News / Africa

Africa Faces Surge of Secondary School Students

A growing number of African primary school students are vying to get into secondary schools. But improving the education system can be expensive, and many governments are struggling. Development experts say that they may have little choice, since foreign investors are reluctant to spend money and create jobs in countries with a low skills base.

William Eagle
This is Part 7 of a 12-part series:  Education in Africa
Continue to Parts: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 /
6 / 7/ 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 /12

 

Africa’s educational systems are suffering from growing pains.  More students than ever are enrolling in school, but the supply of teachers and infrastructure have not kept up with demand.

Educators say about 80 percent of African students are completing primary school -- thanks in part to the push to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. They call for universal primary education by the 2015.

John Daniel, the president and CEO of the intergovernmental organization the Commonwealth of Learning, says success is bringing more challenges.

Secondary school students at KwaMhlanga High School in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Secondary school students at KwaMhlanga High School in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

“The African countries achieved in 10 years what it took many developed countries 100 years to do two centuries ago," he said, "and they don’t have many resources left over to do secondary.”

Development experts say secondary schooling is essential if Africa is to raise living standards.

“At the basic level of teachers and nurses, you’ve got to have some secondary education," he said, "You can’t really imagine someone being a nurse, [teacher, or health worker] straight out of primary [school].”

Daniel said secondary education has been shown to have significant effects on girls and young women.

“Girls who have secondary education … have on average worldwide one-point-eight fewer children than girls who don’t," he said. "That’s a difference of two or three billion to the population of the world by 2050. There is [one educational researcher, Joel Cohen] who says therefore girls’ education is best way of stopping population growth and climate change.”

But building a system of junior and senior high schools is expensive. Daniel says in industrialized countries, the cost of secondary education is more than one and a half times that of primary education. In Africa, he says it’s often two to three times as expensive. In one country, Uganda, it’s eight times the cost.

Students listen to ICT instruction at KwaMhlanga High School in Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Students listen to ICT instruction at KwaMhlanga High School in Mpumalanga, South Africa.

The Commonwealth of Learning proposes open schools, using new technologies and new ways to meet the needs of school aged children, drop-outs, mothers who want to learn at home and working adults.

He said the schools cut costs and save time by using new technologies, including cell phones. Secondary school curricula can be created and shared among schools without costly intellectual property rights.

That’s exactly what’s happening in a project involving six Commonwealth countries that develop and share course materials – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Seychelles, Zambia and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Suppose the Seychelles is [creating] the geography courses," said Daniel. "The geography of Seychelles is a different proposition from (for example) Namibia, but there will be some basic commonalities. The [teachers] in Namibia can take that, add to it the specificities of Namibia, and have a good geography curricula for a lot less money that if they had to start from scratch.”

Experts say improved Internet and cell phone technology is also making long-distance learning cheaper than conventional learning. Some secondary schools in Africa are considering the use of cell phones to reach students who cannot attend traditional classroom lectures.  Instead, they can listen to lessons sent by voicemail and even take tests by phone.

Daniel said the idea is based on a successful project in India, where rural women receive lessons on how to improve the health of their goats.

“The voice mail system that we’re using in India has a learning management system attached to it," he said. "So, when the women get a little quiz at the end of the lesson and they press buttons [to select the right answer], all that gets registered.”

Daniel said this and other ideas are being considered by open schools in Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Namibia.Nigeria and Cameroon will soon be opening similar schools.

Development experts say the success of these efforts is important on a continent where UN figures show that just 30 percent of students are enrolled in junior and senior high school. That’s less than half the world average.

You May Like

Australia Knights Prince Philip, Sparking National Outrage

Abbott's surprise reintroduction of knights and dames in the country's honors system last year drew criticism that he was out of touch with national sentiment More

SAG Award Boosts 'Birdman' Oscar Hopes

Individual acting Oscars appear to be sewn up: SAG awards went to artists who won Golden Globes: Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne, Patricia Arquette, J.K. Simmons More

Katy Perry Lights Way for Super Bowl's Girl Power Moment

Pop star's selection to headline US football championship's halftime show extends NFL's trend of selecting artists who appeal to younger viewers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sidesi
X
June Soh
January 23, 2015 10:03 PM
The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid