News / Africa

UNESCO: Poor Quality Education Costing Billions

An instructor teaches students in Lodwar, Turkana, Kenya. He supplements his teachers salary with a small shop managed by him and his wife. (K. Prinsloo/ ARETE/UNESCO)
An instructor teaches students in Lodwar, Turkana, Kenya. He supplements his teachers salary with a small shop managed by him and his wife. (K. Prinsloo/ ARETE/UNESCO)
William Eagle
In recent years, there’s been a global effort to expand universal access to primary school and provide all children a sound foundation for continuing on to lower secondary school. But a yearly monitoring report by UNESCO’s Education for All effort says governments are losing about $129 billion dollars per a year on poor quality education. As a result, about one in four students in poor countries -- about 175 million young people -- are not able to read a complete sentence. 
 
UNESCO says several factors, including poor teacher training and cutbacks in funding, account for underperforming educational systems.
 
Education specialist Pauline Rose, the director of the 2013 Global Monitoring Report by UNESCO’s program Education for All,  said sub-Saharan Africa would need about 225,000 additional teachers per year to achieve universal primary education by 2015,  or nearly 60% of the global total. 

Contract teachers
 

Many governments try to meet the demand by hiring contract teachers, who make up more than half the work force in many West African countries, including Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Niger. 
 
"The big appeal from the point of view of governments and programs often supported by some donors,"  she explained, "is that it reduces the wage bill of the government. The teachers are paid a fraction of the cost of civil servant teachers. So, you can hire far more teachers and get more teachers for the same amount of money. 

"At the same time, the teachers are not on fixed contracts so there seems to be advantages of having teachers that can be [dismissed] if at a later stage you don’t need so many or they are underperforming.

At a primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, teachers are guided by mentors to support them in implementing new teaching methods. (E-Jansson/UNESCO)At a primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, teachers are guided by mentors to support them in implementing new teaching methods. (E-Jansson/UNESCO)
x
At a primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, teachers are guided by mentors to support them in implementing new teaching methods. (E-Jansson/UNESCO)
At a primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa, teachers are guided by mentors to support them in implementing new teaching methods. (E-Jansson/UNESCO)
Rose said there's other issues revolving around low pay and poor teaching conditions: motivation.
 
"This is an important profession, she said, "and they need to be motivated to teach children well, to be in a classroom rather than doing other jobs, and this is one of the problems of recruiting teachers on these types of contracts.



 
Improved teacher recruitment
 
The report says teachers should come from a variety of backgrounds and geographical areas. Candidates should receive improved training, including mentoring and adequate classroom experience. It says pay should also be raised to meet the teachers’ basic needs, a step which could lead to recruiting them as civil servants. Governments could also offer incentives like good housing or bonuses to ensure teachers are allocated to disadvantaged areas.
 
Malawi is working with an international NGO to establish teacher colleges that train new candidates in skills for rural areas. Ethiopia encourages mentor and supervisors to help support new candidates. A project in South Sudan aims to increase the number of female teachers by providing financial support to women candidates. It’s also providing incentives to help over four thousand girls complete secondary school and potentially become teachers. 

Organizing priorities
 
The report mentions other ways to improve education.
 
Governments can reallocate how they spend their education funds.   For example, the report found that most educational resources in Malawi support the most educated 10 percent.
 
On the other hand, South Africa allocates six times more to students in areas with low incomes and education levels and high unemployment.  
 
The Education for All report says government will also need to increase spending. In many countries, financial support for education has waned or remained static.
 
The report says sub-Saharan Africa will need four billion dollars annually to pay the salaries of the additional primary school teachers required by 2020.  It also says the region will need another $26 billion per year to achieve universal primary education.
 
UNESCO encourages governments to devote about 20% of their national budgets and six percent of their gross domestic product to education.
                                                                   
The report says Angola has earned a great deal of money from lucrative natural resources for budget revenues but spends only nine percent of its budget on education, one of the lowest amounts in the world.
 
And it found that some countries – including Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Pakistan – allocate well under six percent of their GDP on education. It says in Pakistan, agriculture contributes more than 20 percent to the overall economy but contributes just over one percent in tax revenues to education. 

Raising funds
 
The report offers suggestions for raising the additional funds.
 
"The problem with government is that it’s not spending enough on education,"  said Rose.  "Some are spending up to 20 percent of their budget on education but the problem is that they are not raising enough in taxation. We suggest there are ways to increase the tax base because there are weak approaches to collecting taxes…. It’s too easy for elites to avoid paying taxes.  [Governments] need to tighten loopholes.

A woman bathes her child next to her hut in Turkana, Kenya. Educating mothers are more likely to seek medical help during pregnancy and childbirth.A woman bathes her child next to her hut in Turkana, Kenya. Educating mothers are more likely to seek medical help during pregnancy and childbirth.
x
A woman bathes her child next to her hut in Turkana, Kenya. Educating mothers are more likely to seek medical help during pregnancy and childbirth.
A woman bathes her child next to her hut in Turkana, Kenya. Educating mothers are more likely to seek medical help during pregnancy and childbirth.
According to the report, tax loopholes and corrupt practices deprive African governments of over $60 billion per year. UNESCO studied 67 countries that provided available data, and found they could increase funding for education by $153 billion dollars by diversifying their tax base. The report notes that the Democratic Republic of the Congo lost more than one billion dollars in mining deals in a three-year period -- money that could have funded the education budget for nearly two years.

 
Education pays off

UNESCO says the advantages of education are many:  an average one-year increase in education spending can boost a country’s economy by over two percent – and help people escape from poverty.
 
In Tanzania, more than 80% of workers with less than a primary education are living below the poverty line. UNESCO says by contrast, workers with a primary education are 20% less likely to be poor, and those with a secondary education reduced their chances by three times as much.  In Pakistan, those who can read and write earn 20% more than those who cannot. UNESCO says literate farmers are more likely to use new techniques and technologies, and educated mothers make better decisions regarding family health. 
 
Next year, the ambitious global effort to raise living standards, the UN Development Goals, comes to an end.
 
UNESCO says the framework that replaces them should include among its top goals the right to a quality education -- free and compulsory – for everyone.  

Listen to UNESCO report on education
Listen to UNESCO report on education i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs