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HomeEDUCATIONAfrican Education Systems in Crisis: UNESCO and African Union Urge Immediate Action

African Education Systems in Crisis: UNESCO and African Union Urge Immediate Action

African Education Systems in Crisis: UNESCO and African Union Urge Immediate Action

UNESCO and the African Union have called on African governments to prioritize equity in their education policies to ensure that all children on the continent have access to quality education.

A joint report by the two organizations highlights that despite progress being made in sub-Saharan Africa, the region still has the largest out-of-school population in the world.

One in five primary school-age children in the region and over 50% of upper secondary school-age adolescents do not attend school. About 80% of children in sub-Saharan Africa are not taught in a language they speak at home, hindering learning outcomes.

The report identifies numerous factors that prevent access to quality education, including geographical location, poverty, gender, disability, crises, conflict and displacement.

It also points out that there are significant gulfs in opportunities between children from the wealthiest and poorest households, between urban and rural areas, and between boys and girls.

The report sets out a series of recommendations, including compulsory secondary education, building more schools, developing adapted curricula, improving the quality of teachers, and providing financial and academic assistance to children.

The report also notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected African education systems significantly, and its impact on educational attainment, learning outcomes and education disparities is still unfolding.

Even before the pandemic, only a few countries in Africa were on track to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals for education.

Governments are called upon to strengthen education systems’ resilience to future crises by developing flexible forms of teaching, scaling up the use of digital technology, and improving data collection to better inform policy planning.

Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said that “the massive disparities in African education systems require urgent action.

“We need to provide all African children and youth with a safe, stimulating, and healthy environment in which they can attain their full potential. Transforming education must be at the heart of countries’ efforts to build meaningful and sustainable development and economic growth.”

Professor Mohamed Belhocine, Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of the African Union Commission, called for the concept of equity to become the guideline for African education policies.

He said that “we need to ensure that every child in rural and disadvantaged urban centres, and in other fragile countries and contexts, is able to receive the education and training they require.”

The launch of the report took place during the African Union’s Heads of States Summit and included a high-level discussion co-hosted by the African Union and UNESCO.

African Education Systems in Crisis: UNESCO and African Union Urge Immediate Action


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