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

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora