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School Issues in Africa Today

School Issues in Africa Today

There can be no development in Africa without education

Africa below the Sahara desert has over one-fifth of children between the ages 6 and 11 out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) data, almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school.


School Issues in Africa Today



The quality of education is one of the critical factors affecting the development and learning achievement of young people today. While the notion of education quality is often difficult to define, there are some basic features which are considered key to educational outcomes. These include the quality of the teaching workforce, the availability of adequate educational resources, a supportive learning environment, and suitable access to basic services in instructional settings such as sanitation, clean water and electricity all of these are important for the promotion of learning and educational performance.

In Africa below the Sahara desert, the average class size in public primary schools ranges from 26 pupils in Cabo Verde to 67 in Chad.

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Ethiopia school girls
Zambia school girls
Burkina Faso school boys
Somalia school child
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The level and quality of basic services in a school are important factors that can have a significant and positive impact both on child health and education outcomes. Studies show that safe, adequate water and sanitation facilities in schools, coupled with hygiene education, reduce the incidence of diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.

Furthermore, inadequate access to sanitation may have a negative impact on enrolment and attendance, especially of girls, and on school performance. A lack of toilets which are clean, safe and ideally segregated is bound to discourage children, especially girls, from attending school regularly. In 1 out of 3 countries with available data, more than one-half of schools have no toilets. Shortages are particularly severe in five countries: Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Niger, where at least 60 percent of schools are without toilets.

Class size and class organization are issues that are often debated in relation to education quality. It is generally recognized that larger classes result in lower educational achievements, especially in the early years of schooling. Large classes or multi-grade classes can be difficult for teachers to manage, may result in the adoption of less effective methods of teaching, and often limit the amount of individual attention and guidance students receive. In most countries reporting data, the supply of reading and mathematics textbooks for pupils in public primary schools is not sufficient.

In Guinea, Mali, Niger and Togo, multi-grade classes are on average larger than single-grade classes. There are over 70 pupils per class in Mali where nearly 20% of pupils are taught in multi-grade classes. Four countries (Burundi, Malawi, Mauritius and Rwanda) report having no multi-grade classes. The vast majority of multi-grade classes cover two grades. However, Cape Verde, Chad, the Congo, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali and Niger report classes that cover three or more grades. In Madagascar and Mali, up to one-quarter of multi-grade classes have at least three grades.

The education system in Chad is of particular concern, since studies have shown that in the African context classes exceeding 70 pupils have a negative effect on children’s learning. In fact, it has been demonstrated that – regardless of student grouping – when classes reach this critical size the learning outcomes are generally negative. The availability of educational material, such as textbooks and manuals, is another factor that influences education quality. Several studies in Africa have documented the strong positive effects of textbooks on learning achievement.

Moroccan School

Africa has some of the world’s most glaring education inequalities. All too often, children who are born poor, female, or in rural or conflict-affected regions, face extreme disadvantage in education. Many of the children in school are receiving an education of such poor quality that they are learning very little. More than 600 million Africans still do not have access to electricity, and the number is set to grow in the coming years since by 2050 more than one in four people on our planet will be African.

 "Africa’s future is in the hands of women. Equal education for girls, at all three education levels, is the critical issue” - Olusegun Obasanjo

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