Friday, April 12, 2013

Millennium Development Goals and Education Quality

Students of the Internation School in Burundi
As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals draws near, it is readily apparent that progress has been made in increasing the number of children enrolled in primary education. But while enrollment rates have soared, the quality of education has deteriorated. In a rush to meet the second Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal basic education, nations have promoted free and compulsory education but cannot keep up with the necessary expansions of education facilities. The result? Overcrowded classrooms, insufficient space, facilities and materials in poor condition due to overuse.
Though most of the African continent is on track to meet its target of universal primary education—17 countries already have net enrollment rations above 90 percent, while Algeria, Burundi, Egypt São Tomé and Príncipe, Tanzania, Togo, and Tunisia have met or exceeded the target of 95% enrollment—quality remains a critical issue.
An article published in the Daily Trust speaks of one school in Nigeria where 90 pupils are crowded into a classroom built for 30 and teachers, who cite lack of training, non-upgrade of academic qualifications, and poor remuneration for low teaching standards, are far too few.
The poor quality of education is evidenced in declining exam scores; recent pass rates for Nigeria’s Senior School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) are as low as 39%.  Low achievement on exams is not specific to Nigeria, nor to the African continent, but efforts to improve education quality must be addressed through country-specific models that lay out curricular and pedagogical reforms, as well as state-backed training for teachers. While reaching the goal of universal primary education is a step in the right direction, it is not sufficient to ensure that the education provided is one of quality and relevance.
Friends of Humanity is committed to fostering access to and quality of education. Click here to read more about our projects in education, and to donate to the cause.

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