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Gabon Sharply Increases Education Funds

Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo (left) with President Obama at White House (file photo)
Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo (left) with President Obama at White House (file photo)
This is Part Four of a six-part series on Gabon Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Gabon’s President Ali Ben Bongo Ondimba says his country is proud to have co-hosted the recently concluded African Nations cup with neighboring Equatorial Guinea.

The Central African country invested about half a billion dollars in pre-tournament preparations that included massive improvements in electricity, roads, running water and other infrastructure.

The president is also working to improve human capital -- by emphasizing quality education.

The presidential adviser on education, Gabriel Ntougou said since his election, President Bongo Ondimba has increased the annual education budget from $300 million to $1.26 billion, which he said, is an additional $880 million for the next five years.

The president’s aim of increasing education funds, Ntougou said, is to raise the standard of living of the Gabonese.

“The objective is to improve the quality of human capital, and the strategic plan is to put Gabon as a hub of education in Central Africa,” said Ntougou.

He adds that the extra education funds will among others be used to upgrade old structures and construct new ones.

“The president has developed a huge program of investment in education, which focuses on infrastructure by building facilities for universities and the 12 post-graduate schools which includes conference rooms, teachers’ offices, laboratories, students housing and sports facilities,” said Ntougou. The president has also built nine special high schools across the country to focus on science, math and physics.”

Ntougou said Mr. Bongo Ondimba has instituted a new agency charged with administering scholarships and practical training.

“The main objective is to improve the management of public funds in the scholarship programs and the allocation of public funds in education,” said Ntougou.

The government has also allocated $3.1 million annually to the Ministry of Education to purchase 10,000 computers for students. The increase, analysts say, will enable students to keep up with new technologies and to enhance their employment opportunities.