Eastern Orthodoxy: 65%
Roman Catholicism: 4%
The objectives o\ue003 Macedonia\u2019s government are to develop a multiethnic democracy; provide economic opportunities \ue003or its citizens; and move toward NATO and European Union (EU) integration. Despite some economic progress, the unemployment rate remains high. The Ohrid Framework Agreement, a peace agreement ending ethnic \ue003ighting in 2001, placed that con\ue002ict \ue001rmly in the past. The peace\ue003ul parliamentary elections o\ue003 2006 took Macedonia a step closer to membership in NATO and the EU, which eventually will improve regional and international trade ties and increase political cooperation.
Decentralization re\ue003orms have reduced municipalities \ue003rom 124 to 84, and moved authority to local government \ue003or education, healthcare, in\ue003rastructure, and other ser- vices. Financing these now local-level responsibilities will be critical to the success o\ue003 these re\ue003orms. Security within the country has improved since the Ohrid Agreement, and, in January 2004, the EU\u2019s military \ue003orce was replaced by a mostly unarmed EU police mission. In cooperation with the U.S. embassy and the Organization \ue003or Security and Cooperation in Europe, the EU police mission trains and advises the multiethnic Macedonian police \ue003orce.
The Peace Corps program was established in 1996. Seven Volunteers were assigned to the Ministry o\ue003 Education and Science and worked in the secondary school English educa- tion program. Subsequently, the program included business development within municipalities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and environmental education and management. Despite early successes, the program did not \ue003ully develop because o\ue003 regional political instability and the program was suspended twice between 1999 and 2001. Since the Peace Corps returned in November 2002, there has been signi\ue001cant progress in the two current program areas\u2014business development and education\u2014and youth development and in\ue003ormation technology are integrated into both program areas.
As government structures devolve \ue003rom the centralized system, local o\ue000cials must learn how to operate efectively. Most municipalities have limited budgets and little experi- ence in addressing their increased responsibilities. Peace Corps Volunteers strengthen the capacity o\ue003 local/municipal
governments and NGOs by creating training programs and establishing projects that include more responsive management styles. Local organizations have a great need \ue003or expertise in strategic planning, project management, and sustainability planning, and Volunteers provide host organizations with organizational and management assistance. They conduct computer skills training; share expertise in \ue003undraising methods, project planning, and management; conduct community outreach in human rights, health, and environmental awareness; and initiate small project assistance.
One Volunteer worked with an organization overseeing a large government land disbursement program to build agriculture industry capacity. The Volunteer planned economic education seminars \ue003ocused on selecting the best products and practices \ue003or \ue003arming in the region, business development planning, and product export \ue003or more than 500 \ue003armers.
to improve their place in the global community. The ministry is re\ue001ning its curriculum and making concerted eforts to improve teachers\u2019 skills, particularly in smaller towns and rural villages where needs are greatest. The Peace Corps\u2019 involvement in this endeavor is two\ue003old: to improve the efectiveness o\ue003 English language instruction through teacher training and resource center development; and to help students improve their skills in English lan- guage communication, critical thinking, and independent li\ue003e-long learning. Volunteers serve as English language resource teachers in primary and secondary schools. They also work on summer projects, including boys\u2019 and girls\u2019 leadership training camps, and they organize a\ue003ter-school English clubs, o\ue003ten incorporating in\ue003ormation technology skills into the clubs as well as classrooms.
One Volunteer worked with her English students to put on a nine-minute version o\ue003A Mid su m me r Night \u2019s D r e a m. The production presented an opportunity \ue003or the students to practice their English speaking more creatively and preparations \ue003or the play provided important li\ue003e lessons \ue003or the students, including goal setting, leadership, and responsibility.
\u201cThe coordination between a public school and a private-sector NGO sparked a positive response culminating recently in a \ue001ormal ministerial visit \ue001rom Kosovo to study the success o\ue001 our community in addressing cultural and educational
Health and HIV/AIDS
Indigenous belie\ue00as: 47%
An independent kingdom until 1896, Madagascar was colo- nized by France until adopting a constitution and declaring \ue003ull independence in 1960. During 1992-93, \ue003ree presidential and National Assembly elections were held, ending 17 years o\ue003 single-party rule. In 1997, Didier Ratsiraka, the leader dur- ing the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to the presidency. The 2001 presidential election was contested between the \ue003ollowers o\ue003 Didier Ratsiraka and Marc Ravalomanana, nearly caus- ing secession o\ue003 hal\ue003 o\ue003 the country. In April 2002, the High Constitutional Court announced Ravalomanana the winner.
The economy o\ue003 Madagascar is dominated by agriculture, which employs 80 percent o\ue003 the population. Agriculture, including \ue003ishing and \ue003orestry, contribute 26 percent o\ue003 GDP; industry, 16 percent; and services, 56 percent. Major exports include cofee, vanilla, cloves, shell\ue001sh and sugar. Madagascar\u2019s natural resources are severely threatened by de\ue003orestation and erosion, aggravated by the use o\ue003 \ue001rewood as the primary source o\ue003 \ue003uel. A great need continues \ue003or teachers, health specialists, and environmental counselors, particularly in rural areas.
The government o\ue003 President Marc Ravalomanana has created the Madagascar Action Plan (MAP) which serves as a roadmap \ue003or all agencies and partners to assist in eco- nomic growth and poverty reduction and is committed to \ue001ghting environmental degradation, poor health and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Numerous international development agencies and volunteer organizations have been welcomed to Madagascar, joining the growing number o\ue003 Malagasy non- governmental organizations (NGOs) working with the people o\ue003 Madagascar with their development eforts. Madagascar is ranked 143 o\ue003 177 countries on the 2006 United Nations Human Development Index.
The \ue001rst education Volunteers arrived in 1993. In subse- quent years, the Peace Corps initiated programs in ecologi- cal conservation and community health education. Today, Volunteers work in the education, environment, and health and HIV/AIDS sectors. Some Volunteers concentrate on the prevention o\ue003 HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted dis- eases; others teach English and train teachers. Volunteers also work with communities and national parks to \ue001nd ways to balance human needs with environmental conservation. Shortly, the Peace Corps/Madagascar will expand its pro- gramming into the business development sector to boost nascent entrepreneurialism. All Volunteers, regardless o\ue003 sector, are trained to promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
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