As in other parts of the Francophone world, the Malian educational system inherited most of its principles from the French colonial system. However, since independence, it has undergone a series of reforms to meet the needs of the people. The Ministry of Education is responsible for governing the whole system and implementing the policy of the government. Instruction is given in French. A normal school year runs from September to June.

Education is now compulsory for 9 years, from the ages of 7 to 16. The school year lasts from October to June. There are four types of primary schools in Mali. Some public schools offer a traditional French language curriculum while others use the pédagogie convergente described above. There are also community and international nongovernmental agency supported schools, some of which use a traditional French language curriculum while others teach in the mother tongue without using the pédagogie convergente. Finally a few private schools use the traditional French language curriculum; others provide bilingual Arab/French instruction.

In 1997-1998, only 49 percent of the children aged 7 to 12 attended school; this is among the lowest levels of school attendance in the world. In rural areas, the attendance rate was lower still: only 30 percent of the children attended (and only 25 percent of the girls).

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Mali - Educational System—overview - Schools, French, Language, School, Traditional, and Curriculum

The Fundamental Education: It comprises nine grades, divided into two cycles. Grade one through grade six: first cycle. This is also referred to as first cycle of the elementary education. In the sixth grade all the students take the C.E.P. which leads to the second cycle: grade 7 through grade 9 (Junior High school). What is important to know at this level is that English is introduced and taught as a foreign language. In the last grade of the second cycle, the students sit for a nationwide exam called the “Diplôme d’Etudes Fondamentales” (D.E.F.) which leads to high schools or vocational and technical schools.

Secondary Education (Senior High School): Grade 10 through grade 12. At this level, Arabic, German, and Russian are introduced and taught in addition to English. All 12th graders sit for the “Baccalaureat” exam (High School Diploma) in Biology, Maths/Physics, Human Sciences, or Language and literature. With the Baccalaureat the students can enter the University of Mali or apply to universities abroad. The “Baccalaureat” is a very competitive exam for the secondary school students. (See table below).

Number of successful candidates out of 18,932 students

For the 1999-2000 school year






Human Sciences





Languages and literature




















(SH: Sciences Humaines;SB: Science Biologiques; L.L.: Lettres-Langues; S.E.: Sciences Exactes)

Vocational and Technical schools: Students who do not intend to undertake long-term study programs, prefer to enter two/ four years public/private technical and vocational schools, which are all accredited by the Ministry of Education. Two-year vocational and technical schools offer the “Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle” (CAP) and the four-year schools offer the “Brevet de Technicien” (BT).

The University and Institutions of higher education: After secondary education, the students used to enter institutions of higher education, which include the Ecole Normale Superieure, The Ecole Nationale D’Administration, the Ecole Nationale d’Ingenieurs, Institut Polytechnique Rural, the Ecole Nationale des Postes et Telecommunication, l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes Pratiques,and the Ecole Nationale de Medecine et de Pharmacie. But four years ago, the university opened its doors. It lasts four years with a two-year long program, which can be considered as the undergraduate studies. First there is the first cycle. It is known as the DEUG: first year DEUG1 and second year DEUG2. Second we have the second cycle, which is divided into two levels: the “licence” and the “maitrise”. While a student can pass from DEUG1 to DEUG2 with a C, no student will be admitted to the second cycle with a grade lower than B. At the end of the four year, they receive the “Maitrise”. Students who desire to enter the grandes Ecoles must have at least two years of university education.

The University of Mali has five major schools:
The School of Sciences and Techniques (Faculte des Sciences et Technologies-FAST),
The School of Languages, Arts and of Human Sciences (Faculte des Lettres, Arts, Sciences Humaines-FLASH),
The School of Economic and Legal Sciences (Faculte des Sciences Juridiques et Economiques-FSJE), the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and of Ondotostomatology (Faculte de Medecine, de Pharmacie, et d’Odonto-stomatologie-FMPOS,

The University Institute of Management (IUG), the Polytechnical Rural Institute of Katiboubou. In addition to these schools, the “Institut de Formation Superieure et de la Recherche Appliquée” offers doctoral studies programs in various fields.

U.S. colleges and University officers, who wish to have current information on credentials may contact us (see address below) or the following offices directly:
Commission Nationale des Equivalences Rectorat
De Diplômes Université du Mali
Direction Nationale BP E 2528
Des Enseignements Superieurs Bamako, Mali
BP 71 Tel: (223) 22 19 33
Bamako, Mali FAX: (223) 22 19 32
(223) 22 87 20