Education for All in Africa

A huge and growing need of quality education for all ©UNESCO/Anne Müller

The Education for All (EFA) movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for everyone: children, youth and adults.

At the World Education Forum held in Dakar in 2000, 164 governments, including 44 African governments, identified six goals which they pledged to achieve by 2015.

UNESCO’s role in Africa

Despite significant progress in education in most African countries, at least 31 of 44 African countries will not achieve the goals of Education for All by 2015, according to country profiles developed by UNESCO's Dakar Office in 2012.

As the Director of UNESCO’s Regional Office in Dakar, Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, says, "We need to act now. Education for All is still an unfinished agenda.”

A meeting held in October 2012 identified the specific priorities and concerns in education in Africa. They were subsequently presented at the EFA global coordination meeting in November 2012 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

At this meeting, Education Ministers committed to a last ‘Big Push’ to accelerate efforts to reach the goals by 2015 through a five step EFA acceleration initiative.

In March 2013, the first group of African countries met in Dakar to develop national plans for the acceleration process.

The Regional Office in Dakar partners with the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, the United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, and representatives of civil society and the private sector to implement the EFA acceleration initiative across the continent.

Some of the greatest continuing challenges identified to achieving EFA goals in Africa are:

  • low rate of girls to boys in school
  • severe lack of youth skills necessary for employment,
  • high drop-out rates (42% of African school children leave school early)

The Post 2015 agenda

UNESCO envisages four basic approaches to the post-2015 agenda:

  1. Concern for peace and sustainable development should be at the centre of our efforts to promote inclusive and equitable development beyond 2015. Education for global citizenship is already included in many countries’ curricula – but we need to give more thought to how to make this into a measurable goal.
  2. Any post-2015 development framework must be of universal relevance. It must mobilize all countries, regardless of their specific development status, around a common framework of goals aimed at inclusive and sustainable development.
  3. We need to strengthen the link between education and other development sectors. This is a two-way relationship: Education is an enabler for reaching all the Millennium Development Goals, but it is also dependent on progress in other policy areas. We must do more to ensure that measures taken in one policy area support those in others more coherently and effectively.
  4. We need to define a framework for learning in the 21st century that promotes the development of inclusive lifelong learning systems

UNESCO is supporting the development of national assessments of progress towards EFA since 2000. Complementing the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, these nationally-led assessments will steer countries’ debates on their future education agendas.

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