Overcoming the obstacles to EFA

Caillods, Françoise; Poisson, Muriel; Talbot, Christopher
Association for the Development of Education in Africa
Research papers IIEP
43 p.

Online version

About the publication

Over the past years, great efforts have been made to increase children's access to education in Africa. A number of countries have succeeded in significantly increasing the number of children enrolled over the course of very few years. They have done so by abolishing school fees and encouraging the development of community schools, and/or by recruiting teachers at lower costs. More funds have been mobilized for education and national and international development. On the whole, countries spent a lot more on education in 2002 than they did in 1990 and this trend is expected to accelerate. These examples illustrate that when there is political will, it is possible to increase education provision and access relatively quickly with the support of the international community. The challenge now is to increase the quality of education. A closer scrutiny of enrolment statistics in countries with high gross enrolment ratios shows, however, that a relatively high proportion of school-age children still do not have access to primary education. This proportion may vary between 30 per cent and 60 per cent of the lowest income group. Some serious external factors to the immediate scope of action of ministries of education are preventing fulfillment of the objective of Education for All (EFA). These are extreme poverty, HIV and AIDS, conflict and emergency situations, and corruption and ineffective use of resources. This paper analyses how each of these factors can slow down or even prevent the implementation of EFA and provides some suggestions on how to tackle such problems. The attention of policymakers and agencies has to be drawn to the case of the least privileged sections of the population (the poor, AIDS orphans and victims of numerous conflicts), and special measures have to be devised and difficult decisions made if Education for All is to become a reality. It is a challenge for governments and educators to provide equal learning opportunities for all. It is a further challenge for governments to tackle the issue of ineffective use of resources and corruption. This will require serious political will, collaboration among various ministries and actors in society, and support from the international community.