UNESCO Sub-Sahara Africa 70 years behind SDG education goals

An education report shows the urgent need to focus on education through the globe, as through education, millions will be lifted from poverty, including in Sub-Sahara Africa.

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A global education report shows the urgent need to focus on education through the globe. Unless action is taken it might not be until the year 2084 that there will be universal upper secondary school education.

Focusing on education  in low-income countries would lift 60 million out of poverty by 2050.

The new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO, shows the potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). It also shows that education needs a major  transformation to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet.

While the SDGs work hand-in-hand,  SDG 4 works to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.

On current trends universal primary education in sub-Saharan Africa will be achieved in 2080; universal lower secondary completion in 2089; and universal upper secondary completion in 2099. This would leave the region 70 years late for the 2030 SDG deadline.

Ghana was mentioned throughout the report.

Looking at literacy skills the report found in Ghana, 61 percent of adults read below even the lowest level of proficiency. 65 percent of adults had completed primary school, and only 21 percent had completed senior high school.

Getting more students into SHS is something the country is mandated to do - in Ghana’s 1992 Republican Constitution it stipulates that the country must embrace progressively free Senior High School education.

In the run-up to the 2012 elections, President John Mahama promised 200 community day Senior High Schools would be built in under-served communities if he was elected and so far, 123 of the schools had been awarded on contract.



The UNESCO report also pointed to the gender disparity in educational attainment and literacy, finding that in Ghana, men have over two more years of education than women, and score over 40 points higher on a 500 point literacy scale.

The in-depth report looks at everyday chores and how they hamper education. It found reducing the time it takes to collect water and firewood can improve education outcomes by freeing time for educational activities, especially for women and girls (UNESCO, 2015).  In Ghana, research found that halving water fetching time increased school attendance by 2.4 percentage points, on average, among girls aged 5 to 15, and the impact was stronger in rural areas.

It called for education systems need to impart higher skills aligned with the demands of growing economies, where job skill sets are fast changing, many being automated. On current trends, by 2020, there will be 45 million too few workers with tertiary education relative to demand.

The Report shows this change is vital: achieving universal upper secondary education by 2030 in low-income countries would lift 60 million out of poverty by 2050.

Titled Education for people and planet, the report also shows the need for education systems to step up attention to environmental concerns.

While in the majority of countries, education is the best indicator of climate change awareness, half of countries’ curricula worldwide do not explicitly mention climate change in their content.

“A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet,” said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova in a release.

“Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together.”

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