Story

Equatorial Guinea: Rich Country, Poor Schools

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Primary school students pose for the camera in their two-room school, located in the village of Cupapa, just off the road from Malabo, the capital. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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Pre-school, primary and secondary school students share two rooms in the Cupapa school. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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Conditions in the school in Cupapa are good in comparison to most rural Equato-Guinean schools. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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The Cupapa school has benefited from a grant from the Exxon Mobil corporation, a major exporter of Equato-Guinean petroleum. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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Down a dirt road about 10 minutes by car from the Cupapa school is a very different reality. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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In this one-room school there are no bathrooms or basic educational materials, but there is a photo of the country's president Teodoro Obiang. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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Typically schools close to main roads are the first to receive any trickle-down funding from the central government. Foreigners passing through the area see the school in Cupapa and not this school just down the road. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

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One room, one teacher, and absolutely no support—a common reality for most Equato- Guinean schools. Image by William Sands. Equatorial Guinea, 2012.

For a country with a per capita GDP of $30,000, conditions in Equatorial Guinea's schools should be significantly better than they are. Out of the regime's national budget in 2009, only 1.97 percent was spent on education. As a result, many of the country's schools are overpopulated and understaffed; educational materials are in short supply; and many teachers complain of not being paid. It is estimated that less than 65 percent of enrolled primary school students actually attend classes, which often results in students being forced to repeat grades. This, coupled with the fact that many students enter the education system late, means that an estimated 83 percent of the students are overage for their given grade.