According to andyeducation, Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa, bordered by Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali. The country has a population of over 20 million people and the official language is French. Despite its vast natural resources and potential for growth, Niger remains one of the poorest countries in the world with high illiteracy rates. The education system in Niger is divided into three main stages: primary (grades 1-6), secondary (grades 7-9) and post-secondary (grades 10-12). Primary education is free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 12. At this stage students learn basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills as well as science and social studies. Secondary education is also free but not compulsory. During this stage students can choose to specialize either in academic or technical fields such as agriculture or engineering. In addition to core subjects like math and language arts they may also take courses in history, geography, chemistry or physics depending on their chosen field of study. Post-secondary options include universities as well as technical schools offering associate degrees or certificates in various disciplines. In order to gain admission to university programs applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent plus pass an entrance exam known as the Baccalauréat de l’Enseignement Secondaire (BES). Universities offer degree programs in a wide range of disciplines including law, medicine, engineering and more. Technical schools provide practical skills such as mechanics or computing that can be put to use immediately after graduation. In addition to traditional educational institutions there are also a number of adult education centers that provide literacy classes for adults who did not finish primary school as well as vocational training courses for those wishing to gain new skills or update existing ones. These centers are often run by NGOs with support from the government or international organizations like UNESCO. Overall the educational system in Niger provides access to quality learning opportunities at all levels from primary through post-secondary education with plenty of choice available depending on individual interests and needs. However due to poverty many children are unable to attend school which contributes significantly towards illiteracy rates remaining high throughout much of the country’s rural areas. To address this the government has been working to increase access to education by building more schools and providing scholarships for those unable to afford tuition fees. See educationvv for Niger educational systems.