School Yes, Learning No
All across Africa there are some 130 million children that are school-aged, but around 20 million of them will never go to school.
What’s even more frustrating is that almost 40 million more of these children in Africa will go to school, but learn so little that they’re not likely to get into a better position than the kids who did receive no schooling at all.
Consequently, the outlook for social development and economic growth in Africa is, sadly enough, desperate.
This analysis comes from the Brookings Center for Universal Education which developed the new ‘Africa Learning Barometer’ which is based on existing data that were used to create a fundamental learning assessment on the African Continent.
The barometer offers great insights into the state of educational achievements in 28 sub-Saharan African countries. The assessments were set in a way that it showed which students were scoring so low that their education had no or very little added value to their developmental outlook.
The tests are not even reaching the surface of what’s needed to get to reasonable educational achievement. They don’t indicate what these children are missing on skills, knowledge, values, and more of the things that they should be learning at school to become productive, healthy, and responsible community members.
The tests merely provide basic indications on the state of the educational systems and what children are missing out on in the region.
The results of the tests are shocking. We can see 7 countries in the region where some 45% of the children are not meeting the minimally required academic standard if they reach grade 5, and in countries like Nigeria, Zambia, and Ethiopia, more than half of all children have not learned basic skills when they have completed primary school.
Through the Brooking Barometer we now have a clear view of the total number of students that do not meet minimal academic requirements when they finish primary school, how many children are likely to quit their education before the 4th grade, and how many are attending school, but learning nothing at all.
The survey’s results are pure distress. In the current situation, more than 50% of Africa’s sub-Saharan primary school-aged children, more than 60 million – are reaching the age of adolescence without having learned all sorts of basic skills required to become healthy, productive, and successful members of their communities.
The Brookings Barometer also clearly identifies and describes the massive existing inequalities between sub-Saharan Africa’s rich and poor. If we look at the extremely poor education level in the area, we see that students in rural areas have received not even two years of education indicating their huge disadvantages. In urban areas live the rich population and here students have better access to decent education.
In Ethiopia, for example, almost 70% of the poorest population live also in educational poverty, whereas just some 12% of the country’s richest populace have little or no access to educational resources.
We know that over the past decades, much progress has been made towards access to educational resources in Africa, and the level of the system has also significantly improved, but there’s little reason for celebration, as the Brookings Barometer has clearly shown us that we are facing a very deep educational crisis that requires our utmost attention.
If African governments, together with the international communities, will not start working together right away to raise the education standards, the future of millions and millions of African youth is going to be wasted and the economic and social progress in Africa will be at risk.