Improving Primary Education for All

24/05/2010
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“In absolute terms, despite improvements in the number of children enrolled in primary school and those who complete primary school, Africa will probably not meet the objective of providing education for all.”

This message is contained in the 2010 African Economic Outlook on the Millennium Development Goals on education.

Jointly released in Abidjan on May 24, 2010, by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and the OECD within the framework of the AfDB Annual Meetings, the African Economic Outlook points out that out of 29 countries for which statistics were available for the period 1991-2007, only Morocco, Mali, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Guinea and Ethiopia posted significant improvements in their average rates of primary school attendance from 30% to 50%.   

In the cases of Djibouti, Swaziland, Togo, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Rwanda, Gambia, Burundi and Burkina Faso, the average rates of primary school attendance improved from 10% to 30% during the same period.  

However, the report reveals that statistics between 2005 and 2007 point to declining primary school attendance in Tunisia, Algeria, Togo, Eritrea, and Malawi.

Furthermore, the Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea were completely off the mark, with declines in the average primary school attendance rate standing at over 27% between 1991 and 2007. Cape Verde and South Africa also witnessed slight declines.   

“On the one hand, since 2007, Mauritius, Zambia, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Madagascar, as well as Sao Tome and Principe have either attained the goal or are less than 5% below the goal. Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda, and Uganda are between 5% and 10% of the goal. If thirteen other countries maintain the pace observed between 1991 and 2005, they will attain the objective. These countries include Namibia, Swaziland, Kenya, Cape Verde, Burundi, Mauritania, Togo, Guinea, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ghana, and the Gambia.

On the other hand, 7 other countries have posted very low primary school attendance rates and are way off the mark by 37% to 58%: Djibouti, Eritrea Niger, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo and Mali”.

The rate of completion

If the news is relatively encouraging with respect to overall enrolment, progress is rather slow in terms of school completion. The primary school completion (RPC) rate is not an official MDGs indicator; it however serves as a measure of the quality of an educational system.