“Sub-Saharan Africa Far from Achieving Education for All”

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A report released by a Paris-based education organization has provided a gloomy picture of the sector, which does not in any way exempt Liberia from the awful education system.

According to the report, globally, just one third of countries have achieved all of the measurable Education for All (EFA) goals set in 2000. None, including Liberia, achieved them in sub-Saharan Africa; only seven countries in the region attained even the most watched goal of universal primary enrolment. Sixteen of the 20 lowest ranked countries in progress towards ‘Education for All’ are in sub-Saharan Africa.

The 2015 EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR) observed that achievements and challenges found that the number of children enrolled in primary school in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 75 percent to 144 million in 2012. However, 30 million children remain out of school in the region.  Corruption, conflict, climate change and poverty are factors that hampered progress in many countries.

Nigeria, for example, now has more children out of school than when the global goals were set. Inefficient public spending saw the loss of US$21 million of education funding leaving a shortfall of 220,000 primary school teachers.

Niger not only failed to reach any of the goals, but also has growing inequality, leaving the poorest far less likely to get free education than they were in 2000. 

South Africa and Cape Verde had both achieved Universal Primary Education in 1999, but have since moved away from the goal.  Chad ranks at the bottom of the Education Development Index with less than 70 percent of children enrolled in primary school.

However, some countries have made remarkable progress since 2000. Progress is especially notable among those who focused on helping the poorest with initiatives, including abolishing school fees, providing school uniforms, meals and books.

Burundi, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Tanzania more than halved the percentage of children who had never been to school. South Africa reduced its adult illiteracy rates by two-thirds. Equatorial Guinea had fewer than four girls to boys in primary school in 2000, but has now achieved gender parity.

Ghana, for example, had pre-primary enrolment rates of only 47 percent in 1999, but now provides universal access at that level.

“Sub-Saharan Africa has faced many challenges in achieving the EFA. These include the effects of climate change, a fast growing population and protracted armed conflict. Economic growth in the region has not yet led to a significant reduction in poverty, which remains a major barrier to education.” said GMR Director, Aaron Benavot. “Nevertheless countries in the region have made serious commitments—financial and otherwise-to expand education opportunity and improve its quality. Governments must find ways, together with international partners, to mobilize new resources to quicken the pace of change in the years to come,” Benavot suggested.

Recommendations

Complete the EFA agenda: All governments should make at least one year pre-primary education compulsory. Education must be free: fees for tuition should be abolished; costs for textbooks, school uniforms and transport should be covered. Policy makers should prioritize skills to be acquired by the end of each stage of schooling. All countries should ratify and implement international conventions on the minimum age for employment. Literacy policies should link up with community needs. Gender disparities at all levels must be reduced.

Equity: Programs and funding should be targeted to meet the needs of the most disadvantaged. There should be more emphasis on gender equality, including through teacher education and safe school environments. Governments should close critical data gaps in order to be able to direct resources to those marginalized groups most in need.

Post-2015: Countries should ensure that all children and adolescents complete pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education by 2030.  Governments should significantly expand adult learning and education opportunities. The education sector should collaborate closely with other sectors at the national and global levels to improve sustainable development prospects.

Close the finance gap: The international community, in partnership with countries, must find the means to bridge the US$22 billion annual finance gap for quality pre-primary and basic education for all by 2030.

Notes: Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report is an authoritative reference that aims to inform, influence and sustain genuine commitment towards Education for All.

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