République de Maurice (The Republic of Mauritius) is an island in the Indian Ocean about 900 miles east of the coast of Madagascar. It includes the islands of Mauritius, St. Brandon, Rodrigues, and Agalega. The population is 1,274,189 and the literacy rate is 84.4%. Although English is the official language, it is spoken by less than 1% of the population. The majority speak a local Creole dialect. English and French are the languages of instruction. Residents of Mauritius have one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa. Mauritius was the only known home of the now extinct dodo bird.
Arab and Malay sailors explored the islands of Mauritius in the 10th century. Portuguese were the first European explorers and arrived in 1507. The Dutch were the first settlers and named the country after Prince Maurits van Nassau. They established the first permanent settlement in 1638, although they abandoned the islands several years later due to poor weather conditions and frequent cyclones. In 1715, the French gained control, renamed it Île de France, and established sugar cane plantations. During the Napoleonic Wars, the British gained control in 1810 and established a naval base on the island. Mauritius was granted independence from the United Kingdom on March 12, 1968 and became a Republic in the British Commonwealth on March 12, 1992.
Education on Mauritius from the ages of 5 to 12 is free and compulsory. The Ministry oF Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology oversees the country's education system.
Primary school is 6 years beginning at age 6. Upon completion, students are awarded a Certificate of Primary Education.
Secondary school is 5 years. At the end of the 5th year, students sit for external examinations leading to the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level (GCE O-Levels). Following the 5th year of secondary school, students have the option of pursuing a 2-year program. At the end of the 2nd year, students sit for external examinations leading to the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE A-Levels).
Post-secondary programs are offered at the University of Mauritius, the University of Technology, Mauritius, and several other institutions. Admission to the University of Mauritius requires at least 3 passes on the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level examination. All other post-secondary programs require at least 5 passes, including English, on the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level examination.
The University of Mauritius offers 3-year undergraduate programs leading to the Bachelor's (Honours). Graduate programs are 2 years of part-time study require a Bachelor's degree for admission. Upon successful defense of a thesis, students are awarded a Master of Arts, Master of Science, or a Master of Business Administration. No doctoral programs are offered at the University of Mauritius.
Polytechnics offer 2- and 3-year programs leading to the Polytechnic Diploma and a 3-year program leading to the Diplôme Universitaire Supérieur de Technologie (DUST).
Teacher training is offered at the Mauritius Institute of Education. Admission requires 5 passes, including English and French, on the General Certificate of Education Ordinary Level examination or 2 passes on the General Certificate of Education Advanced Level examination. Training programs for primary school teachers leading to the Teacher's Diploma Primary are 2 years and 3 months, and programs for secondary school teachers leading to the Teacher's Diploma Secondary are 2 years of full-time study or 3 years of part-time study. A program for students who hold a bachelor's degree is 2 years of part-time study and leads to the Post Graduate Certificate in Education. Students who hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Education can teach at the secondary school level.