4 out of 5
children in Sub-Saharan Africa
do not access early learning
African children and adolescents are still out of school
of the primary schoolstudents do not complete their schooling
More than 38 million
Schools for Africa supports UNICEF education projects across 13 countries in Sub-Saharan and West Africa, where two out of five children do not have access to primary school.
Due to poverty, illness, disability, armed conflict, natural disaster, gender inequity or simply because they live in remote rural areas, as many as half of all primary school pupils drop out of school.
Each UNICEF country programme has its education priorities based on local realities, but the overall goal remains the same: to enroll children into school and keep them there – to give children, their families and communities the chance for a better future.
Although Niger now enjoys a very high general enrolment ratio of 99.2 per cent, efforts to reach universal access to primary education is hampered by disparities between regions as well as disparities between vulnerable populations including girls, disabled and nomadic children.
Moreover, drop outs remain the main factor affecting universal completion of quality primary education.
In 2014, UNICEF continued to work on increasing access to education, improving the quality of service delivery and the level of learning achievements, improving the governance of education, and strengthening the education system’s resilience to natural disasters and emergencies.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Niger
In Burkina Faso, one out of every three school-aged children does not attend school. This is due in part to poverty, particularly in rural areas. Most parents cannot afford to send their children to school, many do not value education.
Some traditional practices also prevent children from attending school, particularly girls. Between 1986 and 2004, 52,000 children under 15 underwent forced or early marriage, taking them out of the school system.
UNICEF supports Early Childhood Development as well as girls’ access to basic formal and non-formal education. This is meant to ensure access to quality education for all children.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Burkina Faso
In Mali, some 40 per cent of children do not have a chance to study. Narrowing the gender gap and improving the quality of education remain key challenges.
UNICEF Mali supports local education authorities and community organizations for 400 schools to ensure that all children have access to school. In 40 of these sites, the focus is on Early Childhood Development, Non-Formal Education and primary school enrolment for children who have missed out on education.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Mali
Achieving universal education for all remains a massive challenge for Guinea-Bissau. More than 45 per cent of school-aged children do not have access to school owing to the lack of infrastructure and of qualified teachers.
Some 60 per cent of teachers have no teaching skills. The inadequate curriculum, school manuals and infrastructure contribute to high drop-out and repetition rates, especially for girls. Despite the positive evolution in the reduction of the gap between girls and boys, gender discrimination is a reality in schools, families and communities.
More than 32 per cent of girls drop out against 21 per cent of boys. Only 12 per cent of girls complete their school’s primary cycle against 18 per cent of boys.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Guinea Bissao
Despite a complex, post-conflict implementation environment, Sierra Leone has witnessed significant improvements in its education sector. Soon after the civil war, only about 55 per cent of students were completing primary school. Now 76 per cent of children complete primary school and 77 per cent of them transit to junior secondary (2010).
Amongst many other activities, UNICEF Sierra Leone supports the development of a new Education Sector Plan and provides assistance in the development of the National Curriculum for Basic Education.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Sierra Leone
In Angola, the seventh-largest country in Africa, four decades of armed conflict is still visible despite the country’s rapid economic growth resulting from its vast petroleum reserves. While the national wealth is mostly concentrated among a small proportion of the population located primarily in the cities, one out of every three Angolan children is living in poverty, generally in underdeveloped rural areas.
Angola was one of the first countries to join the Schools for Africa initiative in 2005. In the beginning, the UNICEF education programme in the country focused on supporting school construction and rehabilitation; promoting health activities, such as deworming; and helping to train teachers and school principals. The programme also supported the development of learning opportunities for adolescents who were not enrolled in
schools, for instance, through professional training.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Angola
Despite its economic growth, in South Africa, one out of three persons live below the poverty line.
Uneven access to essential social services such as quality education, remains a major source of inequality.
One of UNICEF’s priority in South Africa’s is to make early learning accessible to at least 70 per cent of children under five, apply child-friendly school standards to 12,000 schools and double students proficiency in literacy and numeracy in grade 3 and 6.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in South Africa
In Zimbabwe, primary school enrolment remains high with over 90 per cent of children re-enrolled in school. Yet, quality of education remains a major challenge, evidenced by the fact that almost 60 per cent of pupils do not pass their exams and cannot move on to secondary school.
More than one million young people of secondary school age are out of school and have few prospects of finding a job. Although there is gender parity at the primary level, only 35 per cent of pupils in upper secondary are girls. School fees and levies have disadvantaged the poorest children.
In Zimbabwe, UNICEF is focusing on improving learning and teaching materials, supporting teachers’ training, help motivate teachers and encourage the adoption of the Child Friendly School model.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Zimbabwe
In Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the world, the combination of school fees abolishment, free-textbooks, investments in schools and teachers, has resulted in a major boost in primary and secondary school enrolments. From 3.6 million in 2003, it reached 6.7 million by 2014. Primary school enrolment is at a high 97 per cent, and the intake of children aged 6 years old has significantly improved, as has gender parity in both primary and secondary enrolment.
Yet, the quality of schooling and completion rates remain a problem. Currently the UNICEF education programme in Mozambique focuses in supporting the development of strategies, policies and minimum standards to deliver quality education. UNICEF also invest in interventions to increase access to schools in underserved districts.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Mozambique
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world: in 2013, 91 per cent of its 21 million people lived on less than US$2 per day. The country is emerging from a prolonged political crisis accompanied by socio-economic decline and a deterioration of social services.
Over 1.5 million school-aged children are currently out of school, and only three out of every ten children who enrolled, complete their primary school. The major bottlenecks and barriers to education include outdated curricula, poorly trained teachers and the low quality of instruction.
Early learning, access and quality of schooling are two priorities for UNICEF Madagascar.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Madagascar
Half of Malawi’s 16 million population lives in poverty. The country’s population is very young: 46 per cent of people are 14 years or younger.
Since 2009, Malawi faced political and economic challenges, resulting in increased prices. Political tension and shortfalls in the public financial management led to a withdrawal of donor funds and Malawi is facing serious challenges.
The UNICEF education programme focuses on improving education access and the quality of schooling. Several initiatives help improve gender parity and introduce life-skills education, including knowledge about HIV.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Malawi
Rwanda has achieved impressive development progress since the 1994 genocide and civil war. It is now consolidating gains in social development and accelerating growth.
Considerable progress has been made in terms of access to primary education and the net enrolment rate is currently 97 per cent. However, disparities in access to education persist for certain groups of children, including girls, children with disabilities, children living in rural areas and children from the poorest households.
UNICEF-Rwanda’s current interventions focus on reaching those children who are most disadvantaged and building an inclusive and effective education system for all children.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Rwanda
Surrounded by countries in conflicts, more than 600,000 refugees lived in Ethiopia in 2014 alone. The country’s population of more than nine million is highly diverse and includes over 80 different ethnic groups and about 90 individual languages are spoken.
In Ethiopia, UNICEF is focusing its efforts on accelerated access to integrated early learning, increase access to primary education for the out-of-school children, quality teaching at all levels of education, and expanding access to secondary education with a special focus on equity and disadvantaged girls.
Learn more about UNICEF education programme in Ethiopia