Niger

Niger: UN says education sector ready for more donor attention

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NIAMEY, 12 June 2007 (IRIN) - Niger's government along with two United Nations agencies have called on donors and NGOs to restart assistance for education in Niger following a corruption scandal last year which led to the freezing of most funds.

"[We] call on all development partners to pool their resources to improve access to quality education in Niger," Niger's ministry of education said in a joint statement which was released on Monday with the World Food Programme and the UN Children's Agency (UNICEF):

With just 54 percent of the 2.1 million children between six and 12 in Niger currently going to school, the country ranks last in the world for access to education, according to the UN Human Development Report.

Only three girls out of every ten go to school.

Last year donor funds for education were frozen after it emerged that some 1.1 billion CFA francs (US $2.2 million) had been embezzled by two government ministers.

The scandal culminated last month with the resignation of the prime minister and a change of government.

"We must now keep striving to support education," said Sarah Gordon-Gibson, deputy director of WFP in Niger. "The impact will be much bigger if all the partners in the education sector unite their efforts and their resources," she said.

Maiguizo Rakiatou Zada, secretary general of the ministry of education said: "We must establish partnerships and mobilise resources to create quality education for all children."

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