Higher education in Burkina: a path towards unemployment?

Achille Sawadogo
2 min readJun 17, 2019
Auditorium in a public university (approx. 2000 students attending a lecture)

“The candidates whose names follow are successful …”. This is the magic sentence made by the president of the jury before returning the verdict of admission to the baccalaureate, recognizing nine long months of intense classes and exercises. We then attend scenes of jubilation, often crazy.” It’s worth it! It is not given to all to have the baccalaureate … “, some say.

But the euphoria of the first days after admission will gradually fade and leave room for questioning: “Now that I have the baccalaureate, what will I do? In which high school/university will I enroll? What will I study? Which profession will I practice”?

For the last year session (2018), 38178 candidates were successful at the baccalaureate level. To continue their studies, they had to choose between public and private education. A dilemma.

Pursuing higher education in a public school requires a great sacrifice. Above all, we must accept the delay. Numerous attempts to alleviate the problem, notably through the system of “technical invalidation” due to great late to accomplish coursework, which norms are still not established. Studying in the public also means accepting draconian working conditions: lack of classrooms, overcrowding, etc. But one thing is certain: you will not have to worry about the recognition of your degrees. You will be able to showcase them in public service competitions and for job offers; your sacrifice will not have been in vain.

Candidates taking the baccalaureate exam, 2018

If this option does not suit you, you can still enroll in the private sector, which offers a range of vocational training streams. The working conditions cannot be easier: reduced staff, air-conditioned rooms, etc. But the quality of the services often leaves something to be desired: unqualified teachers, teaching programs that are not adapted to the training program, etc. The icing on the cake: in many cases, diplomas are not recognized by the CAMES (African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education), or even by the government of Burkina Faso.

However, whatever the training option, you are not immune to unemployment. According to the continuous multi-sector survey conducted in 2014, the overall unemployment rate in Burkina Faso is 6.6%. This scourge mainly affects the age group of 15–34 years, which represent about 35% of the population and 63.76% of the unemployed.



Achille Sawadogo

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner