La República de Guinea Ecuatorial is located on the west central African coast and is bordered by Cameroon, Gabon and the Gulf of Guinea. It consists of territory on the African mainland as well as 5 inhabited islands. With a population of 616,459, Equatorial Guinea has the 3rd smallest population on the African continent. The literacy rate is 87%. Spanish is an official language spoken by approximately 68% of the population, and is the language of instruction. French is also an official language and is spoken by approximately 30% of the population.
The first inhabitants of present-day Equatorial Guinea are believed to have been the Pygmies. Bantu and Fang tribes migrated to the area beginning in the 16th century. The first European to arrive in the area was Fernão do Pó, a Portuguese explorer who discovered the island of Bioko in 1472. The island was named Fernando de Po and it, along with the island of Annobón, became Portuguese colonies in 1474. In 1778, the islands and the mainland were ceded to Spain. A Treaty of Paris in 1900 declared the islands and mainland a Spanish colony known as Spanish Guinea. It was granted independence on October 12, 1968 and was renamed Equatorial Guinea.
Education is free and compulsory from the ages of 6 to 11. Escuela Primaria (Primary school) is 5 years beginning at age 6. Upon completion of primary school, students sit for an external examination leading to the Certificado de Estudios Primarios. Students who do pass this examination have the option of continuing on to Formación Profesional Ocupacional (FPO).
Lower secondary school is 4 years.
Upper secondary school is 3 years and has academic and vocational options. At the end of academic upper secondary school, students sit for an external examination leading to the Bachillerato.
Formación Profesional (Vocational upper secondary school) is divided into 2 cycles. The first cycle is one year and leads to the Grado Medio (Mid-Grade). The 2nd cycle is 2 years and leads to the Grado Superior (Higher Grade).
Post-secondary programs are offered at the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Ecuatorial which was founded in 1995. A Bachillerato is required for admission. First-level programs are 6 semesters and lead to the Licenciado. Second-level programs are 4 semesters following a Licenciado and lead to the Master. Doctoral programs are at least 3 years of coursework and research following a Master and lead to the Doctor.