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New research highlights needs for Global Action on Learning in Africa

New research highlights needs for Global Action on Learning in Africa

Half of primary school age children in sub-Saharan Africa to reach adolescence unable to read, write, or perform basic numeracy tasks.

Africa faces a twin crisis of access to education and quality of learning, according to the new Africa Learning Barometer from the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Covering 28 sub-Saharan countries, this first region-wide survey of learning on the continent estimates that 61 million children of primary school age – one-in-every-two – will reach their adolescent years unable to read, write, or perform basic numeracy tasks.

At the same time, the number of out of school children in Africa – which already accounts for more than half of the global total of 61 million – is set to increase by more than 3 million by 2020. This marks an unfortunate reversal in impressive enrolment gains on the back of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals declaration.

“The data from the Africa Learning Barometer illustrates the urgent need for the international community to make education a top priority for the future of Africa’s growth, stability and prosperity” said Justin w. van Fleet, Brookings Fellow at the Center for Universal Education and a researcher behind the Barometer.

“Our projections show that 17 million children in Africa will never go to school and that one-third of the 97 million children in Africa will go to school but not learn the basic skills they need to succeed in life.”

The Barometer, which will be officially launched at Brookings on September 17, is part of a wider collaboration with the Financial Times Ltd’s This Is Africa magazine and comes at a critical time for the global education debate; with the international community beginning the process of defining a post-MDG development agenda.

This Is Africa has produced a special report bringing together leading figures in business, policy and development amid growing recognition amongst key stakeholders in education for the need to emphasise quality, as well as access, in order to build on the success of the MDGs. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who wrote the foreword to the report, welcomed the new research ahead of the launch of his Education First initiative on September 26th.

The business community is also taking a more active role in positioning itself as a key partner to governments, civil society and the development community in addressing the education challenges countries face.

Chief Executive of Pearson International John Fallon said: “Demographics apart, one of the most important factors driving economic growth is educational attainment.  Yet the Africa Learning Barometer shows there is a crisis in learning which requires urgent action by the governments, NGOs and businesses who want to see a stable and growing Africa.

 “Tackling Africa’s learning crisis could help to lift many millions out of poverty across the continent just as surely as in China, India and Brazil.”

The full, interactive dataset of the Learning Barometer, and the special report can be accessed atwww.thisisafricaonline.com/access, and you can follow the conversation on twitter using#AfricaLearning. 

For further information please contact: 

The Brookings Institution
Mao-Lin Shen
Communications Director
Tel: +1-202-797-6421 
Email: mshen@brookings.edu

This Is Africa

Dalal Rahman
Marketing Assistant
Tel: +44(0)20 7775 4917
Email: dalal.rahman@ft.com

About This Is Africa

This Is Africa seeks to examine African business and politics in a global context and to make sense of the relationships that Africa is building with the rest of the world. It aims to challenge international preconceptions about the continent and to identify the opportunities and the risks in this dynamic business environment. This Is Africa is part of the Financial Times Ltd. For more information go to www.thisisafricaonline.com/access, or follow the conversation on twitter using #AfricaLearning.

About the Brookings Center for Universal Education

The Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution is one of the leading policy initiatives focused on universal quality education in the developing world. The Center develops and disseminates effective solutions to achieve equitable learning, whereby all children and youth are able to access a quality education that supports their lifelong learning and development. The Center plays a critical role in influencing the development of new international education policies and in transforming them into actionable strategies for governments, civil society and private enterprise. For more information, please visit www.brookings.edu/universal-education.

About the Financial Times 

The Financial Times, one of the world’s leading business news organisations, is recognised internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. Providing essential news, comment, data and analysis for the global business community, the FT has a combined paid print and digital circulation of approx 600,000 (Deloitte assured, 2 April 2012 – 1 July 2012) and a combined print and online average daily readership of close to 2.1 million people worldwide (PwC assured, May 2012). FT.com has more than 4.8 million registered users and over 300,00 paying digital subscribers. The newspaper has a global print circulation of 280,124 (ABCs, August 2012).

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