The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has blamed African governments for the poor state of education in Africa.
Last year, the cultural organization insisted that African governments must be held individually responsible for the sluggish development of the continent’s education sector.
According to UNESCO’s regional director Gwang-Chol Chang, the underperforming schools and teachers in Africa are just victims of the dysfunctional education system across the continent.
Chang also noted that sub-Saharan Africa continues to record the slowest development in terms of global education objectives, with at least 33 million children not going to school and one in four youths not being able to read or write.
“Accountability should start with the government,” Chang was quoted by Reuters.
Failures by African Governments
In his remarks, Chang noted that most of the schools in West and Central Africa are still using European-inspired school curriculums, which are locally irrelevant and inadaptable. He argues that these “foreign” curriculums have left graduates ill-equipped for the job market.
These problems exist because of lack of proper government regulations that would facilitate the formulation of school curriculums that are relevant to local students. Unabated corruption and inflated school fees are also major impediments to a better education sector in Africa.
While most African governments are often strapped for funds, looting of public resources and misplaced priorities have made it difficult for education institutions to get the number of resources they require to improve their standards.
Governments have also fallen short of developing policies that will ensure the education sector in Africa is allocated enough resources to facilitate proper learning in schools.
According to Teopista Birungi Mayanja, the Coordinator of the Africa Network Campaign on the Education for All movement, the continued sidelining of important stakeholders like the civil society, trade unions and commissions in decision-making is also largely to blame for the pitiful standards in the African education sector.
“Unless governments allow all these voices at the table, they will never come up with a credible plan,” Mayanja told Reuters.
African governments have also been blamed for not training enough school teachers to meet the universally recommended teacher to student ratio. In fact, UNESCO notes that the percentage of trained primary school teachers in Ghana and Niger has reduced since 2000.
With the universal free education program, which has allowed children from poor families in Africa to access free education, the number of pupils attending school has risen significantly, leaving many schools overcrowded.
And without enough teachers to teach them, the students are not assured of quality education. It is therefore up to respective African governments to ensure these issues are addressed without further ado.
African leaders must also be alive to the fact that quality education is the most essential foundation for meaningful development in any country around the world.