As the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit starts today in New York, a new report from the Global Campaign for Education – of which Oxfam is a member – looks at the state of education around the world. It makes mixed reading for countries in East Africa.
A global league table is ranked according to factors such as access to basic education, teacher to pupil ratio, and educational provision for girls. Somalia, devastated by years of conflict and the lack of a government, comes bottom of the world rankings, with illiteracy rates of over 70 percent, making it “the worst place in the world to be a school child.” 93 percent of Somali children do not even complete primary education.
Eritrea and Ethiopia are also in the bottom five countries, marking a worrying trend in the Horn of Africa. DR Congo –another country affected by war and lack of governance –has seen declining school enrolment rates, with 4.4 million primary age children out of school.
But it is not all bad news. Even in the poorest performing countries there are some positives. Ethiopia for instance has managed to halve the gap between the number of boys and girls in school. It also seems to be taking steps to address its poor performance, increasing its investment in education from 3.5 to 5.5 percent of its GNP in the past 10 years.
Getting children to school is pointless if they are not receiving a decent standard of education though. Tanzania, Kenya, and also Rwanda have made progress in training teachers –98 percent of primary school teachers in these countries now get appropriate training. Oxfam has been working closely with the government in Tanzania to help achieve this.
Travelling across the region, one of the most common problems parents raise is how to raise the fees to send their kids to school. The children want to go, the parents want to send them –but economics gets in the way. The report argues for countries to make free primary schooling a cornerstone of their education policies. Some countries, such as Kenya and Rwanda, have already done so – although in Kenya the report says the global financial crisis has so far prevented the policy being fully implemented.
The report’s authors say that the global financial crisis could cost African education budgets $4.6 billion a year – a 13 percent drop in resources for every primary school pupil.
So a mixed report card overall, with the average grade in the region a D. Somalia gets an F and it’s hard to see how education there can be improved while security remains so bad and children fear getting shelled or shot on the walk to class.
Click the link below to download the full report – “Back to School?” – and its recommendations for countries in the region:
East Africa league table:
1. Kenya – Score: 64%, Grade C
2. Rwanda – Score: 49%, Grade D
3. Sudan – Score: 46%, Grade D
4. DR Congo – Score 41%, Grade D
5. Burundi – Score 40%, Grade D
6. Tanzania – Score 40%, Grade D
7. Uganda – Score 37%, Grade D
8. Ethiopia – Score 29%, Grade E
9. Eritrea – Score 18%, Grade E
10. Somalia – 8%, Grade F