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African countries are still not doing enough to meet one of the UN’s most important development targets, according to a new report to be published next week

October 18, 2019

By Wallace Mawire

A girl reads in a classroom in Madagascar. CREDIT: GPE/Carine Durand

The eLearning Africa Report 2019, which provides a snapshot of the state of education, training and development on the continent, interviewed more than 900 education professionals and technology experts about key issues, including progress towards the United Nations’ goal of universal access to quality education by 2030. 

The goal (UN SDG 4) is set out in the UN’s list of sustainable development goals (SDGs), which every country should meet by 2030. However, the eLearning Africa Report’s survey of education and training professionals, working in almost every country in Africa, shows that a substantial majority believe that African countries are still not doing enough to ensure universal access to quality education for all Africans.

The finding, which is among the results in a survey in the report, will make uncomfortable reading for African leaders. The achievement of UN SDG 4 is not only an important UN goal, but also a major plank in the African Union’s plan for a ‘transformed continent’ by 2063. However, the survey shows that, by majorities of more than 12 per cent, experts believe that, in every major area of education, insufficient progress has been made.

“SDG 4 is perhaps the most important of the UN sustainable development goals and the disappointment about the lack of progress towards realising it is striking,” says the report. “It seems too that the further up the educational ladder you look, the greater the belief that insufficient progress is being made. 56 per cent of respondents do not believe that African countries are doing enough to ensure that, by 2030, all girls and boys will complete free primary and secondary education. However, the percentage of those believing that not enough has been done to improve access to higher education and vocational training or further education is as high as 65 per cent.”

In spite of the gloom about progress towards meeting the UN SDGs though, there is a sense of optimism about overall progress. More than two thirds (72 per cent) of the experts questioned said they think that the African Union’s 2063 vision is “realistic.”

“If our youth are empowered, believe in their own self-worth and think creatively,” said one of the experts, “Africa will be an inspiration to other continents with new inventions and original African solutions benefitting all.”

The eLearning Africa Report, which has been sponsored by GIZ, the German organisation for international cooperation, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), makes fascinating reading. With contributions from experts, practitioners, advisers, entrepreneurs and even students and artists, it provides an insight into how technology assisted learning and training are leading change and development throughout Africa. As businesses assess the implications of a ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ it looks at the state of education, training, development and technology at this moment of unparalleled change.

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