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Could money raised by GPE improve educational equality in Africa?

This year’s efforts to raise money at the GES for educational services across the world were impressive. Could new funding improve equality for Africa’s educational facilities?

The 2021 Global Education Summit, co-hosted by the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in London on 28th – 29th July, raised a record $4 billion from donors for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

GPE’s target was to raise at least $5 billion over the next five years (2021-2025) in transforming education for millions of the world’s most vulnerable school going children.

If it reaches full funding, Global Partnership for Education would help up to 175 million children and place approximately 88 million more girls and boys in school by 2025.


Grappling with huge disparities in education

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion despite efforts to have basic education accessible to all children.

According to UNESCO, over one-fifth of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of 12 and 14.

Most of Africa’s education and training programs suffer from low-quality teaching and learning, as well as inequalities and exclusion at all levels. Even with a substantial increase in the number of children with access to basic education, a large number still remain out of school.

Despite the successes in primary school enrolment, inequalities and inefficiencies remain in this critical sector.

According to the African Union, subsectors such as preprimary, technical, vocational, and informal education are underdeveloped, making it difficult for young individuals to acquire proper schooling.

In addition, more girls than boys drop out of school before completing secondary or tertiary education, evidence to suggest that sexist biases still remain within the system.


Global Education Summit, Africa’s education focus

This year’s summit happened as governments continue to face huge challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic-related disruptions.

Progress in educating more children around the world abruptly ended in 2020 when schools closed in most countries. There was no good response plan when closures happened, leading to serious gaps in governments delivery of remote learning.

The Global Partnership for Education pledges to fulfill the right to free, quality, inclusive education for all, and the money raised during the summit is intended to go toward this cause.

But where will this money go across Africa? One example worth mentioning is Rwanda, where the education ministry’s budget is not enough to address existing challenges related to learning losses.

Schools have been closed for at least 10 months, affecting at least 3.5 million students, in an effort to contain the pandemic.

The GPE aims to encourage countries to maintain spending on education above 20% of overall national expenditure or increase spending progressively towards this benchmark in the coming five years.


Africa to rise up in quality education

During President Kenyatta’s address at the summit, he prioritized the advancement of digital learning as means of curbing the inequalities observed in education access during the pandemic – mostly in Africa where there is a lag.

Investing in digital learning will ensure students keep learning through future school closures, whether due to pandemics or to natural and climate disasters.

Currently, children account for almost half of Africa’s population. According to the AU, by 2055, there will be one billion children on the continent.

If properly skilled, this vast human resource could help lift hundreds of millions of Africans out of poverty, a dividend that would benefit both the continent and the world.

The summit advocated for governments to ensure schools are equipped to provide a safe learning environment for both teachers and students and fund catch-up programs to make up for lost learning.

Where schools are closed, adequate resources should be made available for remote learning and to both maintain and expand student support programs such as school feeding.

Girls being the most affected, Africa is at task by the GPE to allocate 20% of its budget to educating girls who aren’t in traditional schooling.

Child marriages have violated female rights to health, education, and opportunity for a long time. Being the leading factor of schoolgirl dropouts, increasing access to education and making sure that school is a safe place will change the lives of many young women.

 

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