The educational system is patterned on that of France, but changes designed by the government are being introduced gradually to adapt the curriculum to local needs. Education is provided free in government-financed schools. There are a few mission schools operated by religious groups; they receive little government aid but must comply with government guidelines. Education is compulsory between ages 6 and 14. Primary education lasts for six years; secondary lasts for seven years (four years of lower secondary followed by three years of upper secondary). Adult illiteracy rates for the year 2000 are projected at 53.5% (males, 40.4%; females, 65.5%). As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 1.9% of GDP.
In the mid-1990s, there were nearly 230,000 primary-school pupils and more than 50,000 secondary-school pupils. As of 1999, 53% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 77 to 1 in 1999.
Specialized institutions include two agricultural colleges, a national college of the performing and plastic arts, and the University of Bangui, founded in 1969.