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04DJIBOUTI905 2004-07-01 09:34:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Djibouti
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E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) Djibouti's Minister of Education, Abdi Ibrahim Absieh,
and Minister of Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, Mahmoud Ali Youssef, recently assembled donor
country representatives in Djibouti, as well as concerned UN
offices, to outline Djibouti's education policy and steps
toward education reform. Both Ministers stated that human
resources development through education and training is the
primary strategic path towards reducing the country's

2. (U) Absieh told the donors and representatives that thanks
to his Ministry's efforts and the support of technical and
financial partners, Djibouti had managed to improve access to
primary education by increasing the number of classrooms from
570 in 2000 to 748 in 2003. In addition, the numbers of
primary school teachers increased sufficiently to meet the
demands posed by an increase in the number of students. The
average rate of primary education schooling, he said, went
from 39 percent to 52 percent during the same period. In
addition, students and teachers in basic education increased
respectively by 25 percent and 12 percent during this period.
Since the creation in Djibouti in 2000 of POLE University,
the numbers of students in higher education increased due to
an increase in the number of graduates from secondary
schools. He said POLE had made advances in improving
education quality, program review, scheduling and teaching
through a competency-based approach. On a general level,
regularization of teachers' salaries had improved the level
of motivation of teachers and contributed to a reduction in

3. (U) Absieh spoke about the institutional capacities of
his Ministry to manage education reform. He said these
capacities had been reinforced with the creation of a new
organizational chart that is much more functional and the
donation of a new building to the Ministry where all
administration and teaching services are now based. In
addition, Education's share of the nation's budget has been
in continuous growth for the past four years.

4. (U) Absieh outlined the following objectives Djibouti's
education sector hoped to achieve as a result of reform:

-- work on improving girls' education and education of
children from underprivileged backgrounds and reducing the
dropout rate;
-- set up a public pre-school which can be used as an example
for development of private pre-schools;
-- increase available classrooms to help meet universal
primary schooling of children from six to sixteen years;
--finalize reform of technical and vocational education by
establishing Learning Centers in professional fields
compatible with each region's economy;
--encourage private initiative in private education by
adopting new legislation on modalities of creating and
operating private schools;
-- provide student access to all textbooks and teachers'
guides compatible with new instructional approaches at all
levels in basic education;
--consolidate program assessment and learning capacities of
the Center for Research, Information and Production of
National Education (CRIPEN) and accelerate introduction of
radio, TV and new information and telecommunications
technologies in teaching techniques.

5. (U) Absieh added that to be able to run an education
system that has drastically changed, new and modern
management tools and training sessions are needed to improve
organizational and planning capacities at all levels of
administration. He said decentralized structures will be
created and careful study will be given to equipment and
infrastructure. Moreover, local communities and
student-parent associations will be encouraged to participate
in the management and maintenance of schools. In non-formal
education, public partners as well as NGOs will be involved
in the development of a strategy for adult literacy programs.

6. (U) The World Bank's representative, Ousmane Diagane,
commended the Minister of Education for the efforts his
department was making and encouraged similar meetings with
donor partners on a regular basis. He said such a meeting
will enable donors to exchange information and coordinate
their actions to support millennium challenge objectives,
especially to achieve gender parity in education. He also
praised the quality of education in Djibouti, especially the
availability of textbooks that is bringing the ratio from one
textbook per four students down to a ratio of one textbook
for each student. However, he underlined that the number of
school children should be increased and the recruitment of
women in the teaching profession should be encouraged in
order to further promote girls' education. He reminded the
donor community of its commitment in Dakar to provide
resources to each country at a level that will demonstrate a
political will to extend education to all. He said the World
Bank has initiated a loan program to implement rapidly the
"Education for All" program for countries with limited
financial resources.

7. (U) Based on a proposal put forward by France's
Development Director, France was unanimously chosen as
coordinator of the donor community in the field of education
in Djibouti. Its role will consist of coordinating the
intervention of financial and technical partners and
disseminating information as well as facilitating accelerated
implementation of the "Education for All" program.

8. (U) Comment: Through a grant of USD 12 million, USAID is
assisting the Ministry of Education to implement the
education reform program throughout the nation. USAID
support to Djibouti's basic education program (Grades 1-12)
has four major elements: increased access to basic education
through school construction and rehabilitation; improved
quality of teaching and learning; increased opportunities for
girls' education; and promotion of strategies and training to
provide sustainable employment to school graduates,
particularly girls. Strategies to achieve these objectives
rely on the provision of new information and communication
technology services as well as traditional means to improve
education, using both formal and non-formal education
approaches to reach out to diverse and needy groups.

9. (U) Other donors supporting education reform include
France, which provides teachers for secondary schools, Saudi
Arabia, which supports Koranic schools in an amount
approaching USD 10 million, the World Bank, which is
providing USD 10 million in soft loans for reform (new school
construction) and the African Development Fund, which is
engaged in school rehabilitation. End comment.