A year ago, UNESCO reported that Africa needed a million new teachers in order to meet the goal of achieving universal primary education (MDG2). This figure amounted to increasing the teaching workforce in Africa by a third in order to provide every child with access to primary schooling.
The results for MDG2 thus far have been reported positively, with a 90% increase in primary school enrolments. But what does this mean for new learners? Are there new teachers? Are there new school buildings? Have African schools found a way of rapidly increasing in size without compromising on the quality of education? In most cases the answer is “no.”
The average teacher to pupil ratio in African schools remains as high as 1: 50. This challenging learning environment is compounded by the consequences of political instability and civil unrest, poor nutrition, lack of sanitation facilities and the knock on effect this has on the spread of disease. The frustrations experienced by INGOs, NGOs and other actors working to support access to quality education are but a fraction of what children living in these countries deal with on a day to day basis.
The call is to African leaders, heads of state and civil society to recall their childhood journeys and to double their efforts to ensure that today’s youth gain access to quality education. Education is recognised as a human right by the United Nations and the African Union. It is critical to the survival of Africa’s future that legislative theory be put into action by those implementing education policies today.