This is the 1st blog post in 2020 as part of the collaborative effort between the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
Education is a key driver to transform lives, build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. The adoption on December 3, 2018 of resolution 73/25 proclaiming January 24 “International Day of Education” - co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other Member States - demonstrated the unwavering political will to support transformative actions for inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.
Today sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion. Indeed 97.5 million children and adolescents are out of school in sub-Saharan Africa. Without urgent will and combined resources and efforts, the situation will likely get worse as the region faces a rising demand for education due to a still-growing school-age population.
Education is a human right and the key to sustainable development
Education is an inalienable right of every human being. It promises to free all citizens from the shackles of ignorance, poverty and disempowerment, and endow them with the capacity to be architects of their own destiny, and catalysts of entrepreneurship, innovation and global citizenship. Africa’s huge youth population can be a “demographic dividend” only if it is provided with quality education and appropriate skills.
The Agenda 2063, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025 (CESA 16-25), the Technical and Vocational Education Training Strategy (TVET Strategy) and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) aim to significantly raise educational achievement in terms of access, quality, efficiency and relevance.
To achieve the global and continental education goals, African countries must provide a level of predictable and sustainable investment in education that exceeds that of other developing regions. If we really want to end this learning crisis and build a better future for the peoples of Africa, African leaders have to act now by investing financial and technical resources not only in educational scholarships, teacher training workshops, school building and improvement of water and electricity access to schools, but also by supporting leadership capacity development and bridging the gap between planning and execution.
However, time is against us because even if the enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91%, unfortunately 59 million primary age children remain out of school. More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa while an estimated 50% of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.
Urgent action is also needed to close the gender gap, with girls increasingly the hardest hit from the growing learning crisis on the continent. Across Africa, 9 million girls between the ages of 6 and 11 will never go to school at all, compared to 6 million boys, according to UIS data. Their disadvantage starts early and gets worse by the time they become adolescents. The continent also exhibits pockets of boys’ disadvantage.
To support African policymakers to bridge this gender gap, it is key to produce gender data and develop a wider set of indicators to measure gender equality that go beyond gender parity, utilize data and analysis from within and outside the education sector so as to embed gender more comprehensively into education sector analyses and plans.
Indicators related to access are good - separate toilets for girls and boys and the presence of female teachers, who can serve as role models and encourage girls to continue their education. However the continent needs to shift from access to equality for transformational change.