| Primary education and enrolment levels in sub-Saharan Africa remain a major development issue in the 21st century. The region has seen levels of primary enrollment climb from 47% to 87% since 1950 (UN 2010). It is now evident that nearly everywhere in the world; there are currently more children in receipt of primary education than 15 years ago. Nevertheless, 15% of all children around the globe, and 25% of children in sub-Saharan Africa still do not. (UN 2010) | Figure 1 Children receiving primary education. (UN 2010) Figure 1 Children receiving primary education. (UN 2010)
Policy Briefing Paper Why does it constitute a development issue? Although there has been some progress in the proportions of children of primary school age actually receiving and completing primary education, about 100 million children worldwide are still denied this right. Not surprisingly, most of these children live in developing countries. Figure 2 Children of primary school age not primary education. Expressed in millions (One 2012) Figure 2 Children of primary school age not primary education. Expressed in millions (One 2012) Figure 3 Distribution of out-of-school children by region.
(UN 2010) Figure 3 Distribution of out-of-school children by region. (UN 2010) Jandhyala B. G. Tilak cited in the Journal of International Cooperation in Education (2009) stated that “The importance of basic education for development is widely acknowledged” before going on to say that “basic education constitutes one of the most important means by which the poorest society can improve their situation and guarantee a life of dignity for their citizens. ” (Jandhyala B. G 2009) Therefore it is evident that basic education particularly at a primary level should be a main component of any development strategy.
Many people accept that development in education could be a catalyst to help achieve progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as devised by the UN, but this will involve an intensified pledge to equity. Continuing inequalities are hampering progress regarding the Education for All (EFA) goals at global, regional and national levels. The EFA Global Monitoring Report 2009 shows that within countries, inequalities constructed on “wealth, location, gender, immigration or minority status or disability are the main factors which deny millions of children a good-quality education”.
(Thomas 2011) The World Bank said that “Every person—child, youth and adult—shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning” (World Bank 2010) Before further going on to state that “Education is a powerful instrument for reducing poverty and inequality, improving health and social well-being” It can be said therefore, that education can lay the basis for sustained economic growth in the developing world.
One of the most important reasons for investment in education and achieving the MDG is the fact that “in an increasingly complex, knowledge-dependent world” it can be the “gateway” to even higher levels of education, so therefore education must be the first priority. (World Bank 2010) In fact Irina Bokova UNESCO’s Director-General said that “Youth is Africa’s main resource. Young people are not only the key to the future, they are also the ones constructing the present,” (Thomas 2011). In fact Irina Bokova UNESCO’s Director-General said that “Youth is Africa’s main resource.
Young people are not only the key to the future, they are also the ones constructing the present,” (Thomas 2011). Figure 4 Progress toward universal primary education. (World Bank 2010) Figure 4 Progress toward universal primary education. (World Bank 2010) The British charity, Oxfam, says that if the money is not found, another generation of Africans will be trapped in illiteracy and poverty. Africa risks being left behind as the global economy becomes increasingly based on skills and knowledge in the next century. Millennium Development Goals The Millennium Development Goals are 8 international goals that the UN wants to achieve by 2015.
Goal 2 is to achieve universal primary education in the developing world. Concerning the MDG of achieving universal primary education, sub-Saharan Africa has made more progress than any other region due to strong efforts to increase enrolment. Despite the improvement, almost half of the children out of school live in Sub-Saharan Africa and the majority of them are largely excluded from education, and most will never enter a classroom. Moreover the region has the lowest youth literacy rate (72 per cent in 2009). Figure 5 Progress towards universal primary education.
(UN 2010) Figure 5 Progress towards universal primary education. (UN 2010) Causes and consequences of poor enrolment levels in primary education The main cause of poor enrolment levels in sub-Saharan African is capital. Many countries are unable to afford and implement adequate education strategies. Jandhyala B. G. Tilak cited in Journal of International Cooperation in Education (2009) stated that “Making primary education free and compulsory requires public funds. But governments everywhere are starved of resources for education. Particularly in developing counties the allocations to education have been far from adequate.
” Jandhyala also uses figures to illustrate just how little is spent on education, particularly on the primary sector in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to the rest of the world: “Sub-Saharan Africa allocated 4. 4 per GNP to education, compared to 5. 3 per cent in the developed countries and the world average of 4. 9 per cent in 2005. ” Additionally when looking at primary education specifically “Expenditure on primary education per pupil as per cent of GNP per capita was 13 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2006, compared to 17 per cent in the developed countries and 14 per cent in the world on average.
” (Jandhyala B. G. Tilak 2009) The Guardian published an article in 2010 stating that “A glaring lack of mutual accountability between primary schools and parents, poor financial record keeping and bad management is threatening the quality of basic education in seven African countries, including Uganda. ” Moreover, “poor governance systems and practices, with limited availability of financial documentation at district education offices and schools, which was impeding progress in achieving the six aims of the Education For All (EFA) initiative and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
” (Ford, L and Kavuma, R. 2010) The article then describes the results of the Africa Education Watch: Good governance lessons for primary education report which concludes that increased thought needs to be put into to management training and building expertise on a more local scale to ensure money is well spent. The report also expresses that the implementation of decentralizing may seem a good idea but has led to poor performance and negative financial results. There has been much debate surrounding non-formal education such as farmer training as opposed to formal classroom tuition.
