JOHANNESBURG, February 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The former President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, today highlighted the precarious state of the country's education system, following swinging budget cuts by the current unelected government led by Andry Rajaoelina, who overthrew the former President in an army-backed coup last year.
International sanctions have placed great pressure on the Government's fiscal programme leading to major cuts in spending across all areas of government following the suspension of foreign aid to the country.
Bruno Maes, Madagascar representative for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said: The crisis, at both a political and economic level, is accelerating the erosion of essential services in the whole social sector, and the impact on children is severe. We are seeing a minimum 20-30% decrease in the education budget; as a result, funds and materials are not reaching schools. The second impact of the crisis is an increased vulnerability of already poor families, which means that more children are having to work.
World Bank figures released on 1 February 2010 showed economic growth in the country collapsed last year to just 0.6% in 2009, (2008: 7%) driven largely by domestic political instability. The US government suspended Madagascar from the African Growth and Opportunities Act that allows African states to export some goods to the US duty free and the EU has this week met to consider further measures against the country, including suspending it from the Cotonou agreement.
Mr.Ravalomanana, who is now in exile in South Africa, criticised the interim administration's targeting of fiscal cuts to the national education budget: To cut the education budget by up to 30pc is tantamount to national suicide. By robbing our children of a decent education they are being condemned to a life of poverty and destitution. The interim administration of Andry Rajoelina lacks vision, fiscal competence and a proper sense of our nation's needs.
President Ravalomanana called for free and fair elections to be held as a matter of urgency. Ordinary Malagasy people face many hardships after a year of economic stagnation and international sanctions. We must reinstate a progressive and democratically elected government in Madagascar. If the country's education system cannot function we risk losing a generation of Malagasy youth, which could set back economic recovery in Madagascar by many years.
SOURCE: Marc Ravalomanana
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