Education and development in Sub-Saharan Africa: the operation and impact of education systems
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The essence of the problem facing education systems in Africa is that the expansion of enrolments, in response to public demand, is exceeding the capacity of African economies to maintain educational quality. The gap in learning achievements between African students and those of the industrial countries is widening to unbridgeable proportions. This extent of educational deficiency has implications for the state of health, fertility and agricultural productivity of the populace and threatens a condition of perpetual intellectual dependency. There is an empirical relationship between educational attainment and the increase in human well-being and potential but much remains to be learned about its precise magnitude and the mechanisms that can strengthen it. Associated with the practical problem of inadequate basic education and the research problems of incomplete understanding is a shortage of trained analysts and researchers that make up the problem-solving capability of the African nations. The significance of education in the debate about the means of fostering improvement in Africa lies in the demonstrated relationship between education and different forms of economic and social development. From the standpoint of this evidence, it is the low level of investment in human resources that accounts for much of the stagnation and decline that are afflicting most African countries. Despite impressive expansion of education enrolments in the last twenty-five years, there is a need for more education. The urgent questions facing African governments and donor agencies are what kind of education should be provided, what policies should govern its provision, and how can it be financed? This paper offers a broad review of the condition of education in Africa in an attempt to provide information and insight that can assist in thinking about these questions and about the ways in which education can contribute to development on the continent.