Africa’s teachers tell us about the progress of education in their country, and what they see as the biggest challenges and hopes for African teachers and students. Education features prominently in the millennium development goals, and MDG2 aims to ensure that all children complete a full course of primary education, measured by enrolment, the proportion who reach the last grade, and literacy rates for those aged 15-24.
Take a look at all our Global development education stories or view other interactives from the Global development voices series.
Olivia Muhumuza Mathematics and science; also headteacher – Railway Children primary school, Kampala, Uganda
“Uganda has created policies to encourage children to complete at least a primary school education, which has raised enrolment significantly. However, although many children are in school, I’m not very comfortable with the quality of education they are getting. Facilities do not match enrolment, leading to overcrowded classrooms and high teacher-pupil ratios – a teacher may have to manage a class of 100-plus children for the whole day. Some teachers are underqualified; the numbers were overwhelming when the universal primary education programme started. But the government is rectifying this with in-service teacher training.
Maria Emelia Primary grade 2 teacher – School 61, Lubango, Angola
Our biggest problem is overcrowding. The war left us without enough classrooms and teachers.
We are much luckier than the rural areas, where teaching takes place under trees. Lubango remained in government hands throughout the war and its schools never closed. The greatest pressure on us is the population influx caused by the war. It continues to put pressure on facilities. Some of our classes are based in an abandoned chapel in another part of the city, and that is really unsatisfactory because it creates disparities.
Enoch Abukari Primary grade 3, also assistant headteacher – Tarikpaa primary school, Northern Region, Ghana.
Ghana is very close to achieving MDG 2, but is beginning to face many challenges. Free compulsory basic education now covers 11 years of a child’s education. Gross enrolments rates are more than 100% nationally, while gross admission rates are above 90%. The extensive growth in basic education has reached a limit and services cannot be stretched much further.
Paulina Okine P2 teacher – Abetifi DA primary, Eastern Region, Ghana.
The government is providing upgrading knowledge of teachers through in-service courses, and refresher programmes. In addition, the government is providing free uniforms, exercise books and textbooks for children in deprived communities. The school feeding programme is enhancing the enrolment and retention of children in schools.
Yesso Jean-Marie Bogui Primary 6 teacher – BAD primary school, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast has adopted the resolutions of the World Forum of Education for All (Dakar, 2000). The country has rehabilitated many schools, decentralised and renewed the school administration system, and started giving free schoolbooks. New teachers’ colleges were set up. Parents’ management committees were given more responsibilities. Appeals were made to international bodies such as Unicef, Unesco and the World Food Programme (for school canteens). Social mobilisation was intensified to encourage girls to come to school and not drop out.
Despite these efforts, Ivory Coast is still far from achieving the MDGs, because of the lack of resources but also because of a worsening of the social climate since 2002.
Francis Kiyanja DDE, history and Christian religious education teacher – Pioneer high school, Namungo, Mityana, Uganda
Here in Uganda we already have universal primary education and now it is being introduced to secondary schools, too. Because the government has few secondary schools, it has begun entering into partnerships with private schools to pay fees for students. The government is acting like a parent to those students. The system isn’t perfect yet, and there are lots of challenges. Teachers in government schools are often paid late, which causes big problems. I would say we are 50% of the way there but there is still a lot to be done.
Gouana Zamble-Tralou Primary 2 teacher – Agbekoi primary school, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Ivory Coast is committed to reforms in the education sector. The country now provides free education, with free textbooks. Registration fees have been abolished; corporal punishment made illegal. There is an emphasis and training on child rights.
Efforts are being made in teacher training and recruitment; the construction and rehabilitation of classrooms; involvement of parents; and the establishment of clubs for mothers of schoolgirls.
It is possible to achieve MDG2 by 2015 with the support of the international community including UN agencies such as Unicef and international NGOs such as Save the Children.
John Lubakare Manase Mathematics and science teacher – Juba One boys basic school, Juba, South Sudan
My country has taken some steps to achieve MDG2 by declaring free primary education since the end of the war in 2005. However, MDG2 will not be achieved despite the efforts to increase enrolment and improve quality.
The facilities are not enough. Most children still learn under trees. And there are very few tertiary institutions to improve the quality of the teachers and teaching in general.