One of the biggest challenges for Africa, the poorest continent in the world, is to reform all of its education system and change educational incentives. It is estimated that one third of African children are still out of school, and 61 million of them will reach adolescence without the most basic knowledge as reading and writing, undermining the development potential of the whole continent.
Countries like South Korea, Singapore based they economic successful path on their learning achievement. Quite often African classrooms are crowded of students, have no textbooks, and teachers are not committed, being absent the major part of the days in some countries, which means that even if children are in school probably they are not learning anything.
One survey made by the center for universal education at brookings/This is Africa estimates that 61 million children of primary school age in Africa, near 50%, will reach adolescence years without being able to read, write, or perform basic numeracy tasks. Though, the most puzzling fact is that half of these children have spent four years in school.
A countless number of resources is being lost in Africa, policy are unable to perform two essential things, first get children to go to school, and second, provide right conditions for them to learn effectively inside their schools. As some scholars use to say, the fundamental problem of Africans education is its incapacity to fill the gap built by the twin deficit in access and learning.
Anyhow, there is some good news. Something was done in the last years, particularly in what concerns primary school enrollment rates and in the percentage of income disposable to investments in schools infrastructures. Nevertheless, there are still about 30 million primary school-age children out of school. The Millennium Development Goals, a series of development targets settle in 2000 to be achieved by 2015, are more than threatened.
Furthermore, the inequality in the access to education constitutes a considerable challenge for the continent. Children from the richest 20 percent of households in Ghana remain on average six more years in school than those from the poorest households. Data tell us that being poor, rural and female is a triangle that hinders even more the already difficult education path in Africa. Beyond that, permanent conflict between ethnicities and regional forces obviously halt in some way every economy activity including educational services.
It seems quite evident that the potential of Africa, and is economic performance, is highly dependent on its labor force, and as consequence on its educational system. African nations and International authorities have to change their worries from school enrollments to learning. African children deserve it. And so does Africa.
Rui Rodrigues 556
Too Little Access, Not Enough Learning: Africa’s Twin Deficit in Education; Center for Universal Education, January 2013