Basic education and gender equality

New publications on tackling school fees in a time of economic crisis

© UNICEF/NYHQ2004-0357/Furrer
Schoolgirls laugh as a comedian performs a skit during morning assembly at Ruthimitu Primary School in Nairobi, Kenya. Itinerant comedians often visit schools to entertain the children. The school participated in the 'Let's Go to School' campaign.

NEW YORK, USA, 12 June 2009 – As the economic crisis continues to take a toll on the world's poorest families, UNICEF and its partners have released two books to boost the global effort to abolish school fees.

The private cost of education is one of the major barriers to school access. UNICEF believes it’s more important than ever to help poor families keep their children in school and support governments as they develop effective strategies to reduce poverty.

School fee abolition lies at the core of these efforts.

Learning from experience

Six Steps to Abolishing Primary School Fees, published by the School Fees Abolition Initiative (SFAI), represents a collaborative effort of UNICEF, the World Bank, the UNESCO Institute of Educational Planning, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa and the 'Education for All' Fast Track Initiative. It outlines concrete steps towards sound planning and implementation of school fee abolition policies and includes strategies to reach the most vulnerable.

Six Steps joins Abolishing School Fees in Africa, which was published jointly by UNICEF and the World Bank in May, and provides an analysis of the experiences of five countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique), together with lessons learned. It is the result of a broad collaboration between governments and development partners in the field and at the global level.

“The publications come at an opportune time when all our efforts must be directed at addressing the impact of the global economic crisis on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable groups, and to prevent setbacks in the progress on the Millennium Development Goals,” said UNICEF Director of Programmes Dr. Nicholas Alipui.

UNICEF and the World Bank launched SFAI in 2005 and were joined by other education partners to develop new and pragmatic strategies to reduce household cost barriers to education – and to provide support to countries and enhance the policy dialogue on school fee abolition policies.

Supporting poor households

“School fee abolition policies support poor households in coping with education costs and in keeping their children in school, and they are key in safeguarding the gains made on universal primary education. They are part of the broader social protection framework that should be placed high on the development agenda moving forward toward 2015,” said Dr. Alipui.

During the UNICEF Executive Board session this week in New York, Executive Director Ann M. Veneman underlined the need to encourage governments to maintain spending on social services and continue engaging with the World Bank and other partners on social protection issues.



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