Wednesday, March 9

Free Basic Education: A Rock And A Hard Place?

In Zambia, an estimated 40% of rural women are illiterate. Government removed tuition fees for basic school 2 years ago; since then, the number of out-of-school children has halved, and completion rates have risen, according to Oxfam, which claims this achievement is especially important because "schools are the frontline in Zambia’s battle to slow the spread of AIDS."

But ironically -- in part, due to the success of Free Basic Education -- Zambia’s schools have been left short of some 9000 teachers. The vacancies have not been filled – because the IMF says Government can not afford to hire the teachers it has trained. According to Oxfam, "between 8000 and 9000 newly qualified teachers have been sitting unemployed."

Oxfam makes 6 key recommendations to the IMF, including cancelling "100% of the multilateral debt of the poorest countries." Oxfam's criticism of the IMF complements Action Aid's & Oxfam's recent attacks on the larger international community.