Most of the countries in Africa face severe challenges in developing their education systems. The importance of education simply cannot be overstated in this day and age. But for most children in Africa, education remains inaccessible and even useless. According to the Africa Learning Barometer developed by the Brookings Institution, almost 17 million school-aged children, among a total of 128 million children in Africa, will never get the opportunity to attend a school. Moreover, an additional 37 million children who are already in school receive such poor quality education that they will be on the same level as the children who could not attend school. This certainly causes serious concerns for the future social and economic development of Africa.
Value of Education for African Children
Education is an extremely valuable tool for African children which can help them to get out of their poverty-stricken lives. Not only will it enable them to get a job, but proper education can help them to prevent diseases and help others in the communities. Educated kids are better prepared and hence less likely to be victims of abuse and violence.
Dealing with a Poor Education System
The fact is most African children are unable to attend schools due to various physical, financial and social challenges. A 2013 UNESCO report shows that around 57 million kids do not go to schools and among them 31 million are girls. More than 50% of these deprived children live in and around Sub-Saharan Africa.
Although United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to education showed an effective path to successful planning, execution, observation and supervision, there are still several prominent challenges in developing education in Africa. Innumerable students leave their schools even though they are incapable of reading and writing properly. This makes it even tougher for them to get access to higher education.
Disparity in Education
Another serious issue in Africa’s education system is the inaccessibility of education for girls. Most of the girls do not even get the opportunity to pursue education as they are forced into marriages at an early age. Traditional and cultural boundaries, poor sanitation and living conditions and sexual violence against girls have also significantly contributed increasing this gap.
Lack of Political Will
However, the most important factor for the poor state of education system in Africa is perhaps lack of sufficient political interest. Due to weak partnerships between the government, the private sector and other stakeholders, the education sector has seen minimal investment in the last few years.
What Should Be Done?
Currently there is an urgent need to focus on inequalities in the education system. Moreover the governments, stakeholders and civil society should develop sustainable and helpful partnerships which will increase academic opportunities for boys and girls equally. Governments should develop effective policies to remove gender disparity at all levels of education. Girl students must be given equivalent and easy access to high quality education. It is only by improving education, governments can ensure social, human and economic development.
Elimination of Inequalities in Education
Thankfully, United Nations MDGs that are related to education aim to attain gender equality in primary and secondary education by the year 2015. This will make sure that African children, including girls and ethnic minorities, would get full and complete access to compulsory free primary education. Apart from the MDGs, various other smaller organisations, like HOPE for Children Cameroon (HOPEFCC), are also making various efforts for the development of education in different parts of Africa. However, this progress should continue even after 2015.
Developing Education in Africa
Governments, international community and stakeholders should take effective steps to elevate budgets and investments, build more schools, hire and train better teachers and help to create an enhanced learning environment for the students. Until education standards are raised, the future of millions of African children will be ruined resulting in stagnant economic and social development.