Africa: Education for All, 04/25/00

Africa: Education for All, 04/25/00

Africa: Education for All, 1 Date distributed (ymd): 000425 Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +economy/development+ Summary Contents: This is one of two postings today containing documents related to the Education for All theme featured at the World Education Forum (Dakar 2000), being held in Dakar, Senegal from April 26-28, 2000. For extensive information on the Forum see the Forum home page
( Information on the regional meetings and country reports, including the 6-10 December 1999 Sub-Saharan Africa regional meeting and the 24-27 January 2000 Arab States and North Africa meeting can be found at: Additonal related information is at:

The Association for the Development in Education web site is at:, and includes a new database of projects at

Later this week the APIC/ECA Electronic Roundtable will open its fourth session, on Education and Culture, with initial panel presentations. To sign up or to review the archive of earlier sessions, visit the Roundtable home page ( Additional resources on education and culture can be found on the Africa Policy web site at: and

The other related posting today has documents from the non- governmental Global Campaign for Education.

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EFA (Education for All) Bulletin No. 38, Education for All in Africa

[Other articles in this issue can be found at:]

Finding African solutions to African problems

Despite the daunting challenges facing basic education in sub-Saharan Africa, the continent is finding its own way in education. And even though resources are limited, there no shortage of innovation, optimism and courage.

When Evelyn Karidakai, the Liberian Minister of Education, received the invitation to participate in the global EFA 2000 Assessment nearly two years ago, her first reaction was: "After seven years of civil war, we have nothing to report".

But to her own surprise Liberia actually had an interesting Education for All story to tell. Thanks to non-governmental organizations, religious groups and communities, a number of schools in Liberia and in refugee camps in neighbouring countries had managed to stay open throughout the war. Moreover, the National Teachers Association remained active so that after the war it was ready to resume its activities and mobilize teachers both inside and outside the country. "This made it easier to return to normal and create an environment for decentralization and innovations," Karidakai says.

Liberia is one of many African countries facing enormous obstacles to realizing Education for All. Only some ten countries in Africa are on track to achieve the education goals they set after the World Conference on Education for All in 1990. However, during the sub-Saharan African Conference on Education for All, held in Johannesburg from 6 to 10 December 1999, it became clear that "all is not gloom and doom in Africa", as one participant expressed it. Twenty-five case studies of successful country initiatives in education were presented at the Biennale of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), which was held during the EFA conference. These stories confirmed the scope of innovations taking place in Africa.

"In the past ten years an unprecedented number of education reforms, programmes and commissions have made education an issue being discussed in buses and bars," said Gabriel Mharadze Machinga, Minister of Education of Zimbabwe. "Now Africa has to show commitment. Africa has to act."

An African Renaissance

Many participants pointed to renewed Afro-optimism and even an African renaissance. They cited recent economic recovery in certain countries, the emergence of strategies based on popular initiatives and new political leadership.

According to the Declaration adopted at the Johannesburg conference, "the foundation of education systems shall be built on African values and indigenous knowledge systems aimed at liberating children, youth and adults from mental and psychological domination and, at the same time equipping them with relevant knowledge, attitudes and skills for a dignified and fulfilling life."

"We must find African solutions to African educational problems," declared Kader Asmal, Minister of Education of South Africa.

The EFA 2000 Assessment reveals the enormity of the challenges facing sub-Saharan Africa.

The number of wars and internal conflicts have escalated in the past ten years, today nearly a third of the forty-five countries in sub-Saharan Africa are embroiled in international or civil wars. As a result, nearly a third (some 6.5 million) of the world's refugees live in Africa.

Meanwhile, Africa has the highest population growth rate (2,6 per cent) and the fastest urban growth rate (4,3 per cent) in the world, intensifying problems of poverty, unemployment and distress.

The debt burden is another major obstacle, shifting much-needed resources from social spending to debt repayments. Africa counts some thirty of the world's forty-two heavily-indebted countries and many participants expressed hope that the newly expanded Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative (HIPC) will accelerate debt relief efforts to more countries and succeed in linking debt relief to poverty reduction. Poor governance across the continent and lack of transparency are also cited as major problems.

