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Learning crisis tops list of education emergencies across Africa – experts

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The emerging learning crisis has replaced the education exclusion crises affecting developing nations of Africa and this is a critical impediment to sustainable growth.

Learning crisis in Africa

This is according to economic policy analysts who participated in the just concluded two-day African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) 25th Senior Policy Seminar (SPS), held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The analysts cited this while making a presentation of their findings following a collaborative research project on human capital and growth in Africa.

In his paper titled: Education in Africa: Career Progressions, Gaps in Learning Outcomes, and Responding to the Learning Crisis, the Chairperson, of the University of Delaware Department of Economics, Prof Adrienne Lucas described the learning crisis and access to quality learning as acute.

According to Lucas, in the mid-1990s, sub-Saharan Africa had a crisis of low enrolment rates, with only 54 per cent of primary school-aged students in school in the lower- and middle-income countries of sub-Saharan Africa now replaced by a crisis of learning quality.

“As barriers to schooling have fallen, the primary school net enrollment rate is now over 80 per cent, yet, in many cases, schools are continuing to fail the children they are supposed to be serving by not imparting them with adequate knowledge to be successful,” Lucas said.

learning crisis in Africa
Photo credit: The Nation

The professor said about three-quarters of grade three students in some African countries cannot read a simple sentence. “This learning crisis of students being in school but not learning is acute. The scale of this problem was recognised and codified in Goal number 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Lucas said.

During his presentation, University of Nairobi Professor of Economics, Germano Mwabu, noted that Foreign Direct investments (FDI) can improve educational achievement in a nation through options such as on-the-job training and tax revenues that the can be used by the government to construct schools and fund scholarships and research

“Multinational firms provide incentives for skill acquisition because workers know they must be highly skilled to work for foreign-owned enterprises, which pay higher wages than local firms,” Mwabu said.

However, the education stimulus from FDI depends on the host country’s capacity to absorb the investment.
The analysts also emphasized that school and human capital development are essential to individuals’ livelihoods and country-wide economic growth and development.

During his remarks, Kenya’s Ministry of Information, Communication and Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary, Eliud Owalo challenged delegates at the seminar to move out of their comfort zones by embracing emerging trends in the digital space to advance economic policy.

He also encouraged African governments to work together as a vital component to accelerate Africa’s growth.

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