Education in Africa

Education in Africa

Education in Africa began as a tool to prepare its young to take their place in the African society. The African education experience was strictly set up to prepare the young for society in the African community and not necessarily for life outside of Africa. The schooling system pre- European colonialism consisted of groups of older people teaching aspects and rituals that would help them in adulthood. Education in early African societies included such things as artistic performances, ceremonies, games, festivals, dancing, singing, and drawing. Boys and girls were taught separately to help prepare each sex for their adult roles. Every member of the community had a hand in contributing to the educational upbringing of the child. The high point of the African educational experience was the ritual passage ceremony from childhood to adulthood. There were no academic examinations necessary to graduate in the African educational system.

When European colonialism and imperialism took place it began to change the African educational system. Schooling was no longer just about rituals and rites of passage, school would now mean earning an education that would allow Africans to compete with countries such as the United States and Europe. Africa would begin to try producing their own educated students as other countries had.

However, education in Africa is still less developed than other parts of the world, and many African countries have low rates of participation. Schools often lack many basic facilities, and African universities suffer from overcrowding and staff being lured away to Western countries by higher pay and better conditions.


According to UNESCO's "Regional overview on sub-Saharan Africa", in 2000 only 58% of children were enrolled in primary schools, the lowest enrollment rate of any region. UNESCO also reported marked gender inequalities: in most parts of Africa there is much higher enrolment by boys, but in some there are actually more girls, due to sons having to stay home and tend to the family farm. Africa has more than 40 million children, almost half the school-age child population, receiving no schooling. Two-thirds of these are girls. The USAID Center reports as of 2005, forty percent of school-aged children in Africa do not attend primary school and there are still 46 million African children that have never stepped into a classroom.

The regional report produced by the UNESCO-BREDA education sector analyst team in 2005, show that less than 10% of African children are now excluded from the system. However 4 out 10 children still did not complete primary school in 2002/2003. So, five years after the World Education Forum and the adoption of the Millennium Goals, progress at primary level is far from decisive. The analysis highlights that now principal efforts should be directed to reducing the number of dropouts per level. It appears also that geographical disparities (rural areas/urban areas) or economic disparities (low income households/wealthy households) are more significant and take longer to even out than gender disparities. From the quality point of view, the existing data from school achievement evaluation programmes and of household surveys indicates very significant disparities in country performance, between the different countries and within each country.

This report shows besides that secondary (lower and higher levels) and higher education enrolments have progressed proportionally more than primary enrolment over the period 1990 – 2002/2003 which questions the reality of policy priority given to primary education. The strong pressure for educational continuity from the majority already benefiting from schooling explains this trend. To this must be added the weakness of mechanisms regulating pupil flow between the different levels of education system.

In 2005, the inventory and trends show a definitive risk of not reaching universal primary enrolment by 2015.


Initiatives to improve education in Africa include:
* British Airways' "Change for Good in Africa" project which, in collaboration with UNICEF, opened the model school Kuje Science Primary School in Nigeria in 2002.
* Elias Fund - Provides scholarships to kids in Zimbabwe to get a better education.
* [ Fast Track Initiative]
* NEPAD's E-school program, an ambition plan to provide internet and computer facilities to all schools on the continent.

ee also

External links

*dmoz|Regional/Africa/Education/|Africa - Education
* [ portal for education in Africa]

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