Secondary crisis looms;International news;News amp; Opinion

19th November 1999 at 00:00
At the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Durban, Karen MacGregor hears educationists call for earlier teaching about Aids and more secondary places

GROWING numbers of pupils coming out of expanded primary systems will create huge pressure for more secondary places, Commonwealth leaders were told last week.

But secondary school systems in developing nations could start looking very different as well as bigger, with teenagers becoming distance learners with computers in community settings. One such British-funded project will soon begin in Mozambique.

The Commonwealth Secretariat will take to next year's education ministers' meeting in Canada a new three-year programme that reflects these trends.

The global "Education for All" conference, held in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990, stressed access to primary education as a goal of the decade.

The secretariat's director of human resource development, Professor Stephen Matlin, said that it was very important. "But one unfortunate consequence was that many donors and agencies focused their efforts on primary education and, as a corollary, largely withdrew from secondary and higher education," he said.

There is mushrooming demand for secondary schooling, and growing interest in tertiary education but not enough school places.

The Commonwealth of Learning (COL), a Canadian-based commonwealth agency, is developing new ways of supporting out-of-school education for disadvantaged children.

It will soon begin an pound;800,000 pilot project in Mozambique, funded by the Department of International Development, making use of technology and existing resources such as community halls and locally-trained tutors.

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