Originally published on July 9, 2018 – by The Bridge Leadership Foundation
Education across Africa has always been faulted as not far reaching and not enough to cater for the educational need of the continent’s population. The literacy rate of Africa, with the exception of a few countries, is disturbing and needs a lot of efforts in addressing. According to UNESCO, Africa is the only continent where more than half of the parents cannot help their children with their homework because of illiteracy.
This is quite alarming because education is needed in acquiring basic skills needed to get through challenges we go through in life, be you a kid, teenager or adult. With the absence of education, little wonder the epileptic growth of most African countries in the areas of economic growth and development.
The core issues of African education are the continent’s inability to adapt its curricular, research and teaching methods to a changing continent and world. In so many African educational institutions, outdated books, theories, researches, teaching methods etc. are still in use widely and these tell on the grade of graduates they produce. Graduates who think old, who aren’t well versed with new theories and thoughts, thus a bit backward in a fast changing world as compared to the west. This is why when students graduate; their skills do not fit what the society demands of them.
Another issue with education is accessibility and quality. It is worthy to note that availability does not determine quality. In so many African countries, the availability of schools is limited and cannot accommodate the fast growing population. The available ones are mostly substandard when compared to their counterparts in the west. You go to some African schools and you find students sitting on the floor and windows in classes and the usage of slate, bad chalkboards and the likes for taking notes and teaching respectively. This is quite sad.
There is the need to build more schools to cater for the need of the chronic rise in population. It is the case of unavailability of schools that makes children sit back at home; or have to walk or take buses to long distances to get to school; or overcrowding in classrooms of the available schools. Little is assimilated when a class is crowded and rowdy. And in the case of higher education, due to unavailability of so many universities in some countries, rigorous benchmarks are set to reduce candidates for admission, leaving thousands back and unable to gain admission till the following year. This is quite depressing because this causes emotional trauma for so many people, people giving up on their dreams after so many trials and moving into trade and the likes.
Also the acute shortage of trained teachers for basic education is quite frustrating good education in Africa. This problem is quite vivid in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNESCO, sub-Saharan Africa would need a number of 2.2 million new teaching positions by 2030, while filling about 3.9 vacant positions due to attrition. The continuous employment of untrained teachers for basic education is of course not advisable as the continent has realized its shortcomings over the years of indulging in such.
This reality is acknowledged by so many governments in Africa and their efforts towards resuscitating the standards of education in their various countries cannot be belittled. But it is also worthy to note that there is still need for more efforts geared in addressing this concern.
The governments of Africa should put more efforts in reforming and revitalizing higher education to better address issues of access, relevance and quality. This should be done for all levels of education.
The government more efforts in capacity building in training and research for higher education institutions in order to strengthen the knowledge society. Also, promoting the use of ICT as a tool to broaden access to information and knowledge and open new opportunities for education should be an approach that should be utilized and maximized.
Also, there is the need for the employment of quality teachers. Trained teachers, and not people who just dabble into the line of teaching because of unemployment, should be employed as teachers and lecturers of schools and tertiary institutions respectively.
Africa is a continent endowed with potentials, talents, creativity and enthusiasm. Access to education and resources to make these endowments thrive would make the continent experience an intense turnaround for good and greatness.