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Second year of ‘One Schoolbag For Every Primary School Student’ in Djibouti sees dramatic increase in school enrollment figures

Djibouti, 25 October 2005 - For the second consecutive year, 49,000 school children in Djibouti received school kits aimed at ensuring every child has the quality school materials they need.

Nearly 47,000 school kits and 95,000 textbooks were handed over to His Excellency Mr. Abdi Ibrahim Absieh, Minister of National and Higher Education by the United States Ambassador in Djibouti, Ms. Marguerita Ragsdale, USAID Country Representative, Ms. Janet Schulman and UNICEF Djibouti Program Coordinator Thomas Davin. 

These materials are part of the American contribution to help the Djiboutian Government to improve the quality of the education and are an add-on to 46,775 kits distributed last year.  UNICEF is the implementing partner in the project.

Since 2004, enrollment in primary school spiked by almost by 12 per cent for public schools. This dramatic progress is due to improved access to schools structures and access to better quality school material for both student and teachers.  This is the sharpest increase of children in the first school year ever witnessed in Djibouti.

In 2004, a two-year project was signed by USAID, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF. The project sought to a) Increase gross primary school enrolment by 20 per cent from 43,000 (2003/4) to 52,000 (2005/6); b) Promote equity between boys and girls in the number of children in primary school and c) reduce drop-out rates from an estimated 30 per cent to 20 per cent in the final years of primary schooling.

Based on the lessons learned from the 2004 experience, the three partners adjusted the program. Pedagogical material significantly has increased in terms of number of pencils and notebooks, to respond to the issue of satisfying pedagogical needs.  Classroom kits were also provided with notebooks and pencils/pens for teachers.

With the efforts of USAID, the World Bank, other donors and UNICEF, the goal of 1 child = 1 textbook is within sight. This would mean that soon, if the initiative of “One schoolbag for every primary school student in Djibouti” is being sustained, all Djiboutian children will have their own textbooks.

The Ministry of Education, Mr. Abdi Ibrahim Absieh, said ”pedagogical material support to children must continue and be sustained”. He called on all parents to send their children to school, espcially the girl children.

Djibouti is one of the countries working to achieve gender equality in primary and secondary education under UNICEF’s 25 by 2005 acceleration strategy. Ongoing efforts carried out with UNESCO, USAID and the World Bank will be complemented and strengthened.

Ambassador Ragsdale highlighted the fact that the initiative of one school bag for every primary student expresses the good will of United States in assisting the Djibouti Government’s educational reforms.

UNICEF Djibouti Programme Coordinator, Thomas Davin stressed the importance of sustaining the project to contribute to promote the Millennium Development Goals in Education and called upon all concerned partners to work towards giving all Djiboutian children sustained access to school.

For further information, contact:

Omar Habib, UNICEF, Djibouti: +253-31-41-21

Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, New York: +212-326-7452

Anis Salem, UNICEF  Amman: +962-6-553-9977,

Damien Personnaz, UNICEF Geneva: +41-79-216-94-01,




Related links

The site of the United Nations Girls' Education Initiative  

See also: 25 by 2005: accelerating progress in girls' education

Learn more about advancing Girls' education.

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