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Angola correspondent Lara Pawson
visits a school where the crumbling building is the least of its problems
 real 28k

Monday, 24 April, 2000, 09:36 GMT 10:36 UK
African children's battle for education
classroom
The Dakar summit will look at the right to education
As a major education summit starts in Senegal, Ishbel Matheson looks at the state of schooling in one African country: Zambia.

At the World Education Forum in Dakar, rich and poor nations across the world will be asked to pledge themselves to the goal of universal primary education by the year 2015.

The charity Oxfam has warned that the education system in Zambia is in a precarious state.



Last year, more teachers died of Aids than passed through teacher training

The number of children enroling in government schools at the lower primary levels has dropped over the past decade.

Classrooms are often delapidated and overcrowded, and teachers are badly paid and lacking motivation.

No books

Many of the poorest families cannot afford the fee charged by government institutions, so they have set up community schools where children are taught for free.

But the conditions in these schools are even worse. There are often no books, no pens and pencils, no desks, no blackboards, and the teachers are untrained and unpaid.

On a recent visit to the country, Glenys Kinnock, a British member of the European parliament, said she was appalled by the difficulties facing Zambia's children.

It is the young who are bearing the brunt of the country's social and economic difficulties.

Spending cut

Under the recovery programme guided by the International Monetary Fund, school fees have been increased while spending on education has been cut.

The country also pays more servicing its international debt than it does on health and education combined.

The HIV/Aids pandemic is also taking its toll. Last year, more teachers died of Aids than passed through teacher training.

Oxfam says Zambia's difficulties are shared by many developing nations. It says that if the decline is to be halted, a new pact between rich and poor nations must be devised.

Governments in the developing world must spend more money on education, and Western nations should give more aid, and speed up debt relief.

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Education for all?
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See also:

03 Apr 00 | Education
Universal primary education by 2015
20 Apr 00 | Education
Blair effigies march for education
06 Dec 99 | Africa
African education in decline
23 Nov 99 | Education
Target for primary schooling for all
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