IMF Refuses To Allow Zambia to Hire School Teachers
|October 3, 2004||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
175 Students Per Teacher?
IMF Refuses To Allow Zambia to Hire School Teachers
Would you accept a public education system for your children if it had only one teacher per 175 students? Of course not. The people of Zambia also reject such a system — but it is being forced upon them by an outside agency, the IMF.
Here are some excerpts from a new report by the Global Campaign for Education, along with some comments from Oxfam International.
Zambia is a country on the brink. One in 5 people are infected with HIV, life expectancy has dropped to 33 years and young people aged 20-25 actually have less education than their parents’ generation. Therefore, the achievement of Zambia’s new government in getting more children into school holds out a critical glimmer of hope. Yet in order to obey IMF (International Monetary Fund) orders, Zambia is not allowed to hire the teachers and health workers it desperately needs placing its education success story in jeopardy, and threatening to plunge the country into political crisis. At their meetings in Washington this week, the governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank can end this crisis if they wish. But they won’t. Zambias schools have been left short of some 9000 teachers. The vacancies have not been filled because the IMF has decreed that the government must not hire the teachers it has already trained. Ludicrously, between 8000 and 9000 newly qualified teachers are now sitting unemployed. Far from increasing to keep pace with the growing demand for free primary education, employed teacher numbers actually fell between 2002 and 2003. Even the IMFs sister institution, the World Bank, acknowledges that teachers are underpaid and too few in number.
Zambias predicament, unfortunately, is not unique. Honduras and Malawi face similar crises thanks to the IMF.
This year, Zambia will hand over a whopping 7.3% of its GDP — in debt repayments; most of it will go straight back to the IMF.
The impact on poor people is immediate and severe.
During their meeting in Washington this week, the IMFC and Development Committee should:
1. Announce that 100% of the multilateral debt of the poorest countries will be cancelled, to be funded through contributions by rich countries and a revaluation of IMF gold stocks.
2. Request a fully independent review of the impact of economic policy conditionality, including inflation targets and payroll ceilings, as countries move into the second round of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Demand due diligence of the IMF in ensuring all macroeconomic frameworks are the product of national discussion of different scenarios based on independent Poverty and Social Impact Analysis (PSIA) linked to MDG needs. Request a review of progress on PSIA and macroeconomic scenarios at the Spring Meetings 2005.
3. Urge developed countries immediately to guarantee the US $50bn increase in development financing per year needed to meet the MDGs, including the additional US$5.6bn needed to achieve universal basic education. Reiterate the need for developed countries that have not yet done so to provide a time-bound framework for reaching the target of 0.7% of GNP as ODA by 2010 at the latest, in order to meet the MDGs.
4. Be explicit in their communiqués that adequate numbers of trained teachers and health workers are vital to achieving the MDGs and resources must be found to pay them a living wage.
5. Delink funding for basic education and other poverty eradication priorities from the IMFs lending programme, and request a paper for the 2005 Spring Meetings on options for moving away from the stop/start effects of current IMF signaling to a more gradual process based on progress in implementing poverty reduction strategies.
6. Welcome the report on financing modalities and encourage rich countries to expand their commitment to direct budget support, pooled sector funding and predictable long-term financing through mechanisms such as the EFA Fast Track Initiative and the proposed International Financing Facility (IFF).
Oxfam’s Max Lawson said, “The IMF’s priority is to be repaid at all costs, even at the expense of educating Zambian children. Meanwhile the IMF is sitting on billions of dollars worth of gold they neither need nor use.”
Zambian children are paying the price for IMF policies. Ludicrously, while schools are in desperate need of another 9000 teachers, 8-9,000 qualified teachers sit unemployed. Why? A budget ceiling on government spending imposed by the IMF means that the government is not able to employ the teachers and health workers it desperately needs.
Education should be the golden path to ending poverty and helping stop the spread of HIV
Silas Silewu, Head Master at Maano Basic School in Lusaka says: “We have only 3 teachers, including me, to teach 526 pupils.”
Back in the early days of The Progress Report we were already calling for the IMF’s closure. See:
Those recommendations may be sound or unsound, but we still favor the simplest way to end the IMF’s destructive policies, secrecy and corruption — close the IMF. If U.S. taxpayers realized what a monster they are paying for, they would stop it right away. What’s your opinion? Tell your views to The Progress Report!