The educational system is patterned on that of France, but changes have been introduced gradually to adapt the curriculum to local needs and traditions. The language of instruction is French. All private schools were taken over by the government in 1965. Education is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 16. Primary lasts for six years and secondary for seven years. Projected adult illiteracy rates for the year 2000 stand at 19.3% (males, 12.5%; females, 25.6%).
In 1996 there were 497,305 primary school pupils in 1,612 schools and 7,060 teachers. In the same year, there were 214,650 secondary school students and 7,173 teachers. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was estimated at 61 to 1 in 1999. The National University, which opened in Brazzaville in 1971, was later renamed Marien Ngouabi University. Higher-level institutions had more than 1,300 teachers and nearly 14,000 students in the mid-1990s. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.7% of GDP.