Since 1980, public education has been free and compulsory for the ten-year period of primary schooling for children between the ages of 6 and 16. Six years of primary education are followed by five years of secondary education. In 1996, there were 26 primary schools with 577 teachers and 9,886 students. In secondary schools, there were 689 teachers and 9,099 students in the same year. Of these secondary students, 237 were in teacher training programs, and 711 were in vocational courses. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 15 to 1 in 1999. Seychelles does not provide education at university level, but there is a teachertraining college and a polytechnic institute. Only members of the National Youth Service can apply to the teacher-training college. Adult literacy was estimated at 85% in 1990. In the absence of higher education facilities, many students study abroad, mainly in the United Kingdom. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 6% of GDP.