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The State of the World's Children 2004

Teachers spark hope

© UNICEF/HQ97-0915/LeMoyne
In camps for displaced people in Azerbaijan, war-scarred provinces of Angola and classrooms in Lao PDR, trained teachers help children and countries develop.

Dolores Jamba, an 18-year-old student, mother and now teacher, is Angola’s future. She is one of around 4,000 newly trained Angolans who will drive the country’s return to education. The prolonged civil war that battered Angola until March 2002 left the education sector in tatters, with 1 million children excluded from primary school.

In February 2003, UNICEF and local authorities launched ‘Back to School’, introducing 250,000 children to school in Bié and Malanje, provinces that had particularly suffered during the war.

Back to School is a major shift for Angola, previously assuming that universal primary education would have to wait for formal classrooms to be built and sufficient teachers to be trained. Instead, Back to School provides rapid teacher training, recognizing that quality will improve over time. UNICEF provided emergency training for 5,000 teachers. Dolores finished her first three-week training period and now receives on-going training.

Dolores’ home of Kunhinga is about 30 kilometres north of Kuito, the capital of Bié. Here school books and pens are now sold next to fruit, grain and third-hand shoes. In the past when the choice was between sustenance and scholarship, food understandably won out. During Back to School month, pupils received a UNICEF education kit, including books, pencils, bag and eraser.

Back to School has been so successful in Bié and Malanje that the government is extending it across Angola in 2004, setting aside $40 million to fund the training of 29,000 teachers and to increase the number of children in the first four grades by 90 per cent.

A different kind of emergency

In the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a different kind of educational emergency existed. A paucity of trained teachers left schools unprepared to educate children. In 1992, nearly 80 per cent of primary school teachers were untrained – over 50 per cent not having completed secondary school.

The Ministry of Education, with support from UNICEF, developed the Teacher Upgrading Project. The purpose of the project, which was expanded with help from the Japan National Committee, was twofold: to provide on-going teacher training equivalent to passing grade 8 and to improve teaching skills.

Other donors have come on board including the Asian Development Bank, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Save the Children Alliance and Catholic Relief Services, allowing the project to expand to every province. By 2002, nearly 77 per cent of primary school teachers had been trained.



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