UN Report Shows Need for Wider Access to Education in Africa

William Merriman is Professor and Dean of the School of Education & Health at Manhattan College. He is one of KDP’s representatives to the United Nations.

William Merriman 05On April 11, Mr. Carlos Lopes, UN Under Secretary-General, gave a report on the 2014 economic status of Africa. The overall theme of the report was that African countries are growing, but their growth has been non-inclusive and there is a need for a new industrial policy framework.

The report indicates that there is a need for wider access to basic services, including education. The Report (pp. 23-28) gives some indicators of the present status of education in Africa:

  • Attending primary school is becoming the norm with most countries having achieved universal primary enrollment (above 90 percent).
  • Nearly half of African countries have achieved gender parity in primary school but there is still bias toward male access over female access.
  • Children and adolescents from the poorest households are at least three times as likely to be out of school as children from the richest households.
  • Secondary school enrollment is at 40 percent in Africa.
  • Even with an increase in teachers of 59 percent between 1999 and 2010, the number of new teachers needed in Africa to achieve just universal primary education has been calculated at more than 2 million.
  • In many countries, the proportion of teachers trained to national standards is very low, and teachers may often lack the necessary subject knowledge and ability to deliver instruction effectively.

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (2014), Economic Report on Africa 2014 – Dynamic Industrial Policy in Africa: Innovative Institutions, Effective Processes and Flexible Mechanisms, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: UNECA.

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