A report on Thursday that 9,000 children in a district of Angola's western Benguela province were not attending school due to a teacher shortage has served to highlight the urgent need to rebuild the country's education system, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said.
UN figures show that following three decades of war, about 45 percent of Angolan children do not go to school.
In response, UNICEF earlier this year embarked on a back-to-school campaign in the two central-highlands provinces of Bie and Malanje province in the north. About 250,000 children went back to school under the programme, and UNICEF and the education ministry formalised the training of 4,000 teachers.
On Thursday the official news agency Angola Press (ANGOP) reported that at least 9,000 children in the Cubal district of Benguela province were not in school because of a shortage of teachers. Education official Victorino Kamundondo was quoted as saying the district needed around 320 new teachers.
UNICEF spokesman James Elder told IRIN the state of affairs in Benguela was symptomatic of the larger problems in the education system in Angola.
"The situation in Benguela is not a surprise to UNICEF, there's a lack of schools and a terrible lack of teachers in Angola. We hope, and are confident, that government has seen the value of the back-to-school campaign that has led to the announcement that government had budgeted US $40 million for 29,000 teachers for 2004," Elder said.
This would go a long way in assisting the ministry of education and UNICEF "to put in place processes that will solve the problem".
However, there was still much to do. The teachers to be recruited out of the US $40 million funding "are going to have to be trained".
Elder said most teachers in Angola "have an education level of around grade 8 or grade 9, so you need to give these teachers some basic knowledge of teaching methodologies".
UNICEF hoped to take the back-to-school campaign nationwide, "we hope government's budgetary pledge will allow UNICEF and the ministry of education to do that".
"In a country that has had so much war, children going back to school has a critical stabilising effect [on society]," Elder added.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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