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

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Spanish Warrants Point to Russian Govt. Links to Organized Crime

    Links to several Russians, some of them reputedly close Putin associates, backed by ‘very strong evidence,’ Spanish judge says

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    Iraq needs stable, central government to push back against Islamic State, US says, but others warn that Baghdad may not have unified front any time soon

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora