Posted by: APO | 30 November 2007

EFA GLOBAL MONITORING REPORT 2008 / Regional overview: Sub-Saharan Africa



Education for All by 2015: Will we make it?


Regional overview: Sub-Saharan Africa


Sub-Saharan Africa1 has experienced sustained annual economic growth, with a 1.9% annual GDP per capita growth rate between 2000 and 2005, and several countries have made significant progress in creating more transparent and accountable forms of government.2 However, income disparities across and within countries remain, and poverty is more widespread overall than in other regions.. In 2004, 41% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lived in extreme poverty, with less than US$1 per day, and inequality remained higher than in other developing regions.3 The region accounts for 63% of the global HIV-infected population and 89% of malaria-related deaths. Women increasingly carry the burden of HIV and AIDS either through infection or as primary carers.4 Sub-Saharan Africa continues to rely heavily on foreign aid; the region is the largest recipient of total official development assistance (ODA), which nonetheless remains insufficient.

In reviewing progress since 2000, this regional overview summarizes findings in response to key questions addressed by the 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report: What are the main EFA achievements and what challenges remain at this point, midway to the target date of 2015? Which countries are advancing fastest? Which are facing difficulties? Which policy initiatives are promoting access to education and improving its quality, especially for the most disadvantaged groups and areas? Has the international community provided adequate support? The 2008 Report shows that, despite progress towards some goals, sub-Saharan Africa – along with the Arab States and South and West Asia – is still lagging.

EFA: progress and achievements

While there has been progress towards EFA since 2000 in the sub-Saharan Africa region, it has been uneven. The pace of progress towards universal primary education (UPE) in the region has been faster than during the 1990s, with the average primary net enrolment ratio (NER) increasing from 57% to 70% between 1999 and 2005. However, some countries have lagged behind and some goals – such as early childhood care and education (ECCE), the learning needs of young people and adults, adult literacy and the quality of education – have received insufficient attention. Most countries failed to eliminate gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005. The region is still home to 33 million children not enrolled in school. Imbalances in the way many education systems are developing have both created and reinforced disparities. These must be redressed if children, youth and adults are to benefit equally from the opportunities education provides.

Early childhood care and education

1 This is according to the EFA classification. See the table for countries in the region.

2 Particularly Botswana, Ghana, Mozambique, Senegal and the United Republic of Tanzania.

3 In 2004, the poorest 20% accounted for only 3.4% of national consumption.

4 The feminization of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is a growing concern. The HIV infection rate of young women was four times that of young men in 2005.


5 Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Namibia, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia.


• Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest regional mortality rate for children under age 5 in 2005 (163 per 1,000 births), and several countries in the region (e.g. Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe) have seen the rate increase recently due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. While most of these deaths could have been prevented through improved basic health services and child nutrition programmes, only nineteen countries5 out of forty in the region with data indicated they had such programmes targeting children under 3.


• The number of children enrolled in pre-primary schools increased by 61% between 1999 and 2005, with the average gross enrolment ratio (GER) rising from 10% to 14%.


• Some countries with low or moderate levels of participation, including Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa, have substantially increased their enrolment ratios.


• Despite overall advances, pre-primary education is still neglected in many countries, with a dozen having pre-primary GERs of less than 5%. The ratio ranges from below 2% in Burundi, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Niger and Uganda to around 100% in Mauritius and Seychelles.


• Disparities between the sexes are generally much smaller at pre-primary than at other levels, with the average gender parity index (GPI) in GER at 0.97 in 2005. However, high gender disparities in enrolment against girls prevail in Equatorial Guinea (GPI 0.83) and Chad (GPI 0.48) and against boys (GPI above 1.10) in Namibia and Senegal.


• Children enrolled at the pre-primary level are more likely to come from more affluent households rather than from the poorest, and yet children from disadvantaged groups stand to gain the most from early childhood programmes.


• Improving the quality of ECCE programmes requires the recruitment of more and better trained teachers. Pre-primary pupil/teacher ratios (PTRs) are high in sub-Saharan Africa – above 31:1 on average in 2005 – and have increased in several countries since 1999. Either the supply of teachers grew, but not enough to compensate for a large increase in enrolments, as in Burundi, the Congo and Senegal; or it remained stable while enrolment increased, as in Benin.


