The educational system is patterned on France's, and the language of instruction is French. Private schools of an exclusively religious character (such as the catechism classes of Christian missions and the Muslim schools) receive no assistance from public funds, but the schools that conform to the officially prescribed educational programs are aided by government grants. Education is theoretically compulsory between ages 6 and 12. Primary education lasts for six years followed by either general secondary education, which lasts for another seven years, or technical and vocational secondary education, which last for six. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.7% of GDP.
In 1997, there were 10,151 teachers and 680,909 pupils in primary schools, with a student to teacher ratio of 67 to 1. In secondary schools in the same year, there were 99,789 pupils and 2,792 teachers. As of 1999, 70% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 12% of those eligible attended secondary school. Projected adult illiteracy rates for the year 2000 stand at 46.4% (males, 33.1%; females, 59.2%).
In 1971, the University of Chad was officially opened in N'Djamena. The university had three faculties—sciences; law and economics; and letters and human sciences. There is a zoological and veterinary institute at Farcha, a national communications college in Sarh, and a national college of administration in N'Djamena. In 1996, all higher level institutions had 288 teaching staff and 3,274 pupils.