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2008 AEC - African Education Challenges and Policy Responses: Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the African Development Bank


From marginal access to school before 1960, African modern education systems expanded steadily during the 1960s and 1970s, prompted by high priority given to education. The 1980s experienced stagnation and decline due to drastic decrease in education financing further to the balance of payment and budget deficits, and the ensuing structural adjustment programmes. Since 1990, there have been intensified efforts to reverse the trend through national and international efforts. African education sector continues to face serious challenges of low and inequitable access to education, irrelevant curriculum and poor learning outcomes, inadequate education financing, weak education system capacity, and weak link with the world of work. Drawing on relevant documents and data, the paper discusses briefly those challenges and the education policy measures taken to address them. It also assess to what extent the Bank response was relevant and effective in addressing the African education challenges. While progress has been made in bringing more children to schools, the results in terms of quantity and quality have been far from the targets particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. The paper concludes with a call for a greater effort to keep the promise for education for all and for quality education. This may require an invitation for a new forum on education to take stock and try again more realistic policies and better define means to effectively implement them. The forum’s resolutions should not be limited to the primary education but consider the education sector as a whole in the context of globalized economy and labor market.

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