Education in Africa – Bridging the Gaps in 2019

Victoria Akindele
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The year 2018 has gone and the future success of the African continent lies to a large degree in its ability to hone the skills and talents of its ever-growing youth population. However, some argue that the current education system in Africa uses outdated methods and is not preparing children for the future.

Problems of education in Africa connect to funding, teacher quality and the status of the teaching profession, student academic performance and standardised testing, racial imbalances, and equal educational opportunity. The lack of parental involvement seems to be a problem for education also. Parental involvement in their child’s education makes them feel good about themselves. They usually have higher grades and higher test scores on standardised tests, classroom assessments. It is important to have quality teachers that care about the students and that encourage parents on how important it is to be involved with their child’s education.

Schools, districts, states, and the federal government should be financially accountable to the public with policymakers accountable to provide the resources needed to produce positive results.

Making favourable policies

New year, new policies! Policies should assist and encourage parents, families, and communities to be actively involved and engaged in their public schools. These policies should require professional development programs for all educators to include the skills and knowledge needed for effective parental and community communication and engagement strategies. And finally they should provide incentives or require employers to grant a reasonable amount of leave for parents to participate in their children’s school activities. A qualified, caring, diverse, and stable workforce in our schools requires a pool of well prepared, highly skilled candidates for all vacancies, quality induction for new teachers with mentoring services from trained veteran teachers, opportunities for continual improvement and growth for all employees, working conditions in which they can be successful, and professional compensation and benefits. School funding systems must provide adequate, equitable and sustainable funding. Making taxes fair and eliminating inefficient and ineffective business subsidies are essential prerequisites to achieving adequacy, equity, and stability in school funding. Elementary Secondary Education.

The youths are the present and the future

The energy of Africa’s youths can go only so far without education. The entrepreneurial and knowledge revolution that is needed to ensure a prosperous future for the continent can happen only if there is also an education revolution. Simply put, we need to get all of Africa’s children in school, so that the next generation of entrepreneurs has the skills it needs to succeed.

Africa faces huge challenges in reforming its education sector. While access to education has expanded dramatically over the last 25 years, and more boys and girls are in classrooms than ever before, many young people are still not learning what they need to thrive now and in the future. If current trends continue, by 2050 some one-third of Africa’s one billion young people will lack basic proficiency in math, reading, and other subjects. Millions will be unemployable and unproductive.

Today’s educational shortcomings weaken Africa’s development capacity. According to the World Economic Forum, Africa needs another one million university-trained researchers to tackle its most pressing health, energy, and development challenges.

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But educating those scientists and potential entrepreneurs is an uphill battle. Technology has transformed the modern workplace, but curricula, modes of learning and instruction, and teacher quality all continue to lag. Even good schools exhibit a gap between the skills students need such as like critical thinking and problem solving and what they are being taught. Unless such shortcomings are addressed, Africa’s future workforce will be unable to lead the type of change many are expecting.

One of the biggest obstacles to improving education quality is financing. Today, only 10% of official development assistance funds education programs in poor countries. Clearly, that share needs to increase. But even an increase in international funding levels would not be enough to ensure that every child in every school was learning. To accomplish that, we need new approaches to supporting education and new mechanisms to solicit and deliver financing.

But change needs to start at home and should start with the year 2019. The facility will succeed only if African countries increase their domestic spending on education. On average, the poorest countries spend just 3% of their national budgets on schooling, while middle-income countries spend an average of 4%. Calculated data indicate that those figures will need to increase to 5-6% to make a lasting difference. While investments in physical infrastructure like roads and railways are critical, investments in young minds are equally important.

It is said to cost about $400 a year to educate a school-age child in Africa. That is a fortune for a poor family struggling to make ends meet. But for governments in Africa and around the world, it is a small price to pay to train the creators of future prosperity. After all, as Nelson Mandela famously said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and Africa of course is not an exemption.

Fixing the loopholes

Quality education still remains an illusion to many of Africa’s youth. Access and quality of education must go hand in hand. Quality without access will lead to inequality and exclusion; access without quality will limit the potential and would not bring about the desired results, and we cannot continue along the same path of the traditional industrial model of education this coming year 2019.

We need to make lifelong learning a reality, make it successive, because people learn at different pace. We need to give an opportunity to those who are potentially left behind. We need to break the barriers of conservatism that exist in the education space so that we can make proven solutions accessible to more people.

To get the best results in 2019, education must adapt to the needs of the learner. To widen access to education across Africa, three pathways to learning should be considered, including formal, non-formal, and informal approaches. Beyond structured classrooms, knowledge can be acquired during conference-style seminars, community-based meetings, or even during group sports events — none of which include the regular teacher, students and desks setting.

The global “learning crisis,” as defined by the World Bank, refers to more than 90 percent of children attending schools in Africa who do not read at their grade level and are unable to demonstrate that they have effectively learned the topics taught in classrooms.

Innovations to tackle the “learning crisis” range in form and function from new instructional techniques to results-based financing instruments that incentivize quality. And while no single innovation is ever a silver bullet, sharing knowledge about what’s working and scaling successful interventions could accelerate improvements in learning.

Public schools could learn from what’s working in private school settings, where there is typically more funding for robust monitoring and evaluation processes. That could allow for better knowledge sharing.

Some people agree that domestic resource mobilization must be the primary funding source for national education systems. However, public-private partnerships and innovative financing models, such as pension funds and pooled funds, could help fill gaps.

Over the past decade, aid funding for education has declined to less than 10 percent of global official development assistance, leaving much of the financing to national governments strained by conflicting priorities. The Education Commission estimates that international financing for education will need to increase from the current level of $12 billion per year to $89 billion per year by 2030 to adequately cover education costs in low-income countries.

The introduction of technology to the classroom offers vast opportunities to enhance learning and improve data collection to drive down costs for programs. However, to fully harness its capabilities, investments in digital infrastructure and measures to expand teacher competencies must accompany educational tech. To facilitate the expansion of digital learning, governments should also establish common learning platforms and introduce regulations that support innovation.


While some argue that an over-dependence on technology could produce adverse effects, stifling the communication and critical thinking skills of students, others say that introducing technology at a young age better prepares students for a digital world and makes them more competitive in today’s job market.

We hear quite often that education technology makes students lazy, but the opportunities it poses to reach very deprived schools should be considered.

Also, innovations must be introduced as a grassroots effort in order to garner adequate adoption and support, experts said. While innovations may challenge norms and require extensive community support for inclusion, they can be reinforced by national legislation or with international funding.

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But without local backing and advocacy, many delegates suggested that those bigger-picture efforts will be undermined. Local input should be included in planning, investment, and implementation phases to customize programs and help determine scalability.

There is no better time for an entrepreneurial and knowledge revolution in Africa than the coming year 2019. Only a properly educated workforce and entrepreneurial class will have the skills and drive to thrive as new technologies change the nature of work, leisure, the environment, and society and to tackle our continent’s most pressing challenges.

When French President Emmanuel Macron visited Nigeria in July 2018, he offered a bold prediction: if Africa’s youngest entrepreneurs worked hard and innovated, he said, they would change their countries and transform the world which I believe is a valid statement.


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