ISTANBUL- Finance Minister James Musoni has urged wealthy governments to continue providing financial support to education in spite of the current global economic crisis, as this will help African countries achieve economic growth and development.
Making an appeal on behalf of other African countries benefiting from the Education for All –Fast Track Initiative, Musoni said more resources are needed to complement government allocations to this sector.
“I urge our development partners to continue providing enough resources to this initiative to ensure that no country misses the achievement of Education MDGs due to lack of resources,” said Musoni who is in Turkey for the World Bank/IMF General Assembly.
“Increasing finance will help young people escape poverty,” he said, urging donors to fill the financing gap currently estimated at $ 1.2bn over the coming 18 months.
Giving Rwanda as a case study, Musoni said though the country is on track to achieve education for all Rwandans, there is still a big challenge of achieving goals of the 9-Year Basic Education Programme due to lack of infrastructure.
Government is currently on a crush programme to construct over 3,000 classrooms before the beginning of the next academic year.
The number of qualified teachers needed for these schools is also still low compared to the ratio of pupils Musoni told the donors.
“We are on track but we still have challenges related to sustaining the gains.
We also want other countries in Africa to benefit from the initiative,” said Musoni, who was flanked by his Colleague from Burkina Faso.
Overall enrolment of pupils in lower education has increased from 72 percent in 2000 to 92 per cent now under the initiative.
From the initiative Rwanda has so far received $ 70 million of $105 million allocated to the country, though it is yet to receive $35 million by the end of this year.
The high level ministerial meeting with donors follows a letter by fourteen African ministers recently appealing to donor governments to have a round table to address funding shortfalls of the Initiative during the World Bank / IMF meetings.
At the meeting, Minister Bert Koenders from the Dutch Development Fund urged fellow donor countries to scale up support for the initiative mentioning that his country is currently a leading contributor to the initiative.
“This is a programme that works and we have to share the burden!
It is not healthy for countries not to honour their commitments,” he said, making an appeal to a cross section of donor countries including Canada, France, Sweden, Spain, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, USA and Belgium present.
Donor countries generally pledged to continue supporting the initiative without announcing specific figures.
However they called for more efficiency in terms of implementation of the programme specifically the quality of education provided.
Speaking on behalf of the Initiative, Robert Prouty the acting Head of FTI Secretariat urged donors to increase funding not to stall plans to send an extra 20 million children to primary school for the first time.
“Doing it will take money but not doing it will cost us more,” he said.
15 FTI countries are on track to reach the goal of having 95 per cent of all children completing primary school by 2015.