Before Guinea became independent, its educational system was patterned on that of France. All schools were nationalized in 1961. French remains the language of instruction, ostensibly as an interim measure. In 1968, a "cultural revolution," aimed at de-Westernizing Guinean life, was inaugurated; since then, eight vernaculars have been added to the school curriculum, and village-level programs have been set up to assist in the implementation of the plan. Although the French educational structure and its traditional degrees have been retained, African history and geography are now stressed. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.8% of GDP.
Education is free and compulsory between the ages of 7 and 13. Children go through six years of primary and seven years of secondary school. In practice, however, few children complete their schooling. As of 1999, 49% 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 58.9% (males 44.9%; females, 73.0%).
In 1998 there were 674,732 primary-level pupils and 13,883 teachers in 3,723 primary schools, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 49 to 1. In 1997 there were 143,243 students enrolled at the secondary level, with 4,958 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 46 to 1 in 1999. The Gamal Abdel Nasser Polytechnic Institute was established at Conakry in 1963. The Valéry Giscard d'Estaing Institute of Agro-Zootechnical Sciences was founded in 1978 at Faranah. The University of Conakry was founded in 1984. In 1997, 8,151 students and 947 teachers were engaged in post-secondary education.