Nigeria received the bad news that it would be excluded from the highly-touted Education for All Fast Track Initiative of the World Bank and other donorsa program granting $400 million to struggling schools in the developing world.
Countries that will immediately receive Fast Track aid are Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mauritania and Niger, the World Bank reported. The other countries are Guyana, Honduras and Nicaragua.
This agreement under the Education for All Fast Track Initiative will begin the process of ensuring that developing countries reach the UN millennium development goal to provide every girl and boy with a complete primary school education by 2015, the bank added.
The program is expected to educate 4 million children who are currently out of primary school, support those who could otherwise drop-out, finance teacher training, pay teachers salaries, build new schools, help education systems respond to HIV/AIDS and ensure quality primary education for all children.
The bank declined to include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, DR Congo, and Nigeria because of their large numbers of out-of-school children, especially girls. These five countries account for 50 million of the estimated worldwide total of 113 million children out of school.
Fast Track aid is available to countries willing to prioritize primary education for all children and embrace policies that improve the quality and efficiency of their primary education systems.
Still, the initiative has drawn fire from some local activist groups who say that the educational plans were devised without a genuine participatory process.
The criteria and the conditionalities inherent in the fast track documents remain merely a new face of the Structural Adjustment Policies, which as we all know, had negative consequences on education, health and other social services in the program countries, noted the Global Campaign for Education on its website.
Fine words and fancy rhetoric calling for fairer South-North trade terms are all well and good but until they are backed up with action to tackle trade distorting subsidies they ring hollow.
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