Mohammed Uriel Hadebbe

Johannesburg, South Africa – The Pan-African Parliament has sounded the alarm on Africa’s education status, urging member states to address the “unenviable statistics” that will affect the continent’s future.

Speaking at a workshop on the African Union’s 2024 theme, “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century,” President Chief Fortune Charumbira acknowledged progress made in increasing access to education but lamented that the continent still faces significant challenges.

“Hon. Members, Ladies and Gentlemen, It would be remiss of me not to begin by acknowledging the efforts made by our Member States to ensure access, completion, and quality of basic education for all. While these strides are commendable, it is sad to note that in this 21st century, Africa still faces the most significant challenges globally in the education sector. Some of the gains that Africa had made were reversed by the onset of the Covid-19, ” he said.

Despite improvements in primary and secondary education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), and adult literacy, the COVID-19 pandemic has reversed gains, leaving 98 million children out of school and a learning poverty rate of 90% in sub-Saharan Africa.

Charumbira emphasized that Africa needs 17 million additional teachers and an estimated $40 billion to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030. He urged member states to address structural barriers and invest in robust and inclusive education systems aligned with market and societal needs.

The benefits of investing in education cannot be overstated, even amidst competing crises like inflation, energy, food security, and climate change. The parliament hopes the workshop will yield strong recommendations to strengthen support for the African Union in addressing education deficiencies.

Delegates from across Africa attended the workshop, which aimed to enhance visibility on the theme and contribute to building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.

The Pan-African Parliament’s call to action comes as a wake-up call to Africa’s leaders to prioritize education and ensure a brighter future for the continent’s youth. As Charumbira emphasized, “This is a crisis that is too severe to ignore.”