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Victory for education campaigners in the Dominican Republic

December 2012

Campaigners protest at a rallyAt 4pm on 4 December the Dominican government announced that 4% of its GDP in 2013 will be spent on education.

This is a huge victory for Christian Aid partner Centro Bono, who have been campaigning for this to happen for over two years.

Back in 2010, Christian Aid gave Centro Bono a modest grant of £10,000 to help establish the campaign, simply called '4% for education'.

Its aim was to lobby the government to act on a law passed in 1997 decreeing that 4% of the country's GDP should be spent on schools.

Transforming education

Until now, the Dominican Republic has invested just 2% in education - one of the lowest levels in Latin America.

The limited funding affects large numbers of the population; 13% of people over the age of 15 are illiterate. Without enough funds, schools are overcrowded and understaffed and children do not have enough books and pens for their studies.

It's hoped these problems will become a thing of the past when, from January 2013, the government will invest 4% of its annual budget on improving primary and secondary school education.

People power

Over the last two years, 200 organisations and millions of people have got behind the campaign.

On the fourth of every month, come rain or shine, supporters and activists across the country have turned out in their signature yellow garb to demand adequate funding for the nation's schools.

From a small-scale movement, the campaign has snowballed to become one of the largest public movements the Dominican Republic has ever seen. 4% graffiti is scrawled on walls, and taxis drive around the city carrying 4% stickers on their bumpers.

Thanks to the dedication of campaigners, every one of the presidential candidates in this year's elections included a promise to enforce the law in their manifestoes. This victory shows the elected President, Danilo Medina, has honoured his promise.

A bright future

Mario Serrano, the director of Centro Bono, says: ‘We have managed to double the investment in education. This will improve and increase the numbers of schools and the availability of school materials.

'It will also mean more literacy programmes, more availability of education for people with disabilities and more pre-school facilities.’

The extra investment will also be put into teacher training and professional development.

However, although the victory should be celebrated, Mario warned: ‘The struggle hasn’t ended, the commitment continues. We now have to monitor the huge investment next year and oversee that these resources significantly improve the quality of education.’

Schoolboy Manuel Bautista from the Dominican Republic Centro Bono and other organisations will be involved in this monitoring, ensuring that the money promised goes to where it is needed.

11-year-old Manuel Bautista, a student at a Dominican state primary school, neatly sums up what the campaign victory means: 'The campaign is so that all children have what they need to learn... we are the future.' 

Find out more

Our work in the Dominican Republic

Education campaign turns Dominican Republic yellow


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