State Education in Africa: A Quantitative or Qualitative Approach?

upeOver the decades, Africa has come a long way in the education sector. With the mostly-struggling national budgets allocating reasonable funds to improving accessibility to education for the young, and hand-in-hand with educational schemes funded by donor countries and major NGOs like UNESCO and UNICEF, African governments and local NGOs have achieved remarkable literacy levels among the youth.

At the core of this struggle has been the objective to make education accessible and mostly free to those who cannot afford it. The Ugandan government, for example, has over the years implemented Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE). This has quantitatively increased our literacy rate; a fact sheet by the nation’s Ministry of Education and Sports in 2015 recorded an enrolment of 8,264,317 pupils in Primary School in 2015 as opposed to 7,223,879 pupils a decade before. The Secondary School enrolment also rose to 1,284,008 students in 2015 from a miserable 728,393 students in 2005.

Impressive as the numbers may be, the same can sadly not be said about the quality of the free education the Ugandan government is providing. The system has been marred by traces of corruption and misallocation of funds, which have led to a lack of resources & material, inadequate and substandard facilities, poor wages for teachers and poor sanitation and hygiene in state-funded schools.

This is unlike in Rwanda, where the government has not only provided the UPE, but also gone ahead to give the pupils access to modern resources that prepare them for a rapidly growing economy in the country. By the end of 2013 alone, Rwanda’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project had distributed more than 200,000 laptops in over 400 schools across the nation.

In a weekly TweetChat I run on My Twitter called #AfriWeekly, I sought the opinions of Ugandan youth on whether we should continue handling state education in Africa with a quantitative (average education for all) or qualitative (quality education for as many children as we can) approach, given the current results of the former in Uganda as a case study. We also discussed the feasibility of both. Their opinions were interesting, and mostly unanimous.

Some were of the view that Uganda’s education was being set back by government interference, and that if education in Uganda could be prioritized as a standalone sector, a lot would change.

What’s your opinion? Can we change the status quo of state education in Uganda and other African countries whose children are not getting access to quality state-funded education? You could always leave a comment; it’s welcome. Also, discuss with us this and other issues affecting African Youth on Twitter every Friday, 1500hrs-1700hrs EAT (UTC +3). Only on our #AfriWeekly TweetChat.

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