29.01.2014 - UNESCO Office in Dakar

Education for All goals are unlikely to be reached by 2015 in Africa

Learners studying in a school in Eastern Cape, South Africa, in overcrowded classrooms with a lack of desks and chairs @Eva-LottaJansson/UNESCO

The 2013/4 Education for All Global Monitoring Report reveils that despite progress, sub-Saharan African countries are unlikely to reach the Education for All goals by 2015.

The Report is launched today (29 January 2014) during a high-level event in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), as well as during national launches around the world.

Key findings of the 2013/14 EFA Global Monitoring report:

  • The pre-primary education gross enrolment ratio increased from 10% in 1999 to 18% in 2011, leaving the region lagging behind all others regions.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is far from achieving universal primary education (net enrolment ratio of 77%). No progress has been made since 2007, leaving nearly 30 million African children out of school.
  • By 2011, the net enrolment ratio at lower secondary school reached 49%, but the number of adolescents out of school in the region remained at 22 million between 1999 and 2011, due to population growth.
  • The number of illiterate African adults has increased by 37% since 1990, mainly due to population growth, reaching 182 million in 2011. By 2015, it is projected that 26% of all illiterate adults will live in sub-Saharan Africa, up from 15% in 1990.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, with teacher recruitment lagging behind growth in enrolment, pupil/teacher ratios stagnated and are now the highest in the world at the pre-primary and primary levels.

The Report provides information on progress made by country and reveals that no African country will reach all six Education for All goals. However, several African countries will reach one or several of the goals.

Failing to learn the basics

This year's Report, Teaching and learning: Achieving quality education for all, warns that without attracting and adequately training enough teachers, the learning crisis will last for several generations and hit the disadvantaged hardest.

In sub-Saharan Africa, over half of children are not learning the basics: a quarter of primary school aged children reached grade four but still did not learn the basics, and over a third did not reach grade four.

The result of so many children leaving school without learning the basics, or never entering school at all, 40% of young African people cannot read a sentence. And young people from poorer households are far less likely to be able to read.

In Burkina Faso, 72% of rich young men have basic literacy skills, compared with 54% of rich young women, but only 13% of poor men and 6% of poor women.

Getting enough teachers into classrooms

Between 2011 and 2015, sub-Saharan Africa needs to recruit about 225,000 additional teachers per year to achieve universal primary education by 2015.

394,000 additional teachers per year are then needed to reach a ratio of 32 pupils per teacher in lower secondary education. In comparison, the number of lower secondary school teachers grew by 52,250 annually in the region between 1999 and 2011.

One particular challenge is to support teachers in being able to teach early reading skills in more than one language and to use local language materials effectively.

In Mali, a study of pupils’ skills using an Early Grade Reading Assessment and teacher observation found that few teachers were able to teach their pupils how to read. This is no doubt an important reason why nearly half the pupils in Mali cannot read a word in their own language at the end of grade 2.

Developed by an independent team and published by UNESCO, the Education for All Global Monitoring Report is an authoritative reference that aims to inform, influence and sustain genuine commitment towards Education for All.




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