• The shortage of teachers observed in many countries is compounded by a low percentage of trained teachers. The percentage of pre-primary teachers who are trained ranged in 2005 from less than 25% in Cape Verde, Ghana and the United Republic of Tanzania to above 90% in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Mauritius and Senegal. The shortage of trained teachers worsened between 1999 and 2005 in some countries; in Ghana, for instance, a policy of providing free kindergarten in public pre-primary schools was accompanied by a rise in the ratio of pupils to trained teachers to 155:1, from an already high 103:1.



6 Several of these countries significantly increased enrolment during the period, which may reflect the impact of policy measures such as the abolition of school fees in the early 2000s to facilitate enrolment of the most disadvantaged, as in Benin, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.

7 The countries in the latter group are Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.

Figure 1: Changes in GERs in pre-primary education between 1999 and 2005

020406080100120ChadD. R. CongoNigerUgandaC. A. R.BurundiBurkina FasoEthiopiaTogoMaliCôte d’IvoireComorosBeninCongoGuineaSenegalMadagascarEritreaNigeriaSwazilandGambiaCameroonNamibiaU. R. TanzaniaS. Tome/PrincipeLesothoSouth AfricaEquat. GuineaZimbabweKenyaCape VerdeGhanaMauritiusSeychellesGER19992005

Universal primary education


• Between 1999 and 2005, the number of new entrants in primary education in sub-Saharan Africa rose by 40%. However, demographic pressure will remain a challenge throughout the next decade, when the primary school age population is projected to grow by 22%.


• The significant increase in primary enrolment (by 29 million, or 36%) between 1999 and 2005 translated into a rise of the average primary NER for the region from 57% to 70%. Benin, Ethiopia, Guinea, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia saw their primary NERs increase by more than twenty percentage points between 1999 and 2005.6


• Despite overall positive trends, the situation remains critical in the region: more than 60% of the countries have primary NERs below 80% and more than one-third below 70%.7


• With nearly 33 million children of primary school age still not enrolled in school, the region as a whole was home to 45% of the world’s out-of-school children in 2005, of whom 54% were girls. Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, the Niger and Nigeria have more than 1 million out-of-school children each. More than half of the children out of school in the region (59%) have never been in school and may never enrol without additional incentives.




• Progress in enrolment since the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar has not been uniform within countries: primary NER increases led to reduced geographic disparities in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mozambique, the Niger and the United Republic of Tanzania, but greater disparities in Benin, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Guinea, Kenya and Zambia.


• Households in rural or remote communities tend to have less access to primary education: for every 100 urban children enrolled, only 33 rural children are enrolled in Burkina Faso, 43 in Ethiopia and 54 in Chad. Yet, the urban ‘advantage’ does not work for all children, particularly those growing up in slums. NERs in the United Republic of Tanzania increased in both rural areas and non-slum urban areas, but decreased in slum areas. Similar developments have been reported in Zambia and Zimbabwe.


• Poverty significantly reduces the likelihood of school participation: a strong negative correlation (-0.4 or above) exists between household poverty and the primary school attendance rate in both rural and urban regions in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.


• The chances of a disabled child’s not being in school are two to three times greater than for a child who is not disabled in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


• While access to and participation in primary schooling have increased since 1999, progression through school and completion of it remain a major concern. Primary repetition rates are high, with the median level of repeaters at 15%. In Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo – i.e. three out of ten countries – 20% or more of primary pupils are repeaters. The repetition rate is highest in grade 1: above 20% in Chad, Eritrea, Lesotho, Malawi, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo, and above 30% in Burundi, Comoros and Gabon.


• School retention remains a challenge: the median survival rate to the last grade of primary education (63%) was lower in sub-Saharan Africa than in the other regions. The rate was particularly low in Benin, Chad, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda and Uganda, where fewer than half of all pupils reach the last grade. Survival rates to the last grade of primary education improved between 1999 and 2004 in most countries for which data are available, progress being particularly significant in Mali, Mozambique and South Africa. However, the situation appears to have deteriorated in Cameroon, Chad, Eritrea and Madagascar. In most of the latter group, the deterioration is associated with improvement in NERs. Chad, Eritrea and Madagascar, for example, have found it difficult to expand enrolment and still retain pupils until the end of primary school. Countries that have successfully increased both enrolment ratios and survival rates include Ethiopia, Mali and Mozambique.


• Not all pupils who reach the last grade complete primary school. The most pronounced gaps between cohort completion rates and survival rate to last grade are found in Burundi, the Niger and Senegal.



8 Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, the Niger and Zimbabwe.

Figure 2: Changes in NER in primary education between 1999 and 2005

020406080100NigerCongoBurkina FasoEritreaMaliCôte d’IvoireBurundiChadGuineaNigeriaEthiopiaSenegalGhanaNamibiaRwandaGambiaMozambiqueTogoBeninKenyaSwazilandEquat. GuineaZimbabweBotswanaLesothoSouth AfricaZambiaCape VerdeMadagascarMalawiMauritiusS. Tome/PrincipeU. R. TanzaniaSeychellesNER19992005

Post-primary education


• As increasing numbers of students finish primary education, demand for secondary education grows. Several governments across regions now view the universalization of primary and lower secondary education as an important policy objective. In sub-Saharan Africa, only twelve countries8 do not include lower secondary education in basic education.


• In 2005, 33 million students were enrolled in secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa, an increase of 55% since 1999. The average GER at this level rose from 24% to 32% during the period. Increases were substantial in Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique and Uganda, which recorded average annual increases of about 10% or above in secondary GER.


• Participation levels in secondary education remained low (GER below 20%) in 2005 in many countries, including Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Mozambique, the Niger, Rwanda and Uganda, while Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa had ratios of about 90% or above.


• The overall GER in secondary education masks disparities between its two levels, with participation often much higher in lower secondary (38% in 2005) than in upper secondary (24%).




• The relative share of technical and vocational education and training in secondary-level enrolment is low in sub-Saharan Africa, only 6% in 2005.


• Tertiary education is relevant to the EFA goals as a component of the gender equality goal and for teacher training. In sub-Saharan Africa, 3.5 million students were enrolled in tertiary institutions in 2005, an increase of 66% since 1999. However, only a relatively small share of the relevant age group has access to this level, with an average GER of 5% in 2005. The level of participation ranged from less than 1% in Angola, Mali and the Niger to 10% or above in Mauritius, Nigeria and South Africa.


Learning needs of young people and adults


• Governments have mainly responded to the learning needs of young people and adults by expanding formal secondary and tertiary education. However, a great variety of structured learning activities for youth and adults takes place outside formal education systems, often targeting school dropouts and disadvantaged groups. The extent to which this supply corresponds to demand, though, is largely unknown. Improved monitoring of the supply and demand for non-formal education is urgently needed.


• A number of countries have made significant efforts in scaling up non-formal education programmes for youths and adults. However, these programmes are highly diverse, often differ in terms of objectives, target groups, content and pedagogy, and tend to be overseen by multiple ministries and/or other government bodies.


• Large-scale literacy programmes, often encompassing life skills (health, civic rights) and livelihoods (income generation, farming), are common in Ethiopia and Senegal, where they benefit from substantial external support. National programmes focusing on skills development in the informal economy have been set up in Ghana and South Africa. Programmes focusing on rural development are found in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, run in cooperation with agriculture ministries.


• While national data on enrolment in non-formal education are limited, information can be obtained from household surveys. Results show that the proportions of youth and adults having obtained their highest educational attainment level though a ‘non-standard curriculum’ exceed 1% in Burundi, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, the Niger and Senegal. The proportions rise to 20% among youth and 31% among adults in Burundi.


• Among both youth and adults, more men than women reached their highest level of educational attainment in non-formal education, with particularly large disparities in Chad (eight percentage points) and the Niger (twelve).


• Reaching the highest educational attainment in non-standard curricula is more widespread in rural than urban areas in Burundi, Chad, the Gambia, the Niger and Senegal.


Adult literacy


• Literacy is a fundamental human right, a springboard not only for achieving EFA, but also for reducing poverty and broadening participation in society. Yet, it remains a major challenge in sub-Saharan Africa, where 150 million adults – 62% of them women – could not read and write, according to censuses and surveys undertaken between 1995 and 2004. The number of adult illiterates is on the rise due to continuing population growth, despite an increase in the average adult literacy rate from 54% in 1985–1994 to 59% in more recent years.



9 The countries are Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, the Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.


• Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for about one in five of the world’s 774 million illiterates in 1995–2004.


• The average adult literacy rate in the region (59%) is well below the world average of 82%, and very low rates (below 50%) still characterize several countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, the Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.


• Adult literacy rates went up in most countries, with increases of more than fifteen percentage points in Burundi, Cape Verde and Malawi between 1985–1994 and 1995–2004.


• Gender disparities in adult literacy are particularly marked (GPI 0.73), even though the situation has improved since 1985–1994. In fifteen countries the literacy rates for females are less than two-thirds of those for males.9 Some cases of gender disparities in adult literacy favouring women were observed in Lesotho (GPI 1.23), a trend also found among younger cohorts in Botswana (the GPI of the youth literacy rate was 1.04) and Liberia (1.06).


• Besides gender, key correlates of illiteracy include poverty and place of residence. Overall, illiteracy rates are highest in the countries with the greatest poverty. The link between poverty and illiteracy is also observed at household level, with the literacy rates of the poorest households substantially lower than those of the wealthiest.


• There is a need to improve literate environments. Written materials (newspapers, books, posters), broadcast media (radio, television) and information and communications technology (ICT: fixed and mobile phones, computers, Internet access) need to be developed in order to encourage literacy acquisition, a reading culture, improved literacy retention and access to information.


Gender parity and equality


• Gender disparities have been reduced in the region, particularly in primary education, but not eliminated. Only Mauritius and Seychelles had achieved gender parity in their GERs for both primary and secondary education by 2005.


• Gender disparities remain widespread in sub-Saharan Africa where they often favour boys, and are greater at higher levels: 35% of the countries with data available in 2005 had achieved gender parity in primary education, compared with 6% in secondary and 3% in tertiary.


• Gender disparities in primary education begin with disparities in enrolment in the first grade. The average GPI of the gross intake rate in primary education was below 0.92 in 2005, while the global average was 0.94. However, gender disparities in access to education have improved since 1999. Progress was noteworthy in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea and the Niger. Despite this positive trend, the number of girls starting school across the region is still less than 80% that of boys.


• Sub-Saharan Africa registered an increase in the primary GER’s GPI, from 0.86 in 1999 to 0.89 in 2005. Progress towards the reduction of gender disparities in primary education was particularly significant in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, the Gambia and Guinea. Important disparities affecting girls still prevail, however, in the Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Niger.



10 The countries concerned are Benin, Chad, the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Guinea, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Togo, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

11 Female teachers in Guinea, for example, provided girls with rare role models of women who had completed school, yet their presence did not guarantee greater class participation by girls.


• Within countries, gender disparities tend to be wider among poorer people than the more affluent, in rural than in urban areas and, within the latter, in slums than in non-slum areas.


• Worldwide, once girls have access to school, they tend to do better than boys, but the few countries where girls repeat more than boys are mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.10


• The region as a whole moved further away from gender parity in secondary education between 1999 and 2005 as low secondary enrolment was coupled with the world’s lowest levels of girls’ participation – the GPI in secondary GER was 0.83 in 2005.


• Nevertheless, some countries still far from the gender parity goal showed an improvement in gender parity in secondary education, including Benin, Chad, the Gambia, Guinea, Togo and Uganda, with increases in GPIs above 20% between 1999 and 2005.


• While many more women than men worldwide were enrolled in higher education institutions in 2005 (the global GPI was 1.05), in sub-Saharan Africa the average GPI in tertiary education worsened between 1999 and 2005 from 0.68 to 0.62. Gender disparities favouring men increased substantially over the period in the Congo, the Gambia, Lesotho and Nigeria. In contrast, women’s participation in tertiary education improved significantly in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania.


• In most countries with data, women account for less than one-third of the students in scientific subjects at tertiary level but over two-thirds in the humanities, social sciences and health-related fields.


• Narrowing the gender gap in education does not automatically translate into equality between women and men. Salary gaps and differential access to particular occupations and political representation are evidence of enduring gender inequality.


• The share of women in teaching staff varies by level of education, with female teachers overrepresented in the region in pre-primary education (70%) compared with primary (45%), secondary (29%) and tertiary (28%). While the availability of female teachers plays a significant role in ensuring that all girls have access to and participate in school, that alone does not guarantee equality in school.11


• Many teachers claim they treat boys and girls equally, but in practice their attitudes often reflect subtle biases: studies of rural pupils in Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda found that teachers have low expectations of female students.


• Curricula and textbooks continue to be gender-biased: a study of mathematic textbooks in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo found the proportion of female characters in written material to be below 30%.


• The physical environment of school is equally important: many girls in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of primary school because of poor water and sanitation facilities.


• While globally the academic performance of boys and girls is moving towards convergence, in the region challenges regarding gender differences in learning outcomes remain. These vary by country, grade and subject. Seychelles faces the greatest challenges among the southern and eastern African countries that participated in SACMEQ II, with gender differences favouring girls in all school subjects. in language subjects, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mali, Seychelles and South Africa are among others the countries with the largest gender differences in learning outcomes,, often favouring girls,; in mathematics, Burkina Faso, Chad, Kenya, Mali, the Niger, Senegal, Seychelles and the United Republic of Tanzania are amongst others with the largest gender differences, often favouring boys, .



Figure 3: Changes in GPI of GERs in primary education between 1999 and 2005 A. R.ChadNigerD. R. CongoCôte d’IvoireMaliBeninBurkina FasoEritreaGuineaMozambiqueTogoCameroonNigeriaBurundiComorosEthiopiaCongoSwazilandZambiaCape VerdeEquat. GuineaMadagascarKenyaSouth AfricaSenegalU. R. TanzaniaS. Tome/PrincipeZimbabweBotswanaGhanaGabonUgandaLesothoMauritiusNamibiaSeychellesRwandaMalawiGambiaGPI of GERsgender parity19992005


Figure 4: Changes in GPI of GERs in secondary education between 1999 and 2005 R. CongoMaliEthiopiaBurkina FasoSenegalCameroonMalawiGambiaNigeriaRwandaKenyaMauritiusBotswanaSouth AfricaNamibiaGPI of GERsgender parity19992005

Quality of education

Monitoring learning outcomes


• Since 2000, countries have increasingly conducted national learning assessments; in sub-Saharan Africa, the percentage of countries that carried out at least one national assessment between 2000 and 2006 was 33%, compared with 24% between 1995 and 1999. Their number includes countries that have also participated in SACMEQ assessments (e.g. Kenya, Malawi) and PASEC assessments (e.g. Chad, Mali). The national assessments focus more on grades 4 to 6 than on grades 1 to 3 or 7 to 9, and are predominantly curriculum-based and subject-oriented, in contrast to international assessments, which focus on cross-curricular knowledge, skills or competencies.


Learning achievements


• Results from regional assessments indicate poor learning outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa. This is confirmed by national assessments. For instance, since 1999, Uganda has carried out five assessments to determine overall achievement levels in grades 3 and 6 in English literacy and in numeracy. Fewer than half the pupils reached defined competency levels in English literacy, although achievement levels have improved over time. Achievement levels in numeracy have fluctuated or declined.




• An upward trend in average learning achievements based on national assessments is observed in Ethiopia, Senegal and South Africa. Overall, rural children achieve lower levels in language and mathematics than urban children. This is particularly so in Uganda.


Instructional time


• Worldwide, countries officially require an average of 700 annual hours of instruction in grades 1 and 2 and nearly 750 hours in grade 3. By grade 6 the average is 810 hours. Official requirements in the region are close to the global medians but the actual number of instructional hours children receive is often less than required. The SACMEQ and PASEC surveys report that many African schools cannot conform to the official school year due to high teacher turnover and late teacher postings.


• Schools often start the school year a month late, end it a month early and have high student absenteeism, which results in as many as 200 to 300 fewer hours of instructional time than the official calendar requires. Significant loss of instructional time and inefficient use of classroom time are indications of poor education quality, with detrimental effects on learning outcomes.


School and learning environment


• In many countries, the availability of textbooks and other reading materials is severely limited. The SACMEQ survey found that over half the grade 6 pupils in Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia reported that their classrooms did not have a single book. In these and other countries, between 25% and 40% of teachers reported that they did not possess a book or guide in the subjects they taught.


• In the countries surveyed by SACMEQ, 47% of school buildings were reported to need major repairs or complete rebuilding; only 13% were listed as being in ‘good’ condition. The percentage of school buildings needing at least some major repair was highest in Uganda (78%) and Lesotho (67%) and lowest in Mauritius (18%) and Seychelles (38%).


• Some countries and territories still have overcrowded classrooms, including Chad, Guinea, Malawi and Zanzibar (United Republic of Tanzania). Since class sizes tend to be larger in lower grades, fewer children sit comfortably in the second year than in the fifth.


• At least 90% of classrooms in most PASEC and SACMEQ countries had a blackboard and chalk; exceptions were Chad, Uganda and Zambia.


• Schools in conflict-affected countries suffer disproportionately. Education infrastructure was substantially damaged in Burundi and Mozambique. The re-emergence of conflict in Liberia in 2001–2003 damaged or destroyed school infrastructure: an estimated 23% of all primary schools were destroyed, while 18% suffered major damage.




• Sub-Saharan Africa had about 2.5 million primary school teachers in 2005, an increase of nearly half a million since 1999.


• However, the region still has the highest primary PTR among all regions (45:1). Twenty countries had PTRs above 40:1 in 2005, the highest being that of the Congo (83:1). Others with PTRs above 60:1 were Chad, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Rwanda.


• The region’s average PTR increased by 8.2% between 1999 and 2005. Clearly, the increase in the number of teachers did not keep pace with that in enrolment. At country level, PTRs decreased in about 60% of the thirty-seven countries with data, and increased in the rest. Some countries managed to reduce their PTR between 1999 and 2005,for instance Equatorial Guinea, from 57:1 to 32:1. On the other hand, the Congo, Ethiopia, Madagascar,




Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania, which already had ratios above 40:1 in 1999, experienced increases.


• National averages often mask large in-country disparities in the distribution of teachers. PTRs tend to be much higher in public than private schools, e.g. in Benin, Burundi, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, pointing to teacher shortages in public schools. Geographic variation in PTRs are particularly marked in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.


• The shortage of trained teachers is even more acute: the median percentage of trained primary teachers was less than 80% in sub-Saharan Africa in 2005. It was below 50% in Chad, Madagascar, Nigeria and Togo. In some countries such as Chad, Madagascar, and Mozambique, the ratio of pupils to trained teachers exceeded 100:1. Huge progress has been made in Namibia, where more than 90% of primary teachers had the required training in 2005, up from 29% in 1999. As a result, the pupil/trained teacher ratio declined from 109:1 to 33:1. The sharp increase in the absolute number of trained primary teachers in this country resulted from a policy of upgrading teacher qualifications and replacing untrained teachers with trained ones.


• Contract teachers are increasingly being employed as a solution to teacher shortages. In Cameroon, Chad, the Congo, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, the Niger, Senegal and Togo, contract teachers accounted for more than 50% of all teachers. In Cameroon, Chad, the Congo and Madagascar, such non-civil-servant teachers are mostly hired by local communities, although in Chad and Madagascar some community teachers under contract are subsidized by the government. In Guinea, the Niger, Senegal and Togo, the vast majority of non-civil-servant teachers are government teachers hired under contract. Policies to upgrade and professionalize untrained contract teachers are urgently needed if the provision of quality teachers for all is to be assured.


• The HIV/AIDS pandemic is an important cause of teacher absenteeism and attrition in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In Lesotho and Malawi, about a third of all teacher attrition is due to terminal illness, most of it presumably AIDS-related. In the United Republic of Tanzania, 42% of teacher deaths between 2000 and 2002 were reported to be due to AIDS.


Government policies and actions

A comprehensive policy approach is needed to promote equity in access to education and improve education quality. The box below indicates some of the policies and strategies that governments in sub-Saharan Africa have put in place to tackle the twin challenges of equity and quality.

Box 1: Examples of policies to:

Increase access


Targeting resources: Burkina Faso’s ten-year plan for basic education, launched in 2001, aims to reduce geographic disparities by setting aside additional resources for twenty provinces.


Reducing costs: The enrolment gaps for poor children, girls, children in rural areas, orphans and other vulnerable children, and children with special needs were all reduced following fee abolition in Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia. Donors have funded at least part of the additional expenditure necessitated by fee abolition in several countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. Some




countries adopted a phased-in approach to school fee reduction, as in Lesotho and Mozambique, enabling governments to add teaching posts and support schools with additional classrooms and learning materials.


Providing take-home rations in addition to school meals: Such measures were accompanied by sustained increases in enrolment in thirty-two sub-Saharan African countries.


Promote gender equality


• In Burkina Faso, girls’ participation in school has been encouraged by the formation of groups for mothers of schoolchildren. In addition, parents of girls entering primary school are no longer required to pay contributions to parent-teacher associations.


• Ethiopia’s Education Sector Development Programmes have focused on actions to increase equality, particularly for girls, pastoral groups and children with special needs. Actions include community sensitization campaigns and programmes to accompany girls to school and to install toilets and water supply in schools.


• In Ethiopia, where the GPI of the primary education GER increased by 43% from 1999 to 2006, the government raised the number of female teachers through admissions quotas at teacher training colleges.


Extend educational opportunities


For the disabled: Ethiopia’s special education needs strategy, introduced in 2006, is designed to encourage inclusive schooling by training teachers to identify learning difficulties and to establish support systems.


For youth and adults: Senegal’s ‘faire-faire’ approach relies on non-state providers to design and implement programmes for youths and adults within a framework set by the state. The model has spread to Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Guinea and the Niger.


For orphans and vulnerable children: Social protection programmes aimed at children affected by HIV and AIDS exist in several countries, including Botswana (covering 95% of households with such children), Namibia (33%), Lesotho (25%), Uganda (23%), Zambia (13%), and Kenya and Togo (10% each). In Zambia, a social cash transfer programme begun in 2004 provided cash to extremely poor households affected by HIV and AIDS. The programme covers 1,000 households with 2,360 children in the pilot phase and provides US$12.5 monthly per household with children. It resulted in an increase of 3% in enrolment among beneficiary children in Kalomo district.


Improve quality


Teachers: Countries have attracted teachers to the profession by lowering teacher training admission requirements (Mozambique), making the paths to teacher training more flexible (South Africa) and shortening the initial teacher training cycle (Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania). Attracting teachers to underserved areas remains a challenge in many countries; in Lesotho and Nigeria, teachers who agree to teach in rural schools are paid bonuses or hardship allowances. However, due to various factors, such as insufficient allowances and payment delays, these policies have not led to extensive relocation to rural areas.


HIV/AIDS education: Ethiopia, Mozambique and Senegal are some of the countries that have introduced HIV/AIDS education into their curricula and have provided training for teachers. The Primary School Action for Better Health programme in Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces in Kenya has demonstrated promising results in changing knowledge,




attitudes and behaviour about HIV/AIDS among learners, teachers and other key family and community leaders.


Multilingual instruction: Zambia’s Primary Reading Programme uses mother tongues for the first three years of schooling as the main medium of instruction. A pilot programme of bilingual instruction in Burkina Faso, which by 2006 covered 112 primary schools in 13 regions, had significant positive effects on student retention and achievement: the course has been reduced from six years to five and the pass rate in the national examination in these schools in 2004 was 94%, compared with 74% in all schools.


Assessment: In Zambia, results of a national assessment led to targeted distribution of learning materials to the schools where achievement was the lowest. Many countries (Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland) are moving towards a system of continuous assessment conducted by teachers to provide pupils with regular feedback.


Textbook availability: Some countries (e.g. Cameroon, Ethiopia, Guinea) have started to distribute textbooks free to priority areas or targeted groups. As part of its Education Sector Strategy, Cameroon in 2000 eliminated primary school fees, liberalized textbook production and distribution, and began to distribute free textbooks to priority areas. The Gambia has eliminated textbook rental fees and replaced them with loan arrangements.


Information and communication technologies (ICT) for learning: SchoolNet Africa involves more than twenty African countries. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development has launched a campaign to connect more than 550,000 schools in Africa to the Internet by 2020.


Investing in education in post-conflict situations is also important. In Uganda during the first post-conflict election campaign of the 1990s, the ruling party announced that primary school fees would be abolished, which helped restore faith in a more peaceful future. Developed by CARE during the war in southern Sudan, the Miith Akolda curriculum aims to disarm and rehabilitate children associated with armed groups.

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Financing EFA

While governments and donors have increased their spending on education in sub-Saharan Africa, lack of adequate and sustainable financing remains a key obstacle to achieving EFA in the region.


• Half the countries in sub-Saharan Africa spent more than 5.0% of GNP on education in 2005, though there was considerable variation among countries, with percentages ranging from 1.8% in Cameroon to 11% in Botswana.


• In 2005, in the twenty-one sub-Saharan countries with data, the median share of education expenditure in total government expenditure was 17.5%.


• The median annual growth rate of education expenditure between 1999 and 2005 was 5%.


• Fifteen countries in the region reported spending more than 2.0% of GNP on primary education in 2005 while thirteen spent less. The range was from 0.6% of GNP in Chad to 4.0% in Kenya.


• A survey of ten sub-Saharan African countries showed bias in total education expenditure towards wealthy households in the 1990s. Nevertheless, there is evidence that the expansion of primary education in recent years has particularly benefited the poorest and that disparities in expenditure at this level have decreased.



12 Major donors to a country are defined as those that contributed at least US$3 million between 2003 and 2005.

13 UPE (goal 2) is proxied by total primary NER (children of primary school age enrolled in either primary or secondary education); adult literacy (goal 4) by the literacy rate of those aged 15 and above; gender parity and equality (goal 5) by the gender-specific EFA index, which is an average of the GPIs for primary and secondary GER and the adult literacy rate; and quality of education (goal 6) by the survival rate to grade 5. The EDI gives equal weight to the four proxy measures. Since each measure is expressed as a percentage, the EDI for a country ranges from 0% to 100% or, when expressed as a ratio, from 0 to 1, where 1 represents full achievement of EFA as summarized by the EDI.



• Sub-Saharan Africa was the main recipient of total official development assistance (ODA) disbursements in 2005, although if humanitarian aid and debt relief are excluded, aid to the region has barely increased since 2004. The G8 made a commitment in 2005 to increase aid to the region by US$25 billion a year, compared with the 2004 level, by 2010.


• Countries in the region received about one-third of total aid to education in 2005, a share that had remained constant since 1999.


• Aid to sub-Saharan African countries for basic education amounted to US$1.5 billion a year averaged over 2004 and 2005, up from US$1.1 billion annually over 1999 and 2000. However, while countries in the region received 42% of aid for basic education to all developing countries in 1999 and 2000, the share was 34% in 2004 and 2005.


• Five of the fifteen main recipients of aid for basic education in 2004 and 2005 were in sub-Saharan Africa (Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia). These countries alone accounted for over one-third of all aid to basic education in the region.


• The distribution of aid to basic education across the region has not always benefited the countries that are furthest from reaching the EFA goals, and some with high proportions of out-of-school children received relatively low amounts of aid to basic education per child, including Burundi, Chad, the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and the Niger.


• The number of major donors12 per country varies widely; thirteen countries received aid from at least eight major donors: Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Niger, Senegal (with eight major donors each), Angola, Mali (nine), Ghana (eleven), Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Zambia (twelve), Kenya, the United Republic of Tanzania (thirteen) and Ethiopia (fourteen).


• Twenty-five sub-Saharan Africa countries have qualified for the Enhanced HIPC Initiative for debt relief since 1999, which may allow governments to increase domestic expenditure on education.


• Of the thirty-two low-income countries worldwide identified as having the lowest levels of educational development, twenty-three are in sub-Saharan Africa. Thirteen of the twenty-three have had their education plans endorsed in the Fast Track Initiative and six more are expected to do so by the end of 2008.


The Education for All Development Index: Summarizing progress

The EFA Development Index (EDI) is a composite measure of a country’s situation with regard to attaining the EFA agenda. It was introduced in the 2003/4 EFA Global Monitoring Report and is updated annually. Ideally, it should include measures of all six EFA goals, but for now it focuses on the four most easily quantified: UPE, adult literacy, gender parity and equality, and education quality, each proxied by one indicator.13

The EDI for 2005 could be calculated for twenty-seven of the forty-five sub-Saharan African countries. It is important to note that many countries continue to be excluded from the EFA global


14 In sub-Saharan Africa, such countries include Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia.

15 Goal 4 was projected only for 2015.

16 The years vary for each indicator according to data availability.

picture, including those in conflict or post-conflict situations, which are likely to suffer from low educational development and hence deserve particular attention.14

Among the results:


• No country has yet achieved the four most quantifiable EFA goals, and only one (Seychelles) is close to doing so, with an EDI value of 0.97.


• Ten countries rank in an intermediate position, with an EDI value between 0.80 and 0.94. In most of these countries, a low adult literacy rate or survival rate to grade 5, or both, pulls down the overall EDI value.


• Sixteen countries are far from achieving the EFA goals, with EDI scores below 0.80. For countries in the low EDI category, significant improvement is needed on all four components.


• Since 1999, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Lesotho have sharply raised their EDI values (by, respectively, 35%, 28% and 10%), mostly due to an increase in the total primary NER. But among other countries with data, none apart from South Africa has seen an increase of more than 1.8%. Chad and Namibia experienced decreases in their EDI values (by 4.2% and 1.5%, respectively), the weak point being the survival rate to grade 5. It is worth noting that among the nine countries in the region with EDI values for both 1999 and 2005, five (Chad, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia and Swaziland) have seen their survival rate to grade 5 decrease, illustrating the difficulty in combining increases in enrolment with improvement in quality.


Table 1: Mean distance from the four EFA goals

EFA achieved

(EDI between 0.98 and 1.00)


Close to EFA

(EDI between 0.95 and 0.97)

(1): Seychelles  

Intermediate position

(EDI between 0.80 and 0.94)

(10): Botswana, Cape Verde, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

Far from EFA

(EDI below 0.80)

(16): Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo


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