Education is the key driver to development, yet in sub-Saharan Africa progress has stalled. It’s left almost 30 million children out of school, half the world’s total, with damaging consequences for child, community and continent.
So what’s the way forward? One is the proposal by Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for global education, for a humanitarian fund for education to provide schooling for children affected by conflict. At present humanitarian funds are provided for food and shelter. Very little is spent on education in humanitarian settings. The new fund would provide targeted support for the children in conflict-affected states who are most likely to be out of school. A decision on that is expected at a UN Summit in May, and without it, the chances are that almost half of the out-of-school children in Africa will never see the inside of a classroom.
Perhaps the key to it however, is the renewing of the global commitment to education so well set out in the new sustainable development goals. Replacing the millennium development goals, they supplement the goal of completion of primary education with some of the targeted interventions needed to make this a reality: support for children with disabilities, literacy and numeracy for young people and adults who missed out first time round, and a clear commitment to education in Africa.
Also welcome is a commitment to increase the supply of qualified teachers. Teacher shortages are currently one of the biggest constraints, leading to children in some of the poorest countries, including Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Malawi, Mali and Senegal, learning in classes of more than 100 pupils.
Education is essential if people are to participate effectively in the lives of their communities and contribute to democratic processes in their country. AET envisages a continent in which all African nations provide appropriate education for their citizens, It’s at the heart too, of the world community’s development goals and is realisable if it provides the substance to make a reality of its vision.
The Africa Educational Trust is a specialist organisation that believes supporting quality education is key for changing individuals, communities and countries for the better. It operates projects across four countries in East Africa that encompass teacher training, support for young female students, the provision of lending libraries and mentoring services. Find out more at http://africaeducationaltrust.org/