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Why Africa lags behind in global education goals, by UNESCO


A picture taken on October 12, 2017 shows the logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris./ AFP PHOTO / JACQUES DEMARTHON

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has said Nigeria and other African countries were lagging behind in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs).

UNESCO, in its latest Global Educational Monitoring (GEM) report said in sub-Saharan Africa, 41 per cent of children of primary school age do not complete basic education while 87 per cent do not reach the minimum proficiency level in reading.

The report added the situation meant that more than one in four young people in the region could not read or write proficiently.In the report obtained by The Guardian, GEM, which monitors progress of the internationally agreed SDGs for education, noted that in spite of the progress made in recent years, most countries on the continent were struggling to cater for their poorest children.

The report found that less than half of low and middle-income countries had established standards for early childhood education and just a handful had mechanisms to monitor compliance.

“As a result, many children end up in overcrowded, poorly resourced low-fee private schools without qualified teachers and with inadequate infrastructure.”

“Around the world today, 264 million children do not go school and almost two in ten children do not complete primary school. Sub-Saharan Africa has 32.6 million children out of school in the region, 55 per cent of which are girls. This is the highest rate in the world,” the report stated.

Director of the GEM report, Manos Antoninis, while providing insights into the findings and recommendations in an interview with The Guardian, said it was government’s responsibility to provide universal quality education in the region and stressed that accountability was indispensable in achieving the goal.

Antoninis explained that the annual report with the theme: Accountability In Education: Meeting Our Commitments, examined the different ways people and institutions could be held accountable for reaching the SDGs 4, including regulations, testing, monitoring, audits, media scrutiny and grassroots movements.
“Lack of accountability opens the door to corruption. In the European Union (EU) between 2009-2014, 38 per cent of education and training tenders only had one bidder, compared to 16 per cent of tenders in the construction sector, indicating that the risk of corruption is higher in education than in the building industry.”

He further explained that in countries with weak accreditation processes, thousands of students graduate with unrecognised degrees, adding that in Kenya and Uganda, private schools were operating without qualified teachers and with inadequate infrastructure, before regulations were put in place and the courts shut them down.

According to the report, in the first half of 2016, allegations of ghost teachers and those collecting more than their official salaries were made in 8,000 cases in four of the 37 states, while in eight other states, allegations were leveled against more than 70,000 ghost workers in local governments, which are responsible for education at the primary level.

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