Norwegian government launches post-primary education fund for Africa
The Norwegian Post-Primary Education Trust Fund was officially launched last week to focus on secondary education in Sub-Saharan African countries.
For 2006, the fund amounts to about US $2.7 million and, according to Norwegian officials, it is expected to grow to about $7 million. The fund will be managed by the World Bank.
This latest initiative will complement the already-existing Norwegian Education Trust Fund, which focuses on Education for All, especially at the primary level.
EI welcomed the new fund and congratulated the Norwegian government for establishing a good model for other governments and donors to emulate.
"We believe this fund is a solid step in the right direction towards improving secondary education in Sub-Saharan African countries," said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. "All over the region there are students eager to learn, but who cannot get access to secondary school. Now more doors will be opened and learning resources made available for these youth. It’s very good news indeed."
The launch seminar was attended by high-ranking Norwegian officials including His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon, and the Ministers of Education, Foreign Affairs and State. Representatives of the World Bank, several African countries, Oslo University, NGOs, and civil society organisations also attended.
The seminar aimed to identify current challenges affecting secondary education in Africa and then craft strategies for addressing them through the new fund. Some areas identified were: vocational education, teacher training and capacity building, research, and improvement of access, quality and equity in African secondary education.
EI and its Norwegian affiliate, Utdannings Forbundet, spoke strongly against the World Bank’s position that too much money is being spent on teachers’ salaries in Africa. The teacher trade unionists pointed out that most African teachers receive salaries far below the poverty line. They also opposed the hiring of untrained contract teachers, insisting that quality secondary education in Africa and elsewhere depends, to a very large extent, on qualified teachers.