Pupils working back from school... Gurue. Zambezia Province. Picture: Neo Ntsoma 11/03/2010

Africa’s Literacy Targets Already Off Track: Unesco

ADDIS ABABA – One in ten children will not complete primary school in 2030 in sub-Saharan Africa if business continues as usual, says United Nations’ education agency.

Globally, when all children should be in school, one in six aged 6-17 will still be excluded in the 2030 deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Unesco says many children are still dropping out. By 2030, 40% will still not be completing secondary education at current rates, rising to 50% in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Without a rapid acceleration, one in ten children in sub-Saharan Africa will not even be completing primary school by the deadline,” says a new UNESCO projection prepared for the UN High-level Political Forum.

The global education goal, SDG 4, calls on countries to ensure that children are not only going to school but also learning, yet the proportion of trained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa has been falling since 2000.

At current trends, by 2030, learning rates are expected to stagnate in middle-income countries and Latin America, and drop by almost a third in Francophone African countries.

Without rapid acceleration, globally, 20% of young people and 30% of adults will still be unable to read by the deadline, according to the projection.

The 2030 Agenda for SDG emphasizes leaving no-one behind yet only 6% of the poorest 20% complete upper secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to 48% of the richest.

Finance is also insufficient for accelerating progress, the projection indicates. The Global Education Monitoring Report calculated in 2015 that there was a $39 billion annual finance gap to reach the goal and yet aid to education has stagnated since 2010.

In addition, currently less than half of countries are providing the data needed to monitor progress towards the goal.

“Countries need to face up to their commitments,” said the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Silvia Montoya. “What’s the point in setting targets if we can’t track them? Better finance and coordination are needed to fix this data gap before we get any closer to the deadline.”