ARMED conflicts are the biggest threat to education development in Africa, as not less than 21 African countries are among the highest spenders on military globally relative to the amount directed towards education, says Professor Rashid Aderinoye of the Department of Adult Education, University of Ibadan, quoting a UNESCO’s 2011 report.
He made the comments at the just-concluded International Conference on Education organised by the University of Nairobi, School of Education and External Studies Programme, Kikuyu Campus, Kenya, where he delivered a paper entitled ‘Education: A Vaccine for the Development of Africa.’
According to Aderinoye, one of the influences of war and conflict on education is the diversion of public funds from education to military spending, a development he noted has led to the displacement of children who run to neighbouring countries where education facilities are not even enough for the citizens.
Aderinoye also identified corruption, especially among government functionaries, as a major bane of education in Africa.
He quoted a 2010 report by Transparency International which states that its research gathered from 8,500 educators and parents in Ghana, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda that African children are being denied education in incredibly large numbers due mostly to systemic corruption.
He said: “Indeed, Africa deserves and needs every stimulus for social and economic development. The level of competitiveness demanded by global dynamics requires skilled people, hence the need for adequate attention to education to help Africa meet this challenge.
“However, African countries are severely constrained in their struggle to win the explosion in the social demand for education among its population. The global economic recession is also affecting the resources available for education.
“New economic policies of liberalization, free market enterprise and structural adjustment brought about by globalization have also reduced public investment on education. This is where education has been most adversely affected.”
According to him, though, Africa has witnessed major and significant changes, as no part of the continent is foreign rule, stagnation in all its manifestations has been the unwholesome experience of the continent, which is still grappling with massive unemployment, poverty, ignorance, illiteracy, debt and diseases, environmental degradation, uncontrolled population growth and intense political crises.
Aderinoye also noted that due to high linguistic diversity, the legacy of colonialism and the need for knowledge of international languages such as English and French in employment and higher education, there is considerable evidence that pupils schooled in a second language achieve poorer results than those schooled in their mother tongue.
“Our hope for education for sustainable development of Africans, as well as our infrastructural facilities, will be fulfilled only if we consider the following as the way forward: African governments need to go beyond lip service to education and put to action political promises to educational advancement as demonstrated by the likes of Nkrumah of Ghana, (Obafemi) Awolowo in Western Nigeria and Nwalimu Julius Nyerere in Tanzania.
“Funding of education in Africa should move from spending to investing,” he said.
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