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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – May 6, 2002: International Education Plan - 2002-05-03

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

International finance ministers have approved a World Bank plan aimed at educating every child in developing countries. The plan is called “Education for All.” Its goal is to provide an education for all children between the ages of five and eleven by the year two-thousand-fifteen. The announcement came at the close of World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings last month in Washington, D.C.

The World Bank estimates that about one-hundred-twenty-five-million children between the ages of five and eleven in poor countries do not attend school. That is about one of every five children. About seventy-five percent of these uneducated children live in southern Africa and South Asia.

Finance ministers at the meeting strongly praised the education plan. However, they failed to settle a dispute about how to pay for it. The United States wants the World Bank to give money called grants to poor nations instead of loans that have to be repaid. European nations are opposed to this policy. They say the grants would use up the World Bank’s resources. So far, only a few industrialized countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, have promised to provide money for the program.

The World Bank plans to launch the new education program in the next three months. Officials will provide money to ten poor countries. They will choose countries that have developed strong education reform plans but lack the money to put them in place. Tanzania, Malawi, Senegal, Bangladesh and India are among the nations being considered for this project. It is expected to cost up to five-thousand-million dollars.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn hopes the ten countries will be chosen by late June. That is when the world’s seven leading industrial countries will gather in Canada for their yearly economic meeting. Mister Wolfensohn hopes an agreement to fully pay for the “Education for All” program can be reached during those talks.

In time, the World Bank plans to give money to eighty-eight developing countries that have a large number of uneducated children. The bank says that at least one-fourth of the countries are in southern Africa and South Asia. Latin America and the Middle East are also areas in need of assistance.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.