Urgent action is needed to tackle a “twin crisis” in access to education and the quality of teaching, according to the 2012 Africa Progress Report, Jobs, Justice and Equity: Seizing Opportunities in Times of Global Change, which was launched on Friday at the World Economic Forum on Africa, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“With 30 million children out of school and many of those in school failing to master basic literacy,” the report says, “Africa is ill-equipped to generate jobs and take its place in a knowledge-based global economy.”
Calling for a stronger focus on education, along with better funding mechanisms, the report says African governments and their development partners should make a “big push” towards the 2015 development goals, “focusing on the most disadvantaged countries, children who are being left behind and the need to improve learning achievement.”
To illustrate how disadvantages linked to wealth, gender and location reinforce one another in limiting opportunities for education, the report refers to the Deprivation and Marginalization in Education database developed by the GMR team for the 2010 EFA Global Monitoring Report, Reaching the marginalized. As the figure on Nigeria reproduced in the Africa Progress Report shows (below), poor rural Hausa women aged 17 to 22 average less than one year in school, compared with over nine years for urban males from wealthy households. According to the Africa Progress Report, the number of those aged 0-14 is set to increase in Nigeria by more than 25 million over the next decade, magnifying the the challenges for education and youth employment.
The report warns that Africa’s strong economic growth is at risk because of rising inequality and the marginalization of whole sections of society. The need for equitable growth is all the more crucial, the report says, because the continent’s population is expected to double in three decades, and continue to rise into the second half of the 21st century.
Addressing the skills deficits that will be a focus of the 2012 EFA Global Monitoring Report on youth, skills and work, the report says: “These deficits represent an enormous cost to society in terms of lost potential for economic growth and social cohesion. Yet few countries have put in place, on the scale required, strategies for providing ‘second-chance’ education programmes for young people who missed out in their earlier years, technical and vocational education and training, and support for training in the informal sectors where the vast majority of Africa’s young people work.”
The Africa Progress Report is published annually under the auspices of the Africa Progress Panel, a group chaired by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, whose members include Michel Camdessus, Bob Geldof, Olusegun Obasanjo, Graça Machel, Robert Rubin, and Muhammad Yunus.