Quality Education in Africa: A privilege for the few or a right for all?

We usher in 2014 with an alarming report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), regarding the state of education on the African continent. Under the theme “Teaching and Learning: Achieving quality for all” the report indicates that not a single goal of the Education for All campaign will be achieved by 2015, the intended deadline. In addition, the Africa Learning Barometer created by the Center for Universal Education at Brookings issued a report early last year which stated that 17 million African school-aged children will never attend school.

While we, at the Bokamoso Leadership Forum (Bokamoso), have discussed education through our articles during the years, and in our reflections at the end of the year, we have never focused on education as a theme. Thus, as our first theme of 2014, we would like to consider “Quality Education in Africa: A privilege for a few or a right for all?”, and we invite you all to join us.

As the Bokamoso community, the regular and guest contributors, and our entire readership, we come from various countries and mostly comprise of a minority that has benefited from quality education on the continent and abroad. This undoubtedly means we are in a better position to critically examine the state of education and engage in discussions that fruitfully get us to expand access to education beyond our elite circles. If this is not certain, perhaps we should consider the  phrase coined by Rye Barcott that ‘talent is universal, but opportunity is not’ and  interpret it  to mean we, who have been granted the opportunity of education, have a responsibility to effect change in a manner that affirms the importance of transformational teaching and learning in building a just society.

We therefore invite you to join us in answering the following questions:

  1. How ‘universal’ is education? Who is included and who is excluded? Who gets to attend school and who doesn’t?
  2. Are educational policies all-encompassing? Do we spend enough money on education?
  3.  Does the legacy of colonialism have any impact on education? Is this positive or negative? How does it affect our education systems in various countries?
  4. Do we value teaching and teachers? How many people would consider being teachers? Are teachers adequately rewarded for the central role they play in our societies?
  5. What is the state of public schools? What are other stakeholders, besides the governments doing? And can we still rely on governments to deliver?
  6. Can we make education more transformational and less transactional?
  7. What is the state of higher learning? Are institutions of higher learning preparing students adequately? Do vocational schools still have value?
  8. And what of ‘brain circulation’? How do we ensure that knowledge is dispersed?
  9. What about ‘brain drain’? How do we ensure quality education on the continent and retention of those who have benefited from this education?
  10. How do we use education to effect social change?

Obviously these questions are not at all exhaustive, but they are a start. In addition, our discussions and responses cannot be in a vacuum, there is need to consider other aspects such as the socio-cultural environment, the political and economic development. We also need to consider structural discrimination of many minorities.

We would like to extend an invitation to both the regular contributors, guest contributors and anyone interested in submitting an article touching on this theme to please contact the Bokamoso Editorial team at: bokamosoafricablog@gmail.com.We look forward to hearing from you.



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