African Union’s Year of Education 2024

26 February 2024

Education is a human right for all children, always and everywhere – girls, children with disabilities, children from rural or poor communities or those experiencing emergency or crisis situations.

During their recent Summit, the African Union recently convened Heads of State to launch their Year of Education 2024 under the theme “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa”.

The more innovative we are in our thinking and practices, the more progress in transforming the education systems in Africa fit for the 21st century. Investments must be early (so more to pre and primary than to tertiary education. We need to go beyond our traditional thinking of schools as buildings but schools as places, any place where learning take place. Why waiting for schools to be built to catch up with the fast-growing population if there are community centres, churches, and mosques.

On behalf of EIC, Okwalinga David, M&E Manager said, “Education is the right of every child and the foundation for children’s well-being, happiness, growth, and lifelong learning. It is an enormous positive step that the AU has translated the above and called for a year of education in 2024. This gives us a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to use the momentum to the fullest and develop the human capital for the future of the continent.”

Children enrolled in at least one year of pre-primary education are more likely to develop the critical skills they need to succeed in school and less likely to repeat grades or drop out. As adults, they contribute to peaceful societies and prosperous economies. Evidence of the ways in which pre-primary education advances development exists around the world. Completion rates in Africa between 2000 and 2022 went from 52 to 69 percent in primary, 35 to 50 percent in lower secondary and 23 to 33 percent in upper secondary education. This is impressive: today more children are in school than ever before, and completion rates have increased at all levels.

In many African countries, it is more than the data when talking about those children who start their pre-primary education from their early childhood. Children from poor families are the least likely to attend early childhood education programmes. For children who do have access, poorly trained educators, overcrowded and unstimulating environments, and unsuitable curricula diminish the quality of their experiences, thus their education in crisis.

Efforts to scale up access to pre-primary education should not come at the expense of quality. Quality is the sum of many parts, including teachers, families, communities, resources, and curricula. Without adequate safeguards for quality, expansion efforts can intensify education inequities. It is only by investing in quality as education systems grow – not after – that governments can expand access and maintain quality.

To improve literacy and numeracy in the early years, equipping children, every girl and boy, with solid foundational and socio-emotional skills, which, in the long run, will help reverse performance gaps and better position children to obtain higher-level knowledge and competencies in later years, including digital skills and climate change knowledge is crucial. 

This must start with ensuring that teachers and relevant support personal are adequately trained to support quality learning for every child. Improving literacy and numeracy starts with a solid early learning. Every child must have access to early childhood education.

EIC works to give every child a fair start in education. We support pre-primary education by:

  • Building political commitment to quality pre-primary education through evidence generation, advocacy, and communication
  • Strengthening policies and advocating for increased public financing for pre-primary education
  • Bolstering national capacity to plan and implement quality pre-primary education at scale while enhancing the quality of pre-primary programmes by supporting the development of quality standards, curricular frameworks, teacher training packages and more.
  • Collecting data and generating evidence for innovative approaches that deliver quality pre-primary education for vulnerable children.
  • Delivering conflict-sensitive early childhood education and psychosocial support to young children and their families in humanitarian situations is critical.

For children who do have access, poorly trained educators, overcrowded and unstimulating environments, and unsuitable curricula diminish the quality of their experiences, thus their education in crisis. To join make foundational learning possible, join our One Million Africans Campaign by committing just $1.

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