Provision of basic education and life-long learning to African children and youth is facing new headwinds linked to COVID-19, inadequate financing and shortage of tutors, says a report launched by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Monday.
The sub-Saharan African region has fallen short of commitment to achieve universal school enrollment and lags behind other regions in attainment of universal education targets, said the report, “National SDG4 benchmarks: fulfilling our commitment,” which was launched on the World Education Day.
SDG4 stands for Sustainable Development Goal 4, one of 17 goals set under the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
The UNESCO report said that other parts of the world, except sub-Saharan Africa, are on course to meeting their universal primary education goal thanks to supportive policies, investments in teacher training and modern learning facilities.
“Challenges will remain in sub-Saharan Africa, where 8 percent of primary school-age children are still predicted to be out of school in 2030, down from 19 percent currently,” the report said.
It said that sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa and western Asia could miss the universal early childhood education target, given the shortage of trained teachers.
The UNESCO report said over a quarter of preschool teachers in sub-Saharan Africa will remain untrained by 2030, even as other regions achieve over 90 percent target in terms of population of trained pre-primary level tutors.
On a positive note, the report said the sub-Saharan African region is expected to reduce the rate of out-of-school upper secondary age youth from 47 percent to 31 percent by 2030, as governments allocate more funding toward post-primary education.
It said the continent should pay attention to key indicators like early childhood education attendance, out-of-school rates, completion rates, gender parity in school enrollment, proficiency in mathematics and reading, financing and teacher training as a prerequisite to achieve education-for-all goals.