"This has been aggravated by the negative impact of a global system which is biased against third world countries, while the HIV/AIDS pandemic has had devastating effects on development in general and education in particular," the Johannesburg Declaration states.

The impact on education

The forty-five African country reports prepared for the EFA 2000 Assessment show that governments have primarily focused on expanding access to education in the past decade. While some forty million African primary school-age children are out of school, at least 20 million more school-age children are in school today compared to 1990.

Countries such as Cape Verde, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe have achieved primary enrolment rates of 90 per cent or more. The synthesis report prepared for the conference indicates that government policy can have an immediate effect. In Uganda, for example, where primary education was given free for four children per family in 1997, enrolment doubled from 2.6 million to 5.2 million in two years.

"The best results have occurred in countries that were already on the right track in 1990," says Pape Sow, co-author of the synthesis report. "Countries such as Angola and the Central African Republic, where civil strife has set the agenda, have seen their education system stagnating or even deteriorating."

African women have still to benefit from improvements, though. The gender gap is not any narrower, despite the fact that girls' education now figure high on most governments' agendas. Existing policies have been revised and new initiatives introduced in many countries to create a girl-friendly environment in schools. Benin introduced a bill in 1993 that exempted girls in rural areas from paying school fees. In Eritrea, up to 300 female teachers have been trained over the past few years to boost girls' enrolment, and many governments in sub-Saharan Africa are now allowing young mothers back to school after childbirth.

"The lack of progress in closing the gender gap is mainly due to traditional beliefs and practices," says Ko-Chih Tung, Assessment co-ordinator in Eastern and Southern Africa. "Girls may be expected to help look after home and siblings and forced to marry young, or else their parents lack trust in the education system."

Low achievements

But even the good news of increased enrolments is undermined by the fact that 25 per cent of those who are in school repeat. Moreover, the number of pupils dropping out before grade 5 has been on the increase in almost half of the countries for which data are available. "The increase of pupils is seriously affecting the quality of education in our schools," says the Minister of Education of Malawi, Ken Lipenga. In Malawi, only a third of children starting school in 1995 were expected to reach grade 5.

Providing wider access and increased quality is therefore an inherent contradiction, as one government official pointed out. "We broaden access to education but get low quality because of huge class sizes and overworked teachers," she said.

Most countries face problems in producing and distributing relevant and appropriate textbooks and teaching materials such as mathematical instruments or maps, and book development is in its infancy in most countries.

Educational surveys on pupils' learning achievement carried out in eleven African countries in 1999 indicate that achievements in numeracy, literacy and life skills are still below the minimum mastery level set in 1990. And there are serious disparities both between and within individual countries.

"African education has often tended to concentrate on elites rather than to reach the marginalized masses of learners," says Vinayagum Chinapah, educational survey co-ordinator at UNESCO. "To aggravate matters, countries have often borrowed 'standard' models of education for all which pay little or no attention to country-specific issues."

Meeting local learning needs

Dissatisfaction with current outputs has encouraged many countries to re-orient their education systems. Kenya, for example, is in the process of making education more responsive to the needs of learners by introducing more vocationally-oriented subjects and concentrating on disadvantaged groups, particularly girls. In Mozambique, a democratic and participatory process is being used to develop a new curriculum. In Mali, Chad and Togo, community schools are successfully responding to local learning needs.

Zimbabwe, Botswana and Kenya have invested heavily in teacher training and, despite the difficult circumstances under which teachers often operate, they remain a priority of many governments. On an average, 90 per cent of education budgets are spent on teacher salaries.

Areas such as early childhood education and adult education have received increasing attention over the decade but progress remains limited. Early childhood care and development still receives very little government funding. In Central and Western Africa, for example, only 3 per cent of all children attend pre-school activities.

Adult education, the bedrock for life-long learning, continues to be the headache of many African governments. UNESCO estimates that 142 million African adults are illiterate, compared to 126 million in 1980, and some fourteen countries continue to have illiteracy rates close to 60 and 70 per cent of the adult population. A positive new trend is that more women than men enrol for adult literacy classes and several countries areestablishing literacy classes in rural clinics and schools where women are likely to be present.

