Thursday, February 26, 2009

Free School Lunches Increase School Attendance

Yesterday,the UN's IRIN News and Analysis published another article of interest. The UN World Food Programme has been offering free lunch to students in the Republic of the Congo, and the article claims that the promise of lunch has kept more children coming back to school. In the 1980s, the Republic of the Congo had one of the highest primary school attendance records in Africa, but the civil war destroyed half of all schools in the Congo, as well as displacing students and teachers, between 1998 and 2003. The program began in 2002, when about 32 percent of Congolese did not have enough food, and today the program feeds up to 39,000 students every day. Free school lunches, something the United States offers to its low-income students already, could prove to be a step towards both increasing school attendance and alleviating hunger in developing countries around the world.

To read the full story, visit:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Increased Primary School Enrollment Leads to Secondary School Shortage

The United Nations publication IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis recently published an article describing problems Mali's education system is facing as a result of increased primary school enrollment. Mali has been working towards the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015, and their success with increasing enrollment in primary schools has led to a shortage of teachers and classroom space in secondary schools. In 2008, about 17,000 students out of 80,000 who passed the admission exams for secondary schools could not attend due to lack of space.

The government of Mali is building more vocational schools in an attempt to give these students somewhere to go. This issue raises important questions about the best way to increase access to education internationally. Primary education is an important goal, and in that Mali has been successful: between 2002 and 2007, primary school enrollment has increased from 56% to 68% for girls and 78% to 88% for boys. However, even success stories come with their own challenges, and this is no exception.

To read the full story, visit:

Monday, February 9, 2009

A government's financial role in promoting education

I found an excellent article on the active role of government in Uganda in committing itself to pay for the pupils who failed last year's Primary Leaving Examinations. The article was rather controversial, suggesting that the Government's aid may be a waste of their resources in accomodating such pupils. Although a pupil's poor performance is often due to parental neglect in their children's education, does that not mean that the government should take an active role in promoting education? I'm curious to see if other African countries with similar educational structures, like Ghana and Nigeria, would be hesitant to involve their governments financially in aiding failing students...

Source:, 8 February 2009: "Uganda: Govt to Pay for P7 Failures to Repeat"

Delta State Government Approves Teacher Pay Raise

Yesterday, the Delta State government in Nigeria approved a 27.5% pay raise for primary school teachers. This move was in line with a resolution reached last August at the Nigeria Governors' Forum and the Nigeria Union of Teachers that all states should implement a Teachers' Salary Structure program in order to improve the quality of education and recruit more teachers. Delta State is the first state to begin implementing the program.

Like Ghana, where The Building Fund works, Nigeria offers free primary education, but the schools are often under-funded and face a shortage of qualified teachers. The quality of Nigeria's educational system declined in the nineties, as the population increased dramatically and the number of schools available did not keep up. This program, if it works as intended, will help children in Nigeria gain access to high-quality education.

To read the full story visit:

Other source: