Saturday, October 23, 2004

Free Education in Africa

This story, from tomorrow's New York Times, provides some very encouraging news from Africa. Across the continent, millions of children are enrolling in schools for the first time as country after country makes primary education free. The change in policy is a product of democratization (office-seekers have found that free education is popular with voters) and a change in policy by the World Bank, which had formerly encouraged governments to charge school fees.

There are, of course, many problems with the massive influx of new students, including over-crowded classes and severe shortages of supplies. Some elementary schools in Kenya have a student-teacher ratio of over 100:1. Nonetheless, many families in Africa perceive education as the way out of crushing poverty and are taking advantage of this opportunity their governments are struggling to provide.

Read the story and consider whether or not some organization you belong to--your church, your service club, your sorority or fraternity, or whatever--could help to support a school (or at least a student) in Africa. Leave a comment if you want help figuring out how to do it.