Needed: new partners

One of the crucial problems in Africa is the lack of resources. Today, governments spend only some 2 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. The Johannesburg Declaration suggests that governments increase this figure to at least 7 per cent.

However, education is no longer expected to remain the sole responsibility of government. Virtually all countries now advocate the need to forge alliances with multiple partners, both external and internal. "The era of regarding civil society purely as a tax base is giving way to one in which everyone is a participant and problem-solver with their own unique contribution to make," the synthesis report states.

But breaking down barriers takes time. "Non-formal and informal education are still not in the same league as formal education," comments Berewa Jommo of the International Community Education Association in Kenya. "Although these barriers are fading they still exist," she says. Together with some fifty different African and international non-governmental organizations, Berewa Jommo attended a regional consultation prior to the EFA conference.

The efficiency of external funding was also criticized during the conference. One participant pointed to an over-emphasis on construction by both governments and donors, and a lack of emphasis on building up the capacities of African institutions. Another mentioned the time-consuming task of dealing with donors: "Although external financing in education amounts to just 2 per cent of the overall education budget, many education ministries spend 80 per cent of their time dealing with donor agencies. How can one effectively manage an education system like that?" he asked.

What now?

Paul Bennell, an Africa specialist, has made one of the few existing calculations of the challenges facing stakeholders in Africa. "Unless government and donor funding is at least doubled over the next fifteen years, the goal of primary education for all by 2015 will remain unattained," he says, referring to the goals set by the 1995 United Nations Social Summit in Copenhagen. Many parents, he explains, do not see education as a sound investment that directly improves household welfare. One thing is sure: if the present low enrollment and drop-out in Africa continue, the number of children out of school will continue to increase.

An African framework for action to help reverse these daunting perspectives is currently in the making. Together with the frameworks drawn up by the five other regional EFA conferences, it will feed into the global action framework expected to be adopted at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, next April.


Africa: Education for All, 2 Date distributed (ymd): 000425 Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +economy/development+ Summary Contents: This is one of two postings today containing documents related to the Education for All theme featured at the World Education Forum (Dakar 2000), being held in Dakar, Senegal from April 26-28, 2000. For extensive information on the Forum see the Forum home page
( Additional links are included in the other posting today, with an article reporting on African developments in UNESCO'S EFA Bulletin.

This posting features a statement by the non-governmental Global Campaign for Education. Additional information on the campaign can be found on the site of Community Aid Abroad -- Oxfam Australia ( There is also a campaign web site
( Unfortunately it features graphics-intense, hard-to-print and hard-to-read pages, but it does have some up-to-date information on Campaign activities at the Dakar meeting. Oxfam's 1999 paper "Education Now: Break the Cycle of Poverty" can be found at (

Later this week the APIC/ECA Electronic Roundtable will open its fourth session, on Education and Culture, with initial panel presentations. To sign up or to review the archive of earlier sessions, visit the Roundtable home page ( Additional resources on education and culture can be found on the Africa Policy web site at: and

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The World Education Forum in Dakar, success or failure? Our bottom line position.

April 2000

The Global Campaign for Education, a coalition of civil society organisations working on education all over the world, has developed the following core positions on the forthcoming World Education Forum in Dakar, drawing on regional consultation processes (including conferences in Johannesburg, Santa Domingo, Bangkok, Recife and Accra). We will judge the success of the Dakar Forum on whether it achieves the following:

1. An unequivocal commitment to free and compulsory education as a basic right for all children up to the age of 15 by 2015.

Dakar must agree explicit statements opposing all forms of cost-sharing and cost-recovery in basic (primary and lower secondary) education. Where it is necessary for governments to raise additional revenue for basic education, this should be done through equitable and transparent forms of taxation rather than through flat-rate fees and unregulated local levies, which penalise the poor. There should be a direct recognition that such approaches effectively deny poor people, and especially girls, their right to education.

In order to ensure that the momentum towards this is developed, Dakar should agree a commitment to providing free basic education for all children by 2005 (i.e. removing all direct costs of basic education by this date). There should be a re-statement of the commitment to achieve gender parity in basic education by 2005. There should also be clear statements made that education is a basic right of all citizens and a key responsibility of the State.

