wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI1393 2004-11-01 11:52:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

USG-DONATED SCHOOL KITS ELICIT SUPPORT AND ALSO

Tags:   PREL PGOV EAID SCUL DJ 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

011152Z Nov 04
					UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DJIBOUTI 001393 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF, AF/E AND AF/RSA
STATE ALSO PASS USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID SCUL DJ
SUBJECT: USG-DONATED SCHOOL KITS ELICIT SUPPORT AND ALSO
SOME CRITICISM




1. (U) Summary: On October 21 and October 30, Ambassador and
USAID Director joined Djiboutian officials and local UNICEF
Director Thomas Davin, in the official unveiling and
distribution of school kits provided by the Ministry of
Education to primary school children in Djibouti under a
USAID education grant of USD 1.6 million. In the October 30
event, which took place at Balbala Primary School in one of
the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Djibouti, Prime
Minister Dileita Mohamed Dileita praised the project and
thanked the people of the U.S. for their support to education
and economic development in Djibouti. In a surprising
balanced article in the government-controlled newspaper La
Nation, parents of children expressed both positive and
negative views of the U.S. contribution. End summary.



2. (U) On October 21 and October 30, Ambassador and USAID
Director joined Djiboutian officials and local UNICEF
Director Thomas Davin, in the official unveiling and
distribution of school kits provided by the Ministry of
Education to primary school children in Djibouti under a
USAID education grant of USD 1.6 million. The distribution
is part of a nationwide program in Djibouti that will see
46,500 kits, containing exercise books, pencils, slate,
eraser, pens, crayons, ruler and school bag, distributed to
primary students in Djibouti's public school system. The
distribution will also include 750 instructor and classroom
kits containing blackboard pens and other items for use by
Djibouti's primary school teachers.



--------------------------


Government Support for Project


--------------------------





3. (U) During the October 30 ceremony, both Prime Minister
Dileita and Minister of Education Absieh thanked the
Ambassador, USAID Director and the people of the U.S. for
their support to education and economic development in
Djibouti. They expressed joy and satisfaction at the kits
and extolled parents to send their children to school and
extolled children to encourage their friends to come to
school and remain in school. For her part, the Ambassador
stated that access to basic education is a right of every
child. She said she hoped the kits would help equip the
students of Djibouti for their future this year, next year
and for years to come.



--------------------------


Encouraging Education for All Youth


--------------------------





4. (U) The kits, designed to reduce the heavy burden on
parents to purchase school materials for their children, are
part of a campaign to encourage more of Djibouti's children
of school age, especially girls, to enroll in school and
remain in school. School fees have already been eliminated by
the Government of Djibouti as part of its reform program and
to encourage parents to send children to school. School
enrollment is currently at 53 percent overall in Djibouti, up
from 39 percent in 1999 when education reforms began. Still,
it is estimated that over 68,000 children of school age in
Djibouti are not enrolling in local educational institutions.




5. (U) USAID's support program for education reform also
includes improvement in access to education through
rehabilitation of city and rural school infrastructure,
provision of school equipment, improvement in learning
through training and in service training of teachers,
supervisors and school inspectors. It also includes
development of a teachers' handbook, establishment of teacher
resource centers in each of the five provincial districts,
encouragement of community support and participation in
school maintenance, increased girls' education and non-formal
education activities.



--------------------------


Not Without Detractors


--------------------------





6. (U) In a surprisingly balanced October 24 article carried
in the government newspaper La Nation, several parents were
polled about their views on the efficacy of the kits. Some
expressed concern that the kits had arrived a bit late in the
school year, and that most parents had already provided the
essentials to their children. Nevertheless, they stated,
this donation should be continued in the future. Others said
the kits would permit them to save money in order to buy
better clothes for their children or spend on other
scholastic materials. For others, the money might have been
better spent on other items. These included a first meal at
school or, simply, daily milk, especially for students
obliged to attend school on an empty stomach. Still, other
parents asked why the initiative of school kits was extended
only to public primary schools. They argued that private
schools are not uniquely attended by rich students.



7. (U) There were other parents who expressed the view in the
La Nation article that they were not convinced of the
practicality of the kit project and who said that they did
not think the kits would permit much savings. The costs,
they said, were merely a "drop in the ocean" when compared
with what was needed to educate a child. Others doubted that
the Ministry of Education could sustain such a project for
the long term and questioned whether this year's donation was
merely part of an electoral campaign. (Comment: President
Guelleh runs for re-election in May, 2005. End comment) The
article concluded by stating that it is "access to education"
which in the end will enable Djibouti's students "to fully
integrate into the world of the new millennium and become
responsible adults of tomorrow and future leaders of the
country."



--------------------------


A Plan for Distribution


--------------------------





8. (U) The Ministry of Education's distribution plan for the
school kits entails dissemination in the five provinces of
the country between October 30 and November 3. United States
Military Civilian Affairs at Camp Lemonier and the Djiboutian
National Army will jointly provide logistical support to
regional governors (Commissars), school inspectors, and the
community in this effort.
RAGSDALE