11.05.2014 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Countdown to 2015: How close is Africa to achieving Education for All?

Gambian girls enjoying their right to education! © UNESCO/Anne Müller

Seychelles is the only country in Africa that has fully achieved education for all, according to a new report published by UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar. It concludes that 31 African countries are likely to attain the six Education for All goals by 2020, if current progress continues. In 22 countries (half of all sub-Saharan African countries with data), the challenges are numerous.

The report is published prior to the Global Education for All meeting to take place from 12-14 May 2014 in Muscat, Oman. 

“We have come far and much progress has been achieved but Education for All in Africa remains an unfinished business,” says Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta in a video interview on the occasion of the report.

Huge challenges 

The challenges remain daunting in Africa, according to the Global Monitoring Report 2013/14

  • Less than 70 percent of primary school-aged African children complete the primary cycle,
  • 31 million children are out-of-school, of which 53% are girls,
  • 22 million youth are out of school,
  • 182 million adults are illiterate.

In addition, progress in education in Africa may well be offset by population growth, which means that to profit from the demographic dividend in Africa there is a need to further accelerate education and in particular develop skills that translate into employability and entrepreneurial preparedness.

The good news is that the advocacy to accelerate national governments' efforts in implementing Education for All plans has resulted in greater engagement at all levels, with increased participation of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, civil society organizations and technical and financial partners. 

"There is an overwhelming recognition of education as key for Africa’s growth and transformation, as outlined in the African Union's Agenda 2063, a long term vision for the Africa we would all aspire towards," concludes the report.

Need regional targets

UNESCO is providing leadership in the area of Education for All. The acceleration framework, also known as the Big Push, launched in 2013 has contributed to renewed political will in countries to meet Education for All challenges beyond 2015. At the same time, there is a recognition of the need to move from global targets to targets that are more specific to regional contexts. 

"In a situation of 20 years of Education for All and only one African country has met the target, it is a clear indication that probably there is something wrong with the target. In the post-2015, we need to make the targets more realistic to the context and realities of the various regions," Ndong-Jatta adds.

Preparing 2015 World Education Forum

Over 300 participants are gathering at the Global Education for All meeting, including 20 government ministers and vice-ministers, as well as representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academics, researchers and other stakeholders.

The meeting will review progress towards the six EFA goals and discuss remaining steps in the EFA process up to 2015, in particular with regard to the finalization of the National EFA 2015 Reviews and the debate of their outcomes at national and regional levels in preparation for the World Education Forum 2015, to be held in the Republic of Korea next May.

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