| Primary education in sub-Saharan Africa
| Policy Briefing Paper
| 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...
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The World Bank
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.
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