Archive for February, 2012


A Portrait of Education in Equatorial Guinea

by anekdotales

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A Portrait of Education in Equatorial Guinea

William Sands for the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting

Far too few resources have been invested in Equatorial Guinea’s national education system.  For a country with a per capita GDP of $30,000, conditions in Equato-Guinean schools should be significantly better than they are. Of the regime’s national budget in 2009 only 1.97% was spent on education.  As a result many of the country’s schools are overpopulated and understaffed, there are few education materials and many teachers complain of not being paid and the lack of any institutional support.  It is estimated that less than 65% of enrolled primary school students 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% of the student population is overage for their given grade.


Killing Me Softly- Portrait of the Opposition in Equatorial Guinea (slideshow I did for the Pulitzer Center)

by anekdotales

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Published February 15, 2012


Marcial Abaga Barril is one of the few opposition activists in Equatorial Guinea. As member of CPDS (Convergencia Para la Democracia Social), the only legitimate national opposition party, Barril has been arbitrarily detained and tortured on several occasions. He joined the opposition after the regime murdered his father, and says that at first he was consumed by a desire for revenge. That desire guided his struggle for many years, but today he says he believes in justice and looks toward building a new democratic Equatorial Guinea. He hopes that maybe his grandchildren can live better lives than his.

Even after having been tortured Barril shows little fear of the regime. He speaks loudly and seems at a total disregard for his surroundings whether he’s in a taxi, on his porch, or walking home.

“What can they do to me now? They’ve tortured me, they’ve broken into my home. Now the only thing left is to kill me, because they know I won’t be quiet. I won’t stop,” he says.

Barril says he’s been given a slow death sentence. Blacklisted by the regime, he lives in a state of constant instability. He is forced to feed his family with the pay from one odd job to the next, and its obvious he fears for the future of his children. With no real work, Barril spends the majority of his time with friends and family, on the phone organizing, or moving from one CPDS gathering to the next.

Instability and unemployment are the regime’s best weapons against the opposition and, as Barril laments, leave no opportunity for the creation of a real democratic process in Equatorial Guinea. But, he quickly laughs off the enormous challenge of his mission and smiles at the hand he’s been dealt. For Barril and other members of the opposition, their best weapons against the regime are their sincerity and conviction.

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