2. Clear and time-bound processes for countries to agree their own targets and plans of action for achieving Education for All goals, with binding mechanisms for civil society participation.

The Jomtien Declaration failed in large part due to a lack of targets that were both clear and realistic and also nationally owned. Signatories to the Dakar Framework must commit themselves to developing national plans of action for education by 2002.These plans must be transparently and democratically negotiated with all significant national stakeholders, and set out how to achieve national education goals within the broad framework of the 2015 targets, and within government expenditure frameworks.

A central part of these plans should be the agreement by 2001 of clear and binding mechanisms for the ongoing democratic participation of civil society in framing national education strategies and increasing accountability to citizens and civil society organisations across all levels of the education system. An enabling environment for NGOs asnd civil society coalitions on education is essential if they are to become constructive partners in achieving education for all.

National action plans must demonstrate how the quality of education will be improved, to ensure that all formal and non-formal public education is relevant, responds to local contexts, and achieves explicit targets for learning achievement. National strategies should include costed and practical steps to address the need to bring high-quality teaching skills and active learning to every public school. They should also include steps to create decentralised accountability and democratic oversight at every level of the education system, from local schools and district authorities to provincial and national ministries. Specific attention should be given to developing mechanisms to involve teachers, parents and children in the management of schools.

Each national plan should include a gender audit to track trends in and reasons for gender disparities, and the national education plans must include explicit, costed and time-bound proposals for removing the causes of these disparities by 2005.

3. Commitment to a Global Action Plan with clear resource commitments by governments and donors

The Dakar Forum must agree a Global Action Plan that will ensure that no government that is serious about education is denied the necessary resources to achieve basic education for all. This Plan would include a Compact for Africa to address Africa's particular resource constraints. Such a plan would require joint government and donor action.

Governments must commit themselves publicly to guaranteeing their part of the necessary resources for basic education, including increases in the proportion of GDP allocated to basic education where necessary (e.g. to a minimum of 4% in low-income countries). Governments should be urged to secure increases in revenue from progressive taxation, reduce excessive military expenditure and other unproductive expenditures; and prioritise investment in basic education while ensuring a balanced, poverty-focused investment in upper secondary and higher education.

Donors must ensure that all governments that are serious about education have access to the necessary resources to achieve basic education for all. A key step towards this will be to increase aid to basic education from the current level of 2% to at least 8% of total aid budgets, to increase overall aid budgets and to ensure that low-income countries receive an appropriate share of aid flows. Grants and debt relief, rather than loans, should be the main forms of finance for basic education.

Donors should commit to increased and rapid debt relief, improving progress of the Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative (HIPC2). Debt relief should add to aid flows and not undermine them, and be linked to the national education plans in the context of wider poverty reduction plans.

4. Clear commitments made to improving equity in the quality of education

Poor people generally receive low quality education and expansion of access has often led to a further loss of quality. It is essential that quality be recognised as an equity issue. The challenge should be to work towards equity in quality. Governments should immediately identify and reverse existing disparities in per capita funding which discriminate against rural communities, ethnic minorities and underdeveloped regions, in order to achieve equitable spending per learner by 2005. They should further commit themselves to delivering extra funding to meet the needs of schools in poor and marginalised areas, in order to bring all schools up to agreed national standards of quality by 2015 and to ensure that curricula, teaching materials and methods are responsive to the needs of marginalised groups..

5. Clear commitments made to improve the quality and nature of aid to education

The quality of aid must be improved, with a greater focus on poverty, reduced reliance on expatriate technical assistance and increased national ownership. Most importantly, education aid must become truly co-ordinated - with the national education plans acting as the basis for coordinated sector-wide budgetary support in the context of national poverty reduction strategies.

A core code of conduct should be agreed to bind donors to following good practices in the disbursement of aid to education. For example, governments should have single accountability lines rather than having to respond to multiple and bureaucratic donor requirements. The monitoring and control of aid programmes should be turned over to government in partnership with civil society. Consultative Group meetings should be held in and chaired by the host country, and civil society groups from that country should be allowed to attend these meetings. Aid commitments should be provided within a medium-term framework to ease government planning and ensure predictable resource flows. An urgent review should be undertaken by each donor agency to determine the reasons for non-disbursed aid and to change their own practices and procedures to increase future rates of disbursement. Donors should immediately abolish all procedures and requirements that result in the tying of education aid to donor-country goods and services, and procurement policy must be reformed to encourage the development of local contracting. Governments should decide what technical assistance they need and who should provide it.

