Education in Algeria largely continues to follow the pattern laid down during the French administration, but its scope has been greatly extended. Public primary and secondary schools were unified in 1976 and private schools were abolished. Expenditure on education was estimated at 6% of GDP in 1999. The government has given priority to teacher training, technical and scientific programs, as well as adult literary classes.
Education is officially compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. The public schools are regulated jointly by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the study of Islam is a required part of the curriculum. Arabic is the official language although French and Berber are also in widespread usage. The adult illiteracy rate for the year 2000 stood at 34% (males, 24% and females, 43%). In 1997 there were a total of 170,956 teachers and 4,674,947 students in primary schools. Secondary schools employed 151,948 teachers and enrolled 2,618,242 students in the same year. In 1998, the primary pupil-teacher ratio was 28 to 1.
In 1999 there were 10 universities along with five centers, seven colleges, and five institutes for higher learning. The University of Algiers (founded in 1909), its affiliated institutes, and other regional universities enrolled 267,142 students in 1996. The universities provide a varied program of instruction that stresses development-related subjects. Many technical colleges also are in operation.