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Recession Threatens Education in Fragile States


With a global recession squeezing donors, government budgets and family pocketbooks, funding for education is becoming increasingly difficult.

A new report from Save the Children said aid flows for education in conflict countries must increase if these countries are to reach the United Nations Millennium Development goals.

The financial crisis, it said, will hit African economies hard with an estimated loss of $49 billion by the end of this year. The recession will affect fragile states the most and result in less investment in basic services like education.

If trends continue, fragile and conflict states will achieve universal primary education 30 years after the 2015 deadline.

Desire is there, but no resources


In the West African nation of Ivory Coast, there are currently more than a million children of primary school age out of school. Since an armed rebellion triggered civil war in the country in 2002, the government has struggled to provide education.

Birgitta Ling is Country Director for Save the Children Sweden in Ivory Coast. She said during the conflict many schools were destroyed and a lot of teachers fled.

"So one main issue is the lack of schools for children who want to go to school, for parents who want to send their children to school,” she said. “And the second big problem is that many parents can't afford to send their children to school because of the poverty in the country - the average poverty rate is 49 percent," she added.

Ling said Ivoireans value education highly and children want to go to school, but the problem is a lack of resources.

"We are worried about this global crisis because already before education was not a prioritized issue among donors,” Ling explained. “So today we are struggling all the time to get enough funds for our education programs and we fear for the future because we think it might become worse," she said.

Investment in education essential

Ling said investment in education in fragile states like Cote d'Ivoire is essential to stabilizing countries, reducing their dependence on foreign aid and avoiding a return to conflict.

Without this investment, more parents will face the choice between putting food on the table and paying school fees.

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