With more than 800,000 habitants at the 2016 census, very unevenly spread across the three islands of the archipelago, and 40% of this population being under 14 years of age, the Union of the Comoros faces a major challenge in terms of development. The already significant flow of migration could increase over the coming years, due to economic reasons, the search for employment and training, towards Eastern Africa, the Arab countries, nearby Mayotte, Réunion, and Metropolitan France.
In the field of education, some progress has been made with the increase in rates of schooling and primary school completion. However, the education system remains largely ineffective with mostly inadequate teaching methods and equipment, and schools in poor condition with no operating budget. The secondary teachers have no training in their subjects; the management and leadership of the system are incompetent.
Since January 2009, the date of the first intervention in Comoros, the local CIEP centre in Réunion has become a preferred partner of the Comoros Ministry of Education. The centre has provided its expertise and training abilities to strengthen the skill set of those working in the education system. Three sectors were affected: teaching of and in French, education management and documentation, and governance of the institutions in charge of this sector. To do this, the centre has benefitted from funds from the French State and has also mobilised substantial funding from the European Union managed by the Région Réunion.
As part of the last regional cooperation European programme Interreg V Océan Indien, a project to revive and structure science teaching in three pilot high schools in the Comoros, paired with three high schools in Réunion, has been running since the start of the 2017 school year, with the support of the French Development Agency and the French Embassy.
This project is based on continuous training, carried out by the Réunion Academy teacher trainers in residence in the Comoros high schools, for the benefit of the subject teachers. It also provides the funds to equip the laboratories in the three pilot high schools with equipment for experiments and educational software. This equipment aims to promote the implementation of innovative science teaching, based on using the latest digital tools and favouring practical work and experiments as part of a pedagogical approach to investigation. An annual science celebration is organised to raise the students’ awareness of this subject. The programme will come to an end in May 2019 with a three-fold mission (one that is institutional, for training and for assessment). The last teacher training for the three pilot high schools will be centralised at the Mohamed Cheikh de Moroni School.
This institution, where the elite of the country were schooled (including the president, several ministers and economic players), receives specific support from the French Embassy thanks to an FSPI,1 which aims to completely renovate it in order to restore it to its former glory as a place of reference. The institution is supported by the local CIEP centre, on the one hand, in terms of the governance of the school, with the training of the management team, and on the other hand, with the school’s teacher training. An internship in Réunion for teachers of different subjects, facilitated by personnel at the Réunion Academy, should soon be organised.
Since 2000, the year the centre was set-up on the Tampon University Campus, the local centre on Réunion has taken over the operational reins of the CIEP missions in the Indian Ocean and Southern and Eastern Africa. The Comoros is a priority country in this geographical area.