Sao Tome and Principe:
An LWR School Kit for Every Child
Sao Tome and Principe is a small island-nation off the west coast of Africa. It is one of Africa’s poorest countries but, because of its small size (estimated population is 160,000), it is often overlooked by relief and development agencies.
The education system in Sao Tome has been declining since 1996. The drop-out rate is high — more than 25% of students drop out before reaching the 4th grade. For the well-being of the country, the education of its future leaders is imperative.
A shipment of 22,000 Lutheran World Relief school kits was sent to Sao Tome and Principe in late 2003 as part of a national initiative to improve conditions in elementary schools and revitalize the country’s education system.
ForCHILDREN, the international children’s rights organization that requested the school kits, coordinated with local NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in distributing the LWR school kits—one to every child enrolled in the 80 elementary schools throughout the country. This distribution was the first step in a long-term program to strengthen these local organizations in their work to protect the rights of children in the country, and to offer them a better education which will result in stronger leadership for the future.
The distribution of the school kits also brought high visibility to the project, and sparked the local population’s interest.
“This is only one part of a long-term involvement to improve primary education,” said Paul McCleary, president of ForCHILDREN. “[The LWR school kits] will have a long-term effect.”
ForCHILDREN uses a similar approach in its work as Lutheran World Relief—working with locally established NGOs and strengthening existing systems to keep the ownership and involvement of the projects local.
Every child in the country's 80 elementary schools received a school kit.
Elementary students excitedly inspect the contents of their new LWR school kits