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US Launches African Textbook Initiative


The Bush administration has joined six American universities with six African nations to develop new primary school curricula. U.S. first lady Laura Bush announced the plan during a visit to Ghana.

The partnership matches American universities in the states of Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Alabama with educators in Ghana, Senegal, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia.

They will develop individual curricula for children between kindergarten and eighth grade, ultimately producing 15 million primary schoolbooks.

"These textbooks will be created in Africa, so they will represent the unique experiences of African students," the first lady explained. "The text will be written with African cultures at the center, and the illustrations will depict African scenes."

Mrs. Bush says the subjects will include reading, mathematics, science, and language arts, with additional funding to produce flash cards, charts, and teaching guides to give instructors more options for individual students.

Its part of the Bush administration's Africa Education Initiative, a $600 million plan to provide books, scholarships, school uniforms, and teacher training.

Speaking at the Accra Teacher Training College, Mrs. Bush said the initiative includes funds to train 920,000 teachers in 20 Sub-Saharan countries.

It is also focused on getting more African girls in school with 550,000 primary and secondary school scholarships for tuition, fees, books, and uniforms.

"The American people support these scholarships because we believe that investing in a child's education will produce benefits many times over in the future," she said. "An educated woman is better able to provide for her family economically, and to be an advocate for her own children's education. She has the knowledge and the skills to find new ways to improve life in her community. She is prepared to be an active participant in society, and perhaps even a national leader."

Laura Bush attended Monday's inauguration of Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state. The first lady said the new Liberian president is an example for young women around the world as she rose to the top of her government through hard work, faith in democracy and belief in the power of education.