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European Union grant supports textbooks for every child in Zimbabwe

© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2010/Ufumeli
From right to left: UNICEF Representative Dr. Peter Salama with European Union Head of Delegation Xavier Marchal and Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Richard Tsvangirai at a signing ceremony where the European Union announced a $10.6 million grant for schools in Zimbabwe.

HARARE, Zimbabwe, 24 March 2010 – The European Commission has given $10.6 million to help ensure that every schoolchild in Zimbabwe has textbooks. The commission is the executive body of the European Union.

“I am heartened by the fact that Zimbabwe remains the recipient of so much good will from the international community towards our most valuable natural asset – our children,” said Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, at a an official signing ceremony that was also attended by the Deputy Prime Minister, other government ministers and donors.

The funds will help support the Educational Transition Fund (ETF) which was launched in September 2009, in a bold initiative to improve the country’s schools. ETF has already surpassed its initial fundraising target, with donations and firm pledges totalling more than $52 million.

Support for basic education

© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2010/Ufumeli
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, thanks the European Union for its support for his country’s struggling schools.

“I am proud that the European Commission is part of a multi-donor, massive effort to support basic education in Zimbabwe,” said the European Union’s Head of Delegation in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Xavier Marchal. “All donor support comes together for the benefit of Zimbabwean children,” he added.

This historic support comes at a critical moment for an education system hit hard by the country’s recent political and economic crises. Grade-seven pass rates, for example, declined from 53 per cent in 1999 to 33 per cent in 2007. And almost 50 per cent of primary school students do not go on to secondary school.

In some areas, more than 10 pupils share each textbook. In remote areas the situation can be even worse, with one textbook for 20 pupils or more.

Textbooks for every child

Because of ETF, however, every Zimbabwean child should have a complete set of textbooks by the end of this year.

“We are grateful to the European Commission for their unfailing support to Zimbabwe’s women and children,” said UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Peter Salama. “These funds, and the ETF more broadly, present a significant opportunity to build back better the education sector, which is critical now more than ever.”

The EU contribution will add to funds from other donors, such as the Governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.



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