The school system before independence was basically that of Portugal. Schooling is compulsory for four years only. Primary education is for four years and secondary has two stages: the first five years are followed by two more years. In 1989 there were 19,822 pupils in 64 primary schools with 559 teachers; in general secondary schools, there were 318 teachers and 7,446 pupils. In vocational schools, 101 pupils were enrolled the same year. The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was estimated at 36 to 1 in 1999. In the same year, females accounted for 49% of primary enrollment and 27% of secondary enrollment.
The MLSTP government has declared universal primary education to be a priority. In 1990, adult literacy was estimated at 57%. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 3.6% of GDP.