In chapter 5 of ‘Geographies of Development’ (2008) it is suggested that education is “a legacy of the colonial period” and is “often inappropriate for the present-day needs of individuals, communities and nations. ” It uses the example of what the most appropriate form and structure of education provision should be for poorer countries, proposing “what proportion of the budget should be spent on the different sectors (primary, secondary and tertiary)” and later questioning “should more attention be given to non-formal education”?
Such as craft skills as opposed to more formal classroom tuition. (Potter et al. 2008) There has also been much debate over the capability and quality of teaching in sub-Saharan Africa, in fact Novicki (1998) stated that “Among the myriad problems plaguing education in Africa is the low quality of schooling in much of the region, with overly large class sizes and the average number of students per teacher higher than in any other world region except South Asia.
” Many teachers are unqualified, teaching aids are few and far between and textbook provision is desperately poor, therefore learning achievement is low. Novicki also says that there are “unequal opportunities for rural children and the urban poor. ” (Novicki 1998) Another cause of low enrolment levels in primary education is inequality, especially between boys and girls. A lack of education and economic security affects millions of women and girls, whose literacy levels are generally lower than men and boys.
The MDGs attempt to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls’ full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality. Studies have clearly shown that educating girls has a significant impact on the health and welfare of households. Girls who have been educated are more likely to marry later and to engage in economic activity outside the home.
Furthermore, they tend to provide better care and nutrition for themselves and their children which leads to a reduction in disease and lower child mortality. (Potter et al. 2008) It is also evident that many young children have other roles to play in their community and family life. Culturally; education is still not seen as a priority for many people. For instance children are encouraged to stay at home and work on the farm or go out collecting water. Figure 6: Gender parity in education in sub-Saharan Africa (UN 2010) Figure 6: Gender parity in education in sub-Saharan Africa (UN 2010)
Table 1: Riddell, A (On behalf of UNESCO). (2003). Table 1: Riddell, A (On behalf of UNESCO). (2003). Which development strategies have addressed the issue? The 1990 World Conference on Education for All identified a need for “diverse, flexible approaches within a unified national system of education” (Potter et al. 2008) the conference then came to an agreement over 5 broad objectives for primary education: * Teach useful skills * Be more flexible * Get girls into school * Raise the quality and status of teachers * Cut the families school bill(Potter et al. 2008).
Novicki (1998) stated that more partnerships were needed in order to reverse declining enrolment in the early 21st century, she said that “in addition to encouraging national leadership and a coordinated donor approach” partnerships between “parents, students, civil society and teachers unions need to be built in support of education”. (Novicki 1998) In order to achieve the UNESCO EFA goals, the Dakar Framework for Action, which was agreed upon in 2000, sets out a two-part gender equity agenda: first, to achieve gender parity in school participation and second, to improve gender equality in educational opportunities and outcomes.
One development scheme which has seen success in recent years has been the Schools for Africa initiative which has attempted to give education to“ the most disadvantaged children – including those who suffer from discrimination and harassment and those who face extreme poverty, political unrest or natural disaster” (Dolan 2012). The results of this have been that 5. 5 million children across Africa are now receiving better education. The initiative is active in Angola, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
It aims to “operate in the best interest of every child, and uses measurements to improve children’s learning environment in a gender-sensitive way” and this has been shown to lower drop-out rates. Schools for Africa uses a “child-friendly school approach” with sex separated sanitation facilities, safe drinking water (“which has helped children spend more time in classrooms and less time collecting water. ”) and finally better school environments (Dolan 2012). UNESCO says that education is vital to development in sub-Saharan Africa and has its Regional Bureau for Education in Dakar, Senegal.
It has 15 field offices serving sub-Saharan Africa that work to keep education high on the agenda of governments and development partners. Furthermore UNESCO’s International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) focuses on improving the quality of teacher education in the region. In addition UNESCO supports the Basic Education in Africa Program, advocating for countries to adopt legal frameworks which guarantee 8-10 years of uninterrupted basic education. (UN 2010) What has worked well?
United Nations Summit 2010 said that various solutions are being attempted. * Abolishing school fees at primary school level has seen a surge in enrolment in countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Malawi. * Investing in teaching infrastructure and resources – Recruiting referees and volunteers to meet teacher demand in places like Ghana. * Promoting education for girls – Botswana has reduced female drop-out rates by half by implementing readmission policies. Malawi has been promoting girls’ education in grades 1-4 by providing learning materials.
