This week running from April 22-28th is the Global Action Week for Education. The theme of this year is a continuation of last year’s effort to focus on accountability and citizen participation toward the United Nations (UN) 4th Sustainable Goal for Development (SGD4) with the theme “Strengthening Citizens’ Participation and Accountability in Education Management; A milestone for Achieving SDG4” and the tagline, “Keep Your Promises”. The aim is to ensure that governments honour the pledges they have made to fund this goal. The focus on education is important, as it is the foundation with which to achieve many of the other sustainable development goals.
SGD4 is the goal for Education which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning. The goal is specifically looking to improve these efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia and within vulnerable populations such as those with disabilities, refugees, or who face extreme poverty.
There have been significant improvements in enrollment but in the least developed countries enrollment as of 2014 was only 4 in 10, with only 63% enrollment in upper secondary education. This needs to change. In addition, it has been noticed that although more students are attending school, students aren’t achieving basic numeracy and literacy levels. In more than 1/3 of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America less than half of the students after finishing their primary education had attained sufficient proficiency in mathematics.
One of the biggest challenges to overcome is the lack of equity. In the countries that have collected data, the students in the wealthiest 20% of households had higher literacy skills than the 20% poorest and in most countries, children living in urban areas also had higher reading proficiency.
In Malawi, the Civil Society Coalition on Education (CSEC) Coordinator, Benedicto Kondowe, talked about the new education tax that is being introduced to help fund the education sector. Ghana’s Director General of Ghana Education Service, Prof. Kwasi Opoku – Amankwah spoke out in strong support of this initiative this week, saying that to make improvements in education requires the collaboration of government, stakeholders in education. In addition, it necessitates greater citizen engagement and participation through advocacy, identifying problems and proposing solutions. Prof. Addae-Mensah from Ghana is asking the government to find a sustainable solution to fund free Senior High School in the country. The Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI), Maxwell Rafomoyo also spoke on the importance of holding their government accountable for financing education. In Nigeria, the Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All (CSACEFA) held a one day event to commemorate the week on the 24th of April, 2018 where participants were drawn from all works of life including the Minister of Education (represented). It was generally agreed that the government, CSOs and citizens of Nigeria must work together in a transparent manner in order to achieve the SDG4. There was a clarion call for the government to be transparent and accountable to the people.
All of these actions help keep education at the forefront of our collective consciousness and government policy. We all need to work together within our communities, as nations, and globally to ensure that the children of today are prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.
Justice for the victims of the recent building collapse in Lagos