Positive changes to aid must not be contradicted or undermined by wider institutional policies of the IMF or World Bank. Policy advice and financial support from the IMF, World Bank or regional development banks, must keep education in central focus at all times. All programmes should be designed with education as an integral part of poverty reduction and human development. In addition to ensuring that macro-economic policies and targets prioritise poverty reduction (e.g. including aid grants in calculations of the fiscal deficit, reviewing inflation targets etc.), this would also include ensuring protection of access to basic education during financial crisis, and support for free basic education.

6. Clear and measurable commitment made to adult literacy and a re-statement of the vision of life-long learning.

The low priority attached to adult learning in the past decade must be reversed, with women's literacy accorded the same high level priority as that accorded to the education of girls. A clear goal should be established, at least to end gender disparities in adult literacy by 2010. A clear statement should be made about the importance of integrating adult literacy with wider processes of community development and empowerment.

Since Jomtien the vision of Education For All has been reduced in practice to "Education For School-Age Children". The expanded vision must be asserted to prevent utilitarian interpretations that justify investment in education only by its knock on effects. Education is a right and that right starts from early childhood and continues through adulthood into old age.

7. Strategic recognition of the present and future impact of HIV/AIDs on education and its resource implications

In the coming decade, particularly in Africa, but increasingly across the world, HIV/AIDs will have a devastating impact on education systems. Governments need to develop innovative responses to ensure that children in families affected by HIV/AIDS will not lose their access to education. Plans need to be made now to cope with the loss of teachers and with the new pressures on children.

8. Democratisation, decentralisation and empowerment of the present Education For All structures and mechanisms.

The present EFA structures set up after Jomtien are too centralised in Paris and lack legitimate representation from southern governments or civil society. This has led to a lack of ownership and a loss of momentum. Agreement needs to be reached to ensure strong representation of southern governments and civil society in international EFA structures post-Dakar. Resources, technical expertise and monitoring of progress also need to be decentralised with major investment in a regional level EFA capacity, particularly for Sub-Saharan Africa. The building up of human resources at a regional level must be given priority - replacing the domination of structures and processes by Northern experts and consultants.

At the same time these more representative international structures need to be empowered. The right to education is already enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but there are no mechanisms for enforcing this right. National civil society alliances with legitimate concerns should have the right to call for the international EFA structures to investigate cases where there are clear violations of the right to education. The EFA structures should then have the power to call for an investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur on Education or the regional Human Rights Commissions. If these find against a government they can call for sanctions.

9. A commitment to a mid-term global review and a possible official UN Conference.

A comprehensive review should be planned for 2006 to identify progress against the major international targets on education. Both national and donor action plans should specify mid-term targets for each EFA goal, and specify explicit additional resourcing and contingency commitments if these targets are missed. If the mid-term review shows that a substantial number of countries continue to be off-track then an official UN Conference on Education with Heads of State should be convened for 2010 at the latest. This would help to catalyse the additional momentum that would clearly be needed with just five years to go to 2015.


1. An unequivocal commitment to free education as a basic right for all children up to the age of 15 by 2015;

2. Agreement on clear and time-bound follow up processes at a national level, with binding mechanisms for civil society participation;

3. Commitment to a global action plan with clear resource commitments by governments and donors;

4. Clear commitments to be made to improving equity in the quality of education;

5. Clear commitments to improving the quality and nature of aid to education;

6. A clear and measurable commitment to adult literacy and a re-statement of the vision of life-long learning;

7. A strategic recognition of the present and future impact of HIV/AIDs on education;

8. The democratisation, decentralisation and empowerment of the Education For All structures and mechanisms;

9. A commitment to a mid-term global review and a possible official UN Conference with Heads of State in 2010.


Message-Id: <> From: "APIC" <> Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 22:10:34 -0500 Subject: Africa: Education for All, 1/2

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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