socio-economic status, and improving the sector’s management capacity.

In addition, the Government of Guinea-Bissau has also signalled its support for universal primary education through budgetary allocations. Between 2011 and 2013 public expenditure on primary education and education overall markedly increased by 13 and 5.6 per cent respectively. However, progress in Guinea-Bissau’s education sector is not unfettered and without its share of challenges. For example, in 2010 it was estimated that at the primary level the teacher/student ratio was 1:52 and just 39 per cent of teachers is trained. Furthermore, in the same year, the primary-completion rate was only 62 per cent, with girls lagging behind boys by 14 percentage points. To date, there is scant evidence that this dynamic has altered dramatically.

In support of some of the country’s most marginalised OOSC, EAC has partnered with Handicap International (HI) to increase access to quality primary education. This partner project seeks to cultivate inclusive education settings that respond to the needs of all children, particularly those with disabilities, by establishing multi-sector care and bridge mechanisms within mainstream schools. In addition, HI will train relevant MOE staff on the design/implementation of inclusive education for systemic impact.

Geographic Location: West Africa

Languages: Portuguese (official), Crioulo, English, French

Year added: 


Towards a Universal Access for Vulnerable Girls and Boys to a Quality Primary Education

Towards a Universal Access for Vulnerable Girls and Boys to a Quality Primary Education

Successfully Completed Project

In developing countries, disability tends to be linked with poverty and hinders access to education. It is estimated that 90 per cent of children with disabilities (CwDs) are not schooled. According to UNICEF reporting being identified as disabled has a significant influence on the likelihood of education exclusion in West and Central Africa.


Humanity & Inclusion

In partnership with EAC, Humanity & Inclusion, formerly known as Handicap International, aims to reach more than 28,000 out of school children (OOSC) of primary age with disabilities across ten sub-Saharan African countries.