According to andyeducation, the educational system in the Republic of the Congo is divided into three main levels: primary, secondary and higher education. Primary education is compulsory and free for all children between the ages of 6 and 12. It consists of six grades of instruction, culminating in a final exam which determines the student’s eligibility to pursue further studies at the secondary level. Secondary education is available to students who have completed primary school. It consists of three years of general studies and two years of specialized studies, leading to a National Diploma or a Technical Diploma. At the end of this stage, students are awarded a certificate or diploma which allows them to pursue further studies or enter the labour market. Higher education in the Republic of Congo is offered by both public and private universities, as well as other institutions such as polytechnics, academies and colleges. Public universities are funded by the state while private universities are funded by tuition fees paid by the students. Higher education consists of Bachelor’s (3-4 years), Master’s (1-2 years) and Doctoral (3-5 years) degrees. The curriculum at all levels is regulated by the Ministry of Higher Education (MES). In addition to traditional academic studies, The Republic of Congo also offers non-formal educational opportunities such as apprenticeships, distance learning courses and vocational training programmes. These non-formal programmes provide individuals with additional skills which can be useful in their professional career or everyday life. See educationvv for Republic of the Congo educational systems.