Mauritania Children and School

By | June 8, 2021

Do the children go to school?

Children in Mauritania start school at the age of six. School attendance is compulsory up to the age of 14. In the first grade, classes are in Arabic. From the second school year onwards, French is added.

Only 75 out of 100 children in Mauritania go to school. Even only 60 children of these children actually finish primary school. Why don’t the other children go to school? School fees do not have to be paid, but some poor families still cannot pay for their children to attend school because they have no money for books or notebooks. Other children have to help their parents or work. Sometimes the next school is so far away from the village where a child lives that they cannot even go to school.

How are the children in Mauritania?

Many children in Mauritania are not doing so well. They don’t have enough to eat or they get sick, for example from unclean drinking water. Their families cannot afford drugs. There are also children who have to work.


Six percent of the population in Mauritania live below the poverty line and have less than $ 1.90 a day to live on. It affects even more people in the countryside. They often don’t have enough to eat.

The situation is particularly bad when there is also a drought. You never know how much rain will fall in a year and how the harvest will turn out accordingly. There have been times when there was no rain for several years. Then the country is hit by famine, from which the children suffer particularly.


In Mauritania, 3.3 out of 100 newborns die, 5.2 out of 100 year olds and 7.6 out of 100 five year olds! There are many reasons for this: not all of them have clean drinking water and then get sick. Many die from diarrhea. There are also diseases like malaria that kill children. There are few doctors in the country. They are often still far away, as are the hospitals. And there are no drugs either.

Child labor

17 percent of the children in Mauritania work. They sell cigarettes or phone cards on the street, help out in the fields or in the household, work in fishing or in mines. Slavery is still widespread in Mauritania, although it is prohibited. This is how children are born into slavery.

There are also children who are abducted to work as camel jockeys in Arab countries, for example in the United Arab Emirates. Because children are small and light, they are particularly suitable as camel riders from the point of view of camel race operators.

Marry young

Another problem is that girls in particular get married before they are 15 years old. In Mauritania, this affects 18 out of 100 children. For those who are married at the age of 18, the proportion is even 37 percent.


Unfortunately, many girls are still circumcised in Mauritania, even though it is forbidden by law. Most girls are circumcised between the ages of 0 and 5. This is very painful and causes lifelong problems. Some of the little girls don’t survive the procedure either.

What are the names of the people in Mauritania?

What are the names of the children in Mauritania? Boys are often called Mamoudou, Amadou, Mohamed, Yacoub, Samba, Saidou, Papis or Cheikh. Girls are called, for example, Maria, Mamy, Hawa Sall, Cheikha, Coumba, Mariam or Zeina.

The name Ould comes up again and again in Mauritania. It is part of the surname and must be seen in connection with the following word. Namely, he means “son of”. So if someone is called Ould Daddah it means “son of Daddah”. Women, on the other hand, have the part of their name “Mint”, because it means “daughter of”.

Mauritania Schools

Everyday Life

Everyday life in Mauritania

As a country located in Africa according to, Mauritania is a desert country. Sand is ubiquitous almost everywhere. Incidentally, a lot of donkey carts are part of everyday life. Often the donkeys do not fare very well, they have to pull far too heavy loads and are not treated very well. 80,000 donkeys are said to live in the capital Nouakchott alone.

Houses in Mauritania

The houses are built from hollow blocks of cement. They are flat. Even in the capital Nouakchott there are hardly any higher houses. There are also slums where the little huts were made from wooden slats. Tarpaulins serve as a roof or wall. You can see it in the photo from Nouadhibou. Nomads still live in Mauritania. They live in tents. While in the south of the country there are often 50 or even 100 tents, in the north of the country that is only about ten to twelve.

Clean water – often nil

Only 71 out of 100 Mauritanians have access to safe water sources – only 50 out of 100 in the countryside. Only the richer Mauritanians have running water in their homes – and there are few of them. Most people have to get all their water, whether for drinking, cooking or washing, from a well or from another watering place. Open fireplaces are used for cooking in the villages, and gas bottles are mostly used in the city.