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Debt distorts state priorities

JAMES Wolfensohn, the president of the World Bank, is correct in stating that the bank and the International Monetary Fund have homework to do with respect to developing countries and the debt crisis (TES, September 22).

Wolfensohn correctly draws attention to the need for governments to prioritise education, be efficient, introduce safety nets, ensure high quality, and have proper, transparent politics. He also wisely points out that the vast majority of finance for education comes from inside a country.

However the real problem is debt-slavery.

It is difficult for countries to prioritise education when they are victims of natural disaster; to be efficient when they lack the expertise and human resources; to have safety nets and quality when constanty struggling to get anything off the ground.

And they have to deal with outmoded cabalistic practices and racist attitudes of western governments and unaccountable bodies such as the bank and the IMF (whose policies are seen by many economists as out of date). Indeed, Uganda was recently refused debt-relief by Austria, France, Germany and Japan.

Your reports "Children bear the burden of debt" and "Uganda's dash for expansion" understandably focus on education and Oxfam's campaign. Perhaps wider questions need to be pondered and a good place to start is

Stephen Pennells

Support teacher and co-ordinator

Ethnic Minority Achievement Service

Ducie high school

Lloyd Street North

Moss Side, Manchester

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