* Expanding access to remote and rural areas – Introducing mobile schools to reach children who do not have regular access. Furthermore introducing a bilingual education program; using indigenous languages to expand access to education for indigenous children in remote areas. (United Nations Summit 2010) Many African governments have focused their reserves from debt relief in the direction of the education sector. Mali, for example, has allotted virtually half its debt relief savings in the way of education.
Debt relief has also enabled many African governments to abolish primary school fees, opening school doors for millions of the poorest children. The Fast Track Initiative (FTI) created in 2002 as a partnership to accelerate progress towards achieving UPE. Developing countries create a national education plan that is endorsed by technical experts and then donors in turn provide technical expertise and additional funding to support the plan. The Tanzanian government instigated a Primary Education Development Program to enhance the primary education system with help from donors.
Between 2002 and 2004, Tanzania hired new primary school teachers, and built 30,000 new classrooms. By 2006, nearly all primary school aged children were enrolled in school. Ethiopia has generated immense strides regarding achieving universal primary enrolment. Thanks to increased budget commitments and increases in development assistance. Beginning in 1997, the Ethiopian government emphasized “increased access, greater equity and improved quality of national education. ” Ethiopia is targeting public spending on education in rural areas.
This move has had a marked impact on demand for and access to education, as distance to school is a significant barrier for many children, especially for girls. (One. org 2012) What needs to be done? Further investment in primary education is clearly needed and Thomas (2011) wrote that “The Financing Education in Sub-Saharan Africa report reveals “tremendous” gains in the provision of basic education on the back of a 6 percent annual increase in real education expenditure across the region in the past decade.
This includes a 48 percent increase in primary enrolment, while enrolment in pre-primary, secondary and tertiary education grew by more than 60 percent over the same period. ” (Thomas 2011) UNESCO declare that achieving the goal of EFA involves understanding what holds girls and boys back, so that policies can be designed to overcome these obstacles and improve access to, and participation in education. Urgent action is needed in countries where the gender gap is still large in primary and secondary education.
An overriding priority is to tackle poverty constraints by reducing the direct and indirect cost of schooling to families and addressing the incidences of child labour. (UNESCO 2003) When deducing what action should be taken in sub-Saharan Africa it seems obvious that capital is needed but it is vital that this capital is spent wisely. That investment should compromise elements from the 1990 World Conference on Education for All which were: teach useful skills, be more flexible, get girls into school, raise the quality and status of teachers and to cut the families school bill.
(Potter et al. 2008) As well as eliminating gender and other inequalities such as those between the rural and urban. Finally, strategies need to involve communities and take a bottom-up approach from a local scale to ensure EFA and achievement of the MDG by 2015. References Dolan, S. (2012). Thanks to supporters, the Schools for Africa programme is reaching millions. Available: http://www. unicef. org/education/index_61242. html Last accessed 15/03/2012 Ford, L and Kavuma, R. (2010). Lack of transparency undermining primary education in Africa.
Available: http://www. guardian. co. uk/katine/2010/feb/23/primary-education-africa. Last accessed 15/03/2012. Jandhyala B. G. Tilak cited in CICE Hiroshima University, Journal of International Cooperation in Education, Vol. 12 No. 1 (2009) pp. 5 ~ 17. (2009). Basic Education and Development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Available: http://home. hiroshima-u. ac. jp/cice/12-1Jandhyala. pdf. Last accessed 15/03/2012. Novicki, M. (1998). Boosting basic education in Africa. Available: http://www. un. org/en/africarenewal/subjindx/114spedu.
htm. Last accessed 15/03/2012. One. org. (2012). Education in sub-Saharan Africa. Available: http://www. one. org/c/us/progressreport/776/. Last accessed 15/03/2012. Potter et al. (2008). Chapter 5: People in the development process. In: Geographies of Development: An Introduction to Development Studies. 3rd ed. London: Prentice Hall. 222-224. Riddell, A (On behalf of UNESCO). (2003). The introduction of free primary education in sub-Saharan Africa. Available: http://unesdoc. unesco. org/images/0014/001469/146914e. pdf.
Last accessed 15/03/2012. The World Bank. (2010). Education key to achieving Millennium Development Goals . Available: http://data. worldbank. org/news/education-key-to-achieving-MDGs. Last accessed 15/03/2012. Thomas, D. (2011). UNESCO: Sub-Saharan African primary education boosted by increased spending . Available: http://web. thisisafricaonline. com/news/2011/04/28/unesco-sub-saharan-african-primary-education-boosted-by-increased-spending/. Last accessed 15/03/2012. UN. (2010). The Millennium Development Goals Report.
Available: http://www. un. org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG%20Report%202010%20En%20r15%20-low%20res%2020100615%20-. pdf. Last accessed 15/03/2012 United Nations Summit. (2010). Goal 2 Achieve Universal Primary Education. In: High-level Plenary meeting of the General assembly. New York: UN Department of Public Information. UNESCO. (2003). Gender and Education for All: Sub-Saharan Africa1. Available: http://www. unesco. org/education/efa_report/zoom_regions_pdf/ssafrica. pdf. Last accessed 15/03/2012.