International South Africa
"Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting."
- Aldous Huxley
The 21st century has shown that without education, a man is incomplete as education is the bedrock of every society. Whether formal or informal education, the society thrives on learning and dissemination of information. Education is widely accepted as a leading instrument for fostering economic growth and development in a globalised world. For Africa, where growth is essential, and if the continent is to climb out of poverty, education is particularly important.
In 2004, it was estimated that 38 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa had never been to school. As a result they have been deprived of experiences integral to full physical, social and emotional development (http://www.gaps.org.au/activities/36-education/71-education_2state). According to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation facts and figures on African Youth (2012), Africa is the only continent with a significantly growing youth population. In less than three generations, 41% of the world’s youth will be African. By 2035, Africa’s labour force will be larger than China’s. On the continent, too many African young people are neither employed, nor studying, nor looking for a job. The report states that literacy is growing but Africa still lags behind the rest of the world. Current African educational levels are lower than China’s and India’s and Only 2/3 of students progress from primary to secondary education in Africa while the Youth unemployment increases with education levels in Africa
In Nigeria, Nearly 9 million primary school-age children are out of school in Nigeria (ibid.). The class strength in a typical public primary and secondary institution is over 60 with inadequate infrastructure to meet the needs of the students. In addition, stiffing government policies affect the growth of education. In Benin, Tanzania, Cameroon, and Madagascar, governments supervise many aspects of universities’ operations. In Benin and Tanzania, the government appoints senior university managers. In Cameroon, the Minister of Education retains supervisory authority over universities. The Ministry of Education in Madagascar appoints all faculty members, sets salaries, and determines working conditions, which results in close links between faculty members and the political system.
Furthermore, the poor quality of education in most African country is generating poverty and inequality and undermining the opportunity we have to build as a continent. There is a wide gap between the rich who can afford quality education at a high cost to the poor children who have to struggle to attend and gain from the public educational institutions that are of questionable standard. Education in most developing African nations still falls short of standard quality compared to that of developed nations. Tertiary educations in most African nations are for those who can afford them. Eventually if the student is able to graduate, s/he is faced with the problem of getting a job in an already congested labour market. Recently in Nigeria, over 200,000 youth completed the mandatory Nation Youth Service and are thrown into the labour market where there certificate holds no value.
To improve education in Africa, I believe that policy makers should embark on educational paradigm shift that will equip the youth with entrepreneurial skills and critical thinking to be self-reliant. More so, education policies that will favour the general mass should be created and implemented, and ensure that every child/youth has opportunity to get a formal education. Needed and suitable Infrastructures should be put in place and made available to students.
As various African leaders, intellectuals and youth gather at the 2012 Mo Ibrahim Forum in Dakar to discuss on African Youth - fulfilling the potential, I hope that our policy makers will take decisions that will be of great benefit to the youth and Africa as a nation.
In Conclusion, “The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live”. ~Flora Whittemore
Post by Bukoye Oluwafunso, 23, from Nigeria
Youth Communicator at the Mo Ibrahim Forum