Missing from school: the education challenge in sub-Saharan Africa

Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and Aaron Benavot, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report

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With the Eurozone in turmoil and sluggish economic growth in the US and elsewhere, investors may well see sub-Saharan Africa – still one of the fastest growing regional economies on earth – as the new frontier. While the region’s economic growth has slowed, falling from 4.5% in 2014 to 3% in 2015, it continues to outpace growth in many of the world’s most advanced economies. However, as the World Bank has noted, the region faces major economic headwinds, from disparities and poverty to falling commodity prices.

Today, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) adds another headwind to the list: serious challenges in the region’s education. If African economies are to become more competitive, they must be able to draw on a schooled and skilled population. Indeed, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognise that the completion of secondary schooling is a minimum to be able to compete in an increasingly globalised economy. Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Basic education, Developing countries, Gender, Learning, Millennium Development Goals, Out-of-school children, Primary school, Secondary school, Skills, Testing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We have a heavy workload: 263 million children and youth are out of school

Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, and Aaron Benavot, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report

infographic _01We have known for years that there are far too many primary-age children out of school: the stagnating numbers have been there for all to see. Far less has been known about the numbers of secondary-age adolescents and youth out of school, and in particular those of upper secondary school age who are – or should be – on the brink of a productive adult life. The numbers are out today, and they are every bit as alarming as we feared they would be.

In total, about 263 million children and youth are out of school, according to new data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). This figure is roughly equivalent to the entire populations of Mexico and Russia combined. When broken down, the numbers show that there are still 61 million children of primary school age (about 6-11 years) who are not in the classroom, and 60 million adolescents of lower secondary school age (12-14 years). The total figure also includes, for the first time ever, the UIS estimate of those of upper secondary school age (15-17 years) who are not in school: 142 million. That is a staggering figure: roughly equal to the entire population of Russia. It is simply unacceptable to squander such a precious human resource, just as they enter adulthood and seek to be active and productive members of their societies. Continue reading

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How to help people love learning

By Muhammad Usman, Pakistan, a 2016 PAL Network Fellow, and ASER Pakistan’s Data Analyst003_PHOTO USMAN BLOG 2016 PALNetwork_Headshot_MuhammadUsman

We listen to the same music.

We watch the same movies.

We eat the same food.

We farm the same land.

We speak the same language.

In so many ways, India feels like a home away from home.

It’s not just these historically ingrained similarities that make India special to me, a Pakistani. There’s something else, too. We do the same work. Barely 400km from my office in Lahore, Pakistan my colleagues in New Delhi are working on the same projects, grappling with the same challenges, and celebrating the same achievements.

What’s more incredible is that it’s not just in India and Pakistan that this work is happening. We belong to a growing global network of 9 full-member and 4 provisional-member countries, working across 3 continents to assess the basic reading and numeracy competencies of over 1 million children annually, in their homes, through citizen-led assessments. Continue reading

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Is overeducation a threat in Latin America?

Raul RamosDr. Raul Ramos is Associate Professor in Applied Economics and Researcher at the Grup d’Anàlisi Quantitativa Regional, University of Barcelona, Spain.

Fortunately, differences between countries with regard to the education levels of their population continues to decline very markedly. According to Barro-Lee’s database , in the last 30 years, while the average number of years of schooling of the adult population in many developed countries has grown moderately (for example, in the United States has gone from 12.4 years in 1980 to 13.5 in 2010), in many other countries the growth has been spectacular. Some examples: in Brazil it has grown from 3 to 8 years  of schooling between 1980 and 2010; in Colombia from 4 to 9; in Mexico from 4 to 8.

Much of this increase is due to the population’s greater access to basic education levels, but progressively the percentage of population that accesses and finishes college is higher. In fact, the percentage of adult population with university studies observed in several Latin American countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Peru)  is between 15% and 30%, the usual values in most developed countries. Continue reading

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The Arguments and Evidence behind Public-Private Partnerships in Education

Donald_Baum_200x280_2By Donald Baum, Assistant Professor of Education Policy and Economics, Brigham Young University

Over the last few months, Liberia has become the site of and source for significant debate over its decision to initiate a large scale public-private partnership (PPP) in education. The new initiative would see management of all the country’s pre-primary and primary schools shifted to private operators. This blog looks at the critiques being made of this move, and suggests essential design features to help ensure success of education PPPs.

Education PPPs are not a particularly new phenomenon. Different combinations of school finance, management, and ownership are prevalent across the world, and have historically been important components of national education systems in low-, middle- and upper-income countries.

2A World Bank review of education policies governing private education in 20 African countries found that 14 (70 %) have an officially-established legal framework for the operation and administration of some type of education PPP. The large majority of these (11) consist of government funding, subsidies, or other financial support to non-state schools. Additionally, private management of public schools is found in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, and Guinea, and a school voucher program is in operation in Mali. Continue reading

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What it’s like teaching refugees in Malawi

By Dede Buloba

1Everyone agrees that education is important in a refugee camp to help those who have had to drop out of school to move across borders. I can speak about this from my experience as refugee, now teaching other refugees in Dzaleka, Malawi.

My name is Dede Buloba. I’m Congolese. I arrived in Malawi in 2007. I taught in secondary schools in the DRC for 8 years, and for 6 years I taught French as a foreign language for adult refugees from various countries (Ethiopia, Somalia, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi), and for a further 6 years I taught French to 18-25 year olds in Malawi.

There are currently more than 23,000 refugees in Malawi. I believe strongly from my time teaching refugees that education is particularly important because it protects them from trafficking, illegal adoption, child marriage, sexual exploitation and child labour. Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Conflict, refugees, Refugees and displaced people, Teachers, teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

When is state funding of private schools a violation of human rights?

By Sylvain Aubry, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

liberia edThe announcement at the beginning of the year by the Ministry of Education of Liberia of its intention to outsource the management of all its pre-primary and primary schools to private providers has spurred vivid discussions on education public-private partnerships (ePPPs, understood here as State funding of private schools).

A perspective on ePPPs that is seldom considered in depth in this debate is the human rights legal angle. Yet, virtually all States in the world have ratified at least one treaty binding them to guarantee the right to education, and many also protect this right it in their domestic legal system, making it legally binding almost anywhere on the globe.  Should an ePPP violate human rights, it would not only be unethical, creating a high reputational risk for both the States and the private contractor, but also illegal, which constitutes a significant legal risk for the parties involved. As the right to education is increasingly being claimed in courts and used by judges to review the legality of countries’ policies, PPPs that undermine it could even be struck down by courts. Continue reading

Posted in Equality, Finance, Human rights, private schools, private sector, Quality of education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment