Controversial Donation Appeal Emerges in Madagascar’s Education Sector

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

In response to a shortage of furniture in Madagascar’s schools, the Minister of National Education has sparked controversy with a donation appeal. Marie Michelle Sahondrarimalala called for “patriotism” and urged citizens to directly purchase school desks. This appeal has stirred indignation on social media and among certain segments of civil society.

Freshly reappointed to her position, the Malagasy Minister of National Education launched a contentious call for donations. According to her, there is a deficit of two million school desks for public school students in Madagascar, and the state budget can only finance 45,000 of them.

To bridge this gap, the minister is asking Malagasy citizens to open their wallets. The Ministry of National Education believes that a call for donations of school supplies will reveal “the extent to which citizens are willing to contribute” to Madagascar’s development.

However, with a budget of nearly 1,800 billion ariarys, education ranks as the third-largest expenditure for the state. Many perceive this initiative as an admission of mismanagement, especially after the President expressed the desire, just a week ago, for “Malagasy children to study in modern institutions.”

“We are somewhat shocked by the statement. It’s not just about having infrastructure at exorbitant costs,” criticizes Miary Ranaivoson, a member of MoNEPT (National Movement for Education for All). He adds, “Today, students sit on the floor. Desks and chairs are the absolute minimum necessary for the proper functioning of education. This call for donations demonstrates that vital needs such as desks and chairs are not the ministry’s priority.”

“State is out of means”

In response, the Ministry of National Education, in an interview with RFI, characterizes the gesture as aimed at strengthening citizens’ patriotic spirit. These donations are also expected to support a struggling state-owned enterprise, CnapMad, where Malagasy citizens can directly order school desks before donating them to the school of their choice.

For Paul Rabary, former Minister of National Education, the government is simply trying to cope with insufficient resources. “It is not a question of priority because everything is a priority in education. I think all initiatives are worth considering. Minister’s donation appeal is not such a bad thing. It proves, to some extent, that the state is failing because the state is out of means. But we must also face the reality: Madagascar is a poor country, and the Malagasy state is poor,” he explains.

In Madagascar, a school desk costs an average of 140,000 ariary, more than half of the Malagasy minimum wage.

Soukaina Sghir

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