Formal schooling in Madagascar began with medieval Arab travelers who established Islamic primary schools, also called kuttabs, and developed a transcription of the Malagasy language, using Arabic script (sorabe).
Nowadays, the Malagasy education system provides primary schooling for five years, from ages six to eleven; secondary school lasts for seven years and it is divided in junior secondary (4 years) and senior secondary
level (three years). At the end of the senior secondary level, graduates receive the baccalauréat (this is equivalent to a high school diploma).
Historically, the system has been characterized by an unequal distribution of education resources among the regions of the country: there is a continued lack of education opportunities for the poorest sectors of
society. Additionally to this, the education system rewards those who are the most proficient in the French language, despite the fact that the country is officially bilingual. If one considers that around 9 million
Malagasy speak only Malagasy, one can easily infer that this fact frustrates the future educational attainment of lots of children.
Finally, another challenge of the Malagasy education system is that education is inaccessible for a great part of the population. This is mainly so because the Malagasy government has decreasingly supported the
public school system, while the private school system grows and offers a better educational quality.