Quality of education in Africa: 15 Ministers met in Paris to review progress made

IIEP hosted the 8th SACMEQ Assembly of Ministers

In recent years, Africa and more particularly sub-Saharan countries have made significant progress in terms of schooling and provision of education. Where do they stand on quality? Recent findings show mixed results. IIEP, together with the 15 countries* that constitute the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ), tracked the result of policy actions to achieve EFA and improve the quality of learning for boys and girls at the end of primary education: pupil achievements, learning outcomes, equity, teacher knowledge, and HIV-AIDS-prevention education programmes are among the challenges SACMEQ countries are facing.

The findings of SACMEQ III Project

The SACMEQ III Project, conducted between 2000 and 2007, collected data from around 60,000 pupils, 8,000 teachers and 2,800 school heads. The first results released this year raised serious issues. They showed that: 

  • Only five countries registered substantial improvements for both reading and mathematics.
  • There is a low level of knowledge about HIV-AIDS, indicating that prevention programmes are not working effectively in nearly all the SACMEQ countries.
  • There have been improvements in providing education for all, although expanded enrolment has not been matched with improvements in the quality of learning outcome; the gender gap in learning outcomes has also remained intact.
  • There have been variations in the achievement levels of pupils across provinces depending on the rural/urban location of schools, and socio-economic background of pupils.
  • Pupils who had attended preschool tended to perform better.
  • There was a positive correlation between the subject matter knowledge of teachers and the performance of their pupils.

Deeply committed to build on these findings, the 15 Ministers of Education of SACMEQ met at IIEP (Paris, France) on 22 and 23 October to discuss these issues, to review progress made and to plan further research, training and monitoring programmes. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO attended the meeting and deliver the opening speech.


SACMEQ is a successful model of South-South cooperation which benefits from IIEP support and funds from the Netherlands Government. The cooperation has focused on delivery of training and research programmes aimed at developing the capacities of educational planners and researchers in the Ministries of Education.

SAMEQ is moving now towards a fruitful collaboration with the CONFEMEN Programme on the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC). This new partnership will deepen the knowledge of African education systems and shows the strong commitment of the whole continent toward quality education for all.

* Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania (Mainland), Tanzania (Zanzibar), Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.