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11 January 2007

Press Release: United States Supports Education in Mauritania Continues Campaign to Distribute Books to Schools

December 21, 2006
Nouakchott, Mauritania

Ambassador Charles H. Twining, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States in Mauritania and Cheikh Ahmed Ould Sid’Ahmed, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, presided at a ceremony this morning to mark the donation of books to the Arafat secondary school in Nouakchott. The donation included a collection of over 300 titles in Arabic, French, and English covering subjects such as history, literature, science, economics and finance, computers, health and several others.

The contribution was part of the continuation of a vast campaign against illiteracy that the Embassy of the United States began September 8, 2006 on the occasion of International Literacy Day. The secondary schools of El Mina 2 and Sebkha also received donations at ceremonies involving other officials from both the United States Embassy and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. A planned seventy-six schools in all thirteen regions of Mauritania will receive books under the literacy campaign, which the Embassy is conducting in close collaboration with the Ministry.

This press release "looks" more official on the virtual stationery of the US Embassy, plus you have the public affairs links and access to other background info.

Maybe Sending Books to Africa is Not Just Hot Air . . .

Speaking frankly, in North America, over the next several years, we have millions MORE new and used books that are going to do nothing but sit in warehouses or even damp basements until they are no longer even worth being hauled out and pulped (though pulping could be easily arranged at a profit).

In Europe there are real distribution-to-Africa programs in place -- even tax incentives for modest numbers of titles that get sent at cost or below through several African channels. In a few cases, unfortunately, some of the textbook titles have been ordered and paid for through African ministries of education because the educational publishing infrastructure does not exist locally - - all the editorial and production jobs stay in the Western home headquarters of the Western publishers under such export incentive programs. (Something to think about when we consider 'dumping' our surplus on poor nations.

Whatever the case, 'we', including used book people, own a ton of dead pulp we refuse to release onto our own local markets YET we know this material will never see the light of day or a readers' eyes WHILE the US Embassy is making claims, at least, of supporting 'vast' English-language literacy campaigns in several African nations. Last I heard, the US owns many huge cargo planes as well (though Canada has none).

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