According to a study published recently by UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), in the last 10 years, public spending on the education sector across Africa has significantly increased by over 6 per cent every year.
Government spending is rising
The report stated “The increase in investments has been accompanied by some spectacular results. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of children in primary schooling increased by 48% – from 87 million to 129 million. Enrollment in pre-primary, secondary and tertiary education has also grown by more than 60% during the same period.”
The report, released by UN agency’s Institute for Statistics in Montreal, reveals the details of government expenditure on education in all the 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The study represents the most up-to-the-minute data on what amount is being spent on various levels of education. It also found out historical statistics and kept a track on educational spending trends in the past 10 years. The study also showed data on the salaries and qualifications of educators, the costs of running schools, as well as the provision of textbooks.
Here are some of the key findings of the study-
- In Mozambique and Burundi, spending on education increased by an average of 12 per cent per year in the past decade.
- Only the Central African Republic has reduced their spending on education since 2000, out of all the 26 African nations for which comprehensive data is available.
- In general, over 5% of the gross domestic product of sub-Saharan Africa is spent on education. This figure is only to only is second to Europe and North America at 5.3%. However, in more than 33% of the nations in Africa, almost half of the kids are still unable to finish their primary education.
- At present, A total of 32 million African children are out of school.
- In many African countries, including Zambia, Rwanda, Mali and Guinea, development aid comprises of around 50 per cent of government education budgets. However, as a whole, in the region aid comprises for merely 5.6 per cent of the budget, which is a much smaller fraction.
Need for strategic decisions
UNESCO says that as most governments in Africa are dealing with imminent population growth and recent economic crises, they will be required to take strategic decisions regarding the budget for education. It is expected that the sub-Saharan African population of 5 to 14 year old individuals will expand by over 34 per cent in the coming 20 years. Moreover, the region will also be required to respond to the academic demands of almost 77 million new learners.
At present, most of the nations in sub-Saharan Africa spend about 10 times higher on university students than on primary school learners, according to the study. It was found that on average 8 out of every $10 is subsidised by federal governments, which is spent on university education across the region. These statistics result in “a serious question of equity”.
UNESCO says “Should a country that cannot provide every child with a primary education cover almost 80% of the costs for tertiary students, who tend to come from wealthier backgrounds?. By shifting more resources to lower levels of education, governments might stimulate more household spending for higher education, without threatening the growth of the tertiary sector.”
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