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HomeEDUCATIONUNESCO, UNICEF Calls Eastern and Southern Africa Governments to End Education Crisis

UNESCO, UNICEF Calls Eastern and Southern Africa Governments to End Education Crisis

UNESCO, UNICEF Calls Eastern and Southern Africa Governments to End Education Crisis

A joint statement from Prof. Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa, and Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Eastern, and Southern Africa Regional Director, has urged governments across Eastern and Southern Africa to turn high-level commitments made at last September’s Transforming Education Summit (TES) into concrete action to support the millions of children waiting for their education to be prioritized.

They acknowledged that countries had made progress and steady efforts to strengthen their education systems and adjust to changing times.

However, the numbers are sobering; some 41 million children are out of school across Eastern and Southern Africa.

For too long, business as usual has prevailed, resulting in underfunded schools, underpaid and underqualified teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and outdated curricula, undermining children’s ability to reach their potential.


The statement continued that not only do children need to be in school, but they need to be learning effectively when they are there.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s lowest reading comprehension rate: only one in ten 10-year-olds can read and understand a simple text, with children living in emergencies and protracted crises facing the highest levels of learning poverty.

Children need support to catch up on learning loss through transforming the way and how the education system reaches them: investment in teaching innovatively, curriculum reform, digital education, early years learning, and psychosocial support.

The primary focus must be on building children’s foundational literacy and numeracy, ensuring they learn how to read and write so they start their learning journey independently.


The statement added that at the TES, the international community rallied around six calls to action that each carry the potential to accelerate change in this almost silent crisis.

Yet, if we look at the area of foundational learning – imperative for this region given the shocking data – only four countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have formally endorsed the call to action.

Therefore, UNESCO and UNICEF appeal to governments to stand by their commitments and chart a way forward with practical action and the required resourcing.


The cost of under-investment and lack of innovative approaches in education imperils our common future.

They remain in a situation of colossal crisis, and one that a response of equal proportion will only overcome.

One key action is for governments to allocate at least 20 percent of their national budgets to education.

The average allocation in the region is 16 percent, while some countries are apportioning less than three per cent.

A key opportunity is next month’s African Union Summit, where they hope to see Heads of State renewing their commitment to at least the minimal allocation of 20 percent to education.


To reverse the current learning trends in the region – and to avoid the consequences of failing to educate a generation – governments must prioritize education.

The skills needed to thrive in today’s economies require more young people than ever.

Still, with such extreme levels of low learning, countries face a perfect storm for underachievement, unemployment, and societal and economic breakdown.


2023 marks the mid-point since the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4 must be prioritized as a key enabler to accelerate progress towards all the SDGs against the backdrop of a global recession, growing inequalities, and the climate crisis.

UNESCO, UNICEF Calls Eastern and Southern Africa Governments to End Education Crisis

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