Antananarivo, Madagascar, 15 April 2005 - At a signing ceremony yesterday in the presence of the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, the Government of Norway donated US$ 6 million to UNICEF to improve the quality of primary schooling in this country.
These funds, which will be provided over the course of three years (US$ 2 million a year from 2005-2007) will ensure that the 3.3 million children who are currently enrolled in primary school (as well as those who start school in the years to come), will have an improved education.
“This grant by the Norwegian government is one of three generous donations to Madagascar this year,” said UNICEF’s Representative to Madagascar, Barbara Bentein. “UNICEF is extremely grateful for the commitment of donors like Norway to education for all and the Millennium Development Goals,” she added.
UNICEF will use the Norwegian funds this year to train 25,000 teachers in improved teaching methods, to provide 1.5 million first and second graders with school textbooks and to ensure that all the country’s 111 school districts are able to monitor and evaluate the education situation in their areas to create an environment for competency based learning.
Education is a key priority for both UNICEF and the Government of Madagascar. While net primary enrollment rates have increased to 82% in recent years, only 39 out of 100 students complete the primary cycle. In addition, the country has one of the highest repetition rates in the world, with close to 30% of all children repeating a class.
UNICEF has been working with the Ministry of Education and its partners since 2002 to put in place a system that will improve the quality of primary education. This system, which stresses competency based learning, emphasizes the acquisition of key skills, rather than the route memorization of facts. Textbooks and pedagogical material are being accordingly revised to ensure that children master basic numeric, literacy and life skills. Much more work needs to be done, however, and the Norwegian grant will go to ensure that this reform process continues.
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