AFRICA/SIERRA LEONE - Fines for parents who stop children from going to school

Saturday, 30 April 2005

Rome (Fides Service) - In a Sierra Leone where more than half the population lives on less than a dollar a day the government has said that parents who refuse to let their children attend school may be fined 80 dollars.
Sierra Leone is bottom of the United Nations Programme for Development list of developed countries. Life expectancy is 34.3 years, the literacy rate is 36% and the annual Gross Domestic Product is 520 dollars per head.
To boost education on the basis of these facts the government of Freetown has announced a series of measures including a 200,000 Leone fine (about 80 dollars) for parents who deny their children access to school.
Official estimates say that in a population of 6 million, about 400,000 children do not go to school, most of them live far away from any type of school.
With international support the government intends to build 1,300 new schools in remote areas. Most of the country’s scholastic infrastructures were destroyed in the civil war 1991 to 2002. (AP) (30/4/2005 Agenzia Fides; Righe:19; Parole:229)