We all agree that there are schools in Africa, however the challenge is; how much are Africa's children learning in schools?
Education is the key to; eliminating gender inequality, reducing poverty, creating a sustainable planet, preventing needless deaths and illness, and fostering peace. And in a knowledge economy, education is the new currency by which nations maintain economic competitiveness and global prosperity. Education is an investment, and one of the most critical investments we can make. This is true not only for Africa, but for countries around the world. However, Africa's education emergency does not make media headlines. We are not advocating for textbooks, good teachers and a chance to learn. But this is a crisis that carries high costs. It is far more expensive to have children out of school than to educate them. It is relegating a whole generation of children and youth to a future of deficiency, insecurity and redundancy. It is starving corporations of the skills that are the strength of enterprise and innovation. And it is destabilising visions for sustained economic growth in Africa.
While there is much reason to celebrate the improvement in education that Africa has made over the past decades, there is a deeper learning crisis that needs to be addressed. African governments and the global community need to work together and act now to raise standards and improve learning results, the potential of tens of millions of African youth will be wasted and Africa's social and economic progress will stagnate if we do not have a roundtable conference on how to change the face of this challenge. Lack of access to quality education, is preventing millions of Africans from escaping the cycle of extreme poverty. Although many governments have reduced challenge to enrolment by providing free education, most Africans are getting it at the cost of remaining illiterate. We are focused on getting them into school and overlooking what happens to them in school, through school and after school.
Ideally, education should happen in colleges, it should not be happening on company campuses. The number of people lacking the ability to participate in the workforce has the makings of a potential demographic disaster. If attention is not given to Global Goal 4 "QUALITY EDUCATION; Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all" with a sense of urgency, we will have an army of young people left behind and increasingly frustrated with their lot. They not only have the potential to derail Africa's growth prospects, but also challenge the basic fibre of our society.
What can we do to change the conversation on education in Africa? We cannot leave the duty to the government, what can be done to change the statistics by 2030?
If we manage to get the education bit right, then a lot of things can go right in Africa.