I recently attended an event at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on Change and Governance in Africa. One thing is clear: Africa is changing. The landscape of the continent is changing at a rapid pace, in some sectors, maybe a bit too rapidly but that is the topic of another write-up. The change is exciting. People are empowered. There is an air of optimism, of hope, of a believe that we can do something about our issues, our problems, our challenges, our goals.
I wholeheartedly agree with this, and I think that is what is most encouraging: Yes there are issues, but we are able to identify these issues and do something about resolving them. Or are we?
How are we able to deal with these issues if we are not educated? What is education? What are the policies we have in place that tackle the illiteracy problem? What has been implemented? What exactly are we doing? Do we even prioritise education as a key development issue?
There are many statistics on the United Nations and World Bank’s websites that inform on the role of education in development. The focus though is on Basic Education. Yes we have basic education (don’t get me started on the issues with these, issues on quality of education, etc.), but after that, what next? It is like a pyramid, the numbers that pass through to the next upward level taper continuously until the apex is comprised of children of the elite, and some few people that are ‘lucky’.
Surely this is a dire situation. Yes education is important; it can lead to change (the ability to know the issues and the know-how to find where if not how to resolve them). But we cannot get to that point as a continent if 60% of our population is illiterate. 60%! SIXTY PERCENT! This figure is shocking. Scary. Painful. What are we going to do about it?
May I suggest a few things: creating awareness about the importance of education. Supporting local schools. Starting workshops to educate parents about the need for education. Adult education. Educating domestic helps, their children. There is so much to write on this topic. I shall continue next time.
World Bank Education For All
United Nations Millennium Development Goal 2- Education