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Education: Important Factor in Developing African Economies

Education in African Economies

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.

For thousands of years, education has been an integral part of society. Education is of great significance if not the most important factor in the development of any country. Enough proof for the call to prioritize education ahead of everything in Africa, and for that matter, Ghana. We see the evidence clearly how other countries are taking this seriously and its impact. Having a good education is very vital in today’s world and has always been. Education means a form of learning in which knowledge, skills and habits are transferred from one generation to another generation.

Sadly, we are yet to witness quality and revolutionary knowledge transfer across Africa and Ghana to be precise from one generation to another. The kind that improves our state of affairs, competitively and globally. Many years down the line, our leaders have played and toyed with our education system without any regard to the effects. Today, the story remains same with our defunct policies, syllabi and curricula, outdated teaching methods and solutions running our education. Are we then surprised of its outcome and how far we have come with our “priorities” as a country?

The quality of secondary, vocational/technical and higher education is often measured by the performance of workers in the labor market. That is why the African education system must be strengthened to absorb the entry of millions of African young people into the national and global workforce—UNESCO.

The African continent is full of tremendous promise. Emerging out of decades of stagnation, the continent is now getting home to part of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. The significant strides in Africa’s socio-economic progress have helped to grow a vibrant middle class and propel technological advancements at a rapid pace. However, education needs a critical consideration with right policies and reforms.

Education policy consists of the principles and government policies in the educational sphere as well as the collection of laws and rules that govern the operation of education systems. A complete education system provides large number of qualified people with advanced knowledge and skills in a wide range of subjects and talents cultivation, with requisite educational facilities, materials, teaching and learning methods. Education in itself has tremendous influence on spirit civilization, which accounts for a large part in a country’s development. As a place where knowledge handed down and wisdom passed around, school represent the homeland of scholars like Socrates and Confucius, who had huge impact on the promotion of spirit civilization, and the birthplace of innovative ideas like democracy. This is basic way to improving education and having positive effect on local economy.

The economy, directly influences the national power of a country and the well-being of its citizens.

Some relevant scenarios affecting education in Africa

Lack of proper facilities and educators

A reason for the low education rates in Africa is the lack of proper schooling facilities and unequal opportunity for education across countries. Many schools across Africa find it hard to employ teachers due to the low pay and lack of suitable people. This is particularly true for schools in remote areas. Most people who manage to receive education would prefer to move to big cities or even overseas where more opportunities and higher pay await. Thus, there will be an overly large class sizes and high average number of students per teacher in a school. Moreover, the teachers are usually those unqualified with few teaching aids and poor textbook provision. Due to this, children attending schools in rural areas usually attain poorer results in standardized tests compared to their urban counterparts.

With teachers being less qualified than others in urban areas, the teaching to learning environment takes an effect amongst the students. Those that do not receive the same education to those in the bigger cities have trouble even after graduation with reading, writing, reasoning, and mathematics. Students who do not attain the same equal education to those in urban environments do not achieve the same outcome in establishing success with a career.

With education being a major concern towards achieving a career and establishing a future, Africa needs to be aware that equal education needs to be established within all schools throughout the countries.

Corruption in education

Studies report that lack of parent involvement, especially as an overseer of government activities also leads to enormous corruption. This is so because parents and communities feel as though they lack any kind of power in regard to their child’s education. In Uganda only 50% of parents believe that they have the power to influence decisions regarding the education of their child. In Morocco, just 20% of parents believed they held any sort of power.

The unavailability and incompleteness of records in schools and districts prevents the documentation and prevention of corrupt practices. The African Education Watch conducted surveys all over the continent and identified the three most common practices of corruption:

  • Illegal collection of fees:One part of their research focused on so-called registration fees. Parents from every country surveyed reported paying even though, by law, primary schooling is free. The report found that the number of parents forced to pay these illegal accounting fees ranged from 9% in Ghana, to 90% in Morocco.
  • Embezzlement of school funds:In the study, Transparency International found that 64% of the schools surveyed on the continent published no financial information at all.
  • Power abuse:Another major problem is incompetent management. The report found that in many schools the little resources they did have were being wasted or lost. Overall, 85% of schools across all countries had either deficient accounting systems or none at all. Very few head teachers received training in financial management, despite being responsible for budgets. Sexual abuse in schools from teachers remains a problem too. As well as teacher absenteeism and alcoholism.

Can NGOs help?

To be effective in education in Africa NGOs must effect policy and create policy changes that support their projects, and must create and foster relationships with many different stakeholders. The most important stakeholders are usually donors and government officials. But the biggest challenge for NGOs has been linking these networks together. NGO interventions must create a successful way to change the policy process while making sure that the public understands and is a part of the education policy. In the best cases, NGOs and government officials must find each other’s mutual strengths in education policy and find ways to practically collaborate and reach both of their objectives.

Africa as the world’s most youthful continent, requires investment in education and training–essential in building an educated and skilled workforce and to encourage innovation. Finding productive jobs for young people is critical to the continent’s future. An educated and skilled population is attractive to many employers and investors. Many employers across Africa have been critical of the lack of basic, technical and transferable skills of graduates. We must continue to have a solution-driven conversation with policy-makers, educators, administrators, philanthropists and those interested in capacity-building about the challenges and opportunities in education on the African continent. This, IMANI Ghana amongst other relevant organizations have championed over the years.

The Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana, have also taken up the challenge in this direction to call for capacity building, focusing on ICT, to elevate and mainstream the conversation on education as a key component of the economic development narrative of Africa. Such actions will uniquely improve the educational landscape in Africa.

Moving Forward

The quality of education offered within a country is a strong predictor of economic growth rates, according to the World Bank. African nations stand to benefit from a better-educated labor market where workers possess the skills and knowledge to compete in a knowledge-based global economy. While universal access to schooling yields some economic benefits, significant improvements in the quality of learning will achieve a greater impact for advancing development progress and economic growth in countries.

Public investment in education is vital in building a highly skilled and educated workforce and in sustaining Africa’s prosperity and progress. Recognizing the strong correlation between education and socio-economic development, countries in sub-Saharan Africa have gradually increased public spending on education by more than 6 percent each year.

Private schools should be encouraged and monitored seamlessly by authorities, governed by relevant policies and frameworks. It is a viable alternative to a failing public education system. More so, strengthening public-private partnerships will assist in complementing public sector funds to finance the public education system in Africa. Strong education systems are key drivers of economic growth, thus, public-private partnerships will bolster public education budgets to garner improvements in the overall education system.

The rapidly growing working age population is a wake-up call for African governments, universities, and employers to collectively take action to boost job creation and innovation in the formal and informal sectors. Young people must be prepared for jobs in today’s globalized economy to ensure a smooth transition of graduates into the labor market. Therefore, the African education system needs real improvement. Governments must focus on the quality of education by investing in trained teachers, instructional materials, and infrastructure development. Ghana government for that matter must assess the country’s priorities and needs and invest in areas that will foster innovations and help to build a skilled and educated workforce. As Africa is facing a severe shortage of highly-skilled African talent, governments must make a concerted effort to correct such serious disparity between skills of graduates and the demands of a local and global workforce.

Every success and system is a deliberate design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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