In the Djibouti educational system there are two key problems that this reform programme addresses.
The first is the poor quality and coverage of the primary and secondary educational system. A purportedly central system provides neither the staff nor facilities to educate Djibouti’s children. Too many children do not go to school at all – some due to poor circumstances at the schools and others because of their location or circumstances (eg living in informal dwellings). Resources are spread too thinly.
The second is that Djibouti does not have the range of technical vocational skills to take advantage of the economic opportunities afforded by the maritime sector. Whilst illiteracy is not particularly high by African standards, the low level of skills is.
The result of these two problems is that 70% of the population do not have formal income, whilst companies in Djibouti have to recruit outside the country to obtain construction or engineering skills. This is a dangerous problem to leave without remedy.
Three sets of reforms are proposed. First, a framework for the development of private schools will be developed, so that state resources can be better focused, and so that the better off can ensure a strong education for their children. Second, district-based schools will be funded, and nominal fees formalised.
Third, new vocational colleges and training centres will be established. In cooperation with the Chambers of Commerce, joint funding of sector-specific courses will be pursued, in order to get the fastest response possible to the skills shortage within Djibouti.
Donor aid funding will be sought to help with initiation costs. It is envisaged that students at state-funded vocational colleges would pay a nominal fee, in order to allocate state resources effectively.
Getting things done
The advantage of district based primary and secondary schools development is that better provision is made for ‘capital and capital maintenance’ and appropriate levels of operational funding.