Africa is experiencing a learning crisis which requires urgent response. According to the World Bank, 9 out of 10 children in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) do not achieve basic reading and numeracy skills by the age of 10 (World Bank, 2019).
This is a shocking statistic, especially when compared to developed economies where only 1 out of 10 children do not achieve basic literacy and numeracy skills at the same age.
In Kenya, 56% of children cannot read and understand simple texts at the end of primary school.
The World Bank predicts that because of COVID-19, learning poverty has been made worse by at least 10%.
Foundational literacy and numeracy are critical skills children need for success throughout their school careers and to participate gainfully in employment in their adult years.
In response, the Board of Advisors of Human Capital Africa (HCA), an accountability and advocacy initiative, have issued a Call-to-Action to policymakers across the continent to take note and respond to this alarming learning crisis.
HCA’s Board of Advisors includes stalwarts, who have been driving development in their corners of Africa, like Board Chair Dr.Joyce Banda, Trevor Manuel, Kennedy Odede, Kah Walla, Adama Gaye, Sangu Delle, N’Diaye Ramatoulaye Diallo, Erastus J.O. Mwencha and Rosa Whitaker. Together, they are committed to putting this issue on top of policymakers’ agendas.
“This is a wakeup call for Heads of States, Ministers, donors and other partners. It is time to prioritise learning for our children. If children cannot read and do basic mathematics at the age of 10, they will be deprived of the opportunity to be productive members of the workforce, society, and the global economy”. Board Chair Dr. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi.
The Call-to-Action invites policymakers to take five actions:
- Recognize the challenge by reviewing the current state of foundational learning in their country
- Prioritise the issue at all levels of government
- Collect, report, and use data on student learning and the overall education system
- Learn from evidence and other countries and implement what works
- Hold themselves and others accountable by taking regular stock of progress
HCA, spearheaded by Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, was launched last year in October 2021, alongside the Nigerian Economic Summit (NES27), in the presence of African dignitaries and education experts.
“It is our responsibility to bring Africa out of this crisis. I invite my fellow country leaders to accept our Call-to-Action and work with Human Capital Africa. Together, we can embark on the journey to improve the quality of education in Sub-Saharan Africa” Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, CEO and Founder Human Capital Africa.