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Primary education is compulsory for children aged between 6 and 14, in accordance with the Compulsory Education Act. The education sector is to a very large extent publicly funded.
The budget for education is divided between: the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development; the Ministry of National Education; the Ministry of Employment, Vocational Training and New Technologies; the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research; the Ministry of Social Affairs, Childhood and the Family; and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs and Traditional Education.
The action plan to implement the package of measures set out in the most recent Three-Year Action Plan for 2016–2018 had a total cost of MRU 95 billion (USD 2.6 billion) for the period, which amendments reduced by 20 per cent, to MRU 76.4 billion (USD 2 billion).
In 2018, the State invested 1.04 per cent of its education budget, or MRU 4,000 (USD 109), in reducing disparities in enrolment rates and funding the purchase of school supplies for 10 per cent of the country's most vulnerable students.
In 2018, the State allocated 7.41 per cent of its education budget to school feeding in primary schools. On average, 150,000 meals were served per year per school.
Households pay school fees, parent contributions, book and school supply costs, and other miscellaneous school costs.
Article 4 of Act No. 75-023 of 20 January 1975 provides that "school supplies and textbooks are to be paid for by the State and the parents of pupils, subject to conditions to be laid down by decree", both for primary and secondary education. For general secondary education, article 3 of Act No. 69-269 of 1 August 1969 provides that individual textbooks and school supplies are to be provided free of charge to scholarship students. The Second National Education Sector Development Programme (PNDSE II in French) for 2011–2020 provides that contributions (fees, meal tickets and subsidized rent) will be maintained at their current level.
Between 2016 and 2018, technical and financial partners contributed 38 per cent of the total cost of the action plan. They provided 57 per cent of higher education funding, 42 per cent of technical and vocational training funding, 36 per cent of secondary education funding, 34 per cent of basic education funding, 4 per cent of preschool funding and 1 per cent of funding for literacy programmes.
The State budgeted a total of MRU 123 million (USD 3.37 million) in 2018 for the enrolment of special needs students, including MRU 100 million (USD 2.74 million) to adapt schools to accommodate children with special needs.
The PNDSE II 2011–2020 sets out plans to implement the following measures for schools:
- support for setting up community centres to tackle illiteracy (MRU 32 million, or USD 875,512)
- setting up a fund to support the promotion of basic education in Mahadras (MRU 75 million, or USD 2 million).
With regard to special education, in the Three-Year Action Plan for 2016–2018, the State budgeted:
- MRU 5.2 million (USD 142,270) to extend the training centre for children with disabilities in 2018
- MRU 12 million (USD 328,317) to establish a specialist educational centre for autistic children in 2018
- MRU 40.5 million (USD 1.11 million) to train teachers on specific aspects of priority education areas in 2018
MRU 8.7 million (USD 238,030) to train teachers, inspectors and principals from rural secondary schools on gender issues in 2016–2018.
The National Multisectoral Council for the Advancement of People with Disabilities recommends that cash transfers be extended to all children with multiple disabilities. The PNDSE II 2011–2020 sets out plans to provide school supply kits to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, aiming to reach 25 per cent of students by 2012–2013. The PNDSE II 2011–2020 also budgeted MRU 1,473 million (USD 40.3 million) in 2014 for school canteens.
The National Strategy for Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity (SCAPP in French) 2016–2030 affirms that the State will aim to ensure that all Mauritanians – especially those affected by the legacy of slavery, returnees and the most disadvantaged people – have access to better-tailored education and functional literacy programmes. This strategy also aims to introduce measures to promote the enrolment of girls, particularly in rural areas, with a view to reducing gender disparities. To this end, three studies will be undertaken (in three areas) to analyse the causes of these disparities and identify the corrective measures to be taken. A further MRU 3 million (USD 82,079) was earmarked at the outset of the plan to carry out three awareness campaigns in this respect.