1 in 10 children will not complete primary school in sub Saharan Africa-UNESCO

July 10, 2019 8:30 am
Candidates undertaking their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations in 2013. Photo/CFM-FILE.

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 10 – A new report by UNESCO shows that one in ten children will not complete primary school in 2030 in sub Saharan Africa.

The report released this week for the UN High level Political Forum is based on the current trends across the region.

“The world will fail its education commitments without a rapid acceleration of progress. In 2030, when all children should be in school, one in six aged 6-17 will still be excluded. Many children are still dropping out: by 2030, 40% will still not be completing secondary education at current rates, rising to 50% in sub-Saharan Africa. Without a rapid acceleration, one in ten children in sub-Saharan Africa will not even be completing primary school by the deadline,” the report states, coming almost a third of the way to the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The new global education goal, SDG 4, calls on countries to ensure that children are not only going to school but also learning, yet the proportion of trained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa has been falling since 2000. At current trends, by 2030, learning rates are expected to stagnate in middle-income countries and Latin America, and drop by almost a third in Francophone African countries. Without rapid acceleration, globally, 20% of young people and 30% of adults will still be unable to read by the deadline.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasizes leaving no-one behind yet only 6 per cent of the poorest 20 per cent complete upper secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 48% of the richest.

Finance is also insufficient for accelerating progress: the Global Education Monitoring Report calculated in 2015 that there was a $39 billion annual finance gap to reach the goal and yet aid to education has stagnated since 2010.

In addition, currently less than half of countries are providing the data needed to monitor progress towards the goal. “Countries need to face up to their commitments,” said the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Silvia Montoya. “What’s the point in setting targets if we can’t track them? Better finance and coordination are needed to fix this data gap before we get any closer to the deadline.”

A complementary publication by the Global Education Monitoring Report analyses policies countries say they have implemented to help achieve the education goal since 2015.

Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report said: “Countries have interpreted the meaning of the targets in the global education goal very differently. This seems correct given that countries set off from such different starting points. But they must not deviate too much from the promises they made back in 2015. If countries match their plans with their commitments now, they can get back on track by 2030.”

The Report shows that many countries have prioritized equity and inclusion since 2015 to meet the goal, with school vouchers issued to indigenous students in Bolivia, tuition fees abolished for the poorest in Vietnam and conditional cash transfers given to children with disabilities in South Africa, for example.

Learning has been prioritized too, with more and more countries introducing learning assessments to look at trends over time, and one in four countries, including Djibouti, using learning results to reform their curricula. Many countries have also begun reflecting the new skills called for in the education goal in their curricula and textbooks.

The weakest synergies between countries’ plans and their education commitments are seen in the lack of cross-sectoral collaboration found only in links between education and the labour market and to a lesser extent between education and health as with school feeding programmes seen in Kenya.

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