What we do
Find out how UNICEF is driving change in education for children and young people in sub-Saharan Africa.
Schools for Africa (SFA) is a global initiative working for quality education across sub-Saharan Africa. The mission is to make sure all children are learning and gaining the skills for success in life and work. Founded in 2004 by three partners with exceptional vision and commitment to education in Africa: the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Peter Kramer Foundation and UNICEF, the initiative has raised over US $300 million for education reaching more than 30 million children with better access to primary school. Building on this success our new phase started in 2018, focuses on quality learning outcomes for children by: (i) creating systematic, sustainable change in the education pathway for children: from early learning to primary and onwards to secondary education; (ii) targeting vulnerable groups including adolescent girls and children with disabilities, so that no child is left behind.
This work is aligned to the global UNICEF Strategy on Education 2019-2030.
COVID-19 shut down schools across 20 out of 21 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. More than 127 million pre-primary, primary, and secondary school students were shut out of schools. We estimate that 75 million of them are still not -schooling by end of July 2020.
Africa is on the move. The continent has some of the fastest growing economies in the world and is beginning to shape a new future with a growing adolescent population. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 50 per cent of the population is younger than 18, and by 2050, the child population is projected to increase by two thirds and reach 940 million. These numbers offer a unique opportunity to leverage the skills, resources and capacities of millions of children and adolescents.
Fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals will yield over US$1 trillion by 2030 for the private sector, potentially unlocking 85 million jobs across diverse industries, according to current estimates. Investing in quality education for children and adolescents is one of the most astute investments today as the returns will multiply economic growth and social welfare for generations to come.
The opportunity to invest in African children and adolescents is time bound. Across the continent, without targeted investment in the right areas, the risk is that recent social and economic progress will unravel resulting in high unemployment rates, costly dependencies and social unrest, and continue the cycle of poverty.
More than 124 million young people are at risk of being denied access to schools. And those in school are not adequately learning. It is estimated that one in three children who complete primary school does not learn the basics in literacy and numeracy. Without these and requisite life skills, youth cannot navigate the 21st century world of work and therefore are not able to compete locally or in the global market.
Children and young people are, quite simply, not adequately prepared for the major shifts in the labour market.
An investment of just US$22 per capita each year in secondary school education can generate economic benefits of about 12 times the cost by 2030.
The programme approach
Quality education that leads to learning is now firmly on the Global Agenda. SDG 4 is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Focus regions and countries
Key criteria were used to determine the set of focus countries for Schools for Africa, thereby ensuring maximum impact for children and for partners. These criteria include investment needs, the context of each country to deliver results, and the current and projected child population growth.
Burundi, Botswana, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda