Urgent action is needed to get every child in school and learning

Africa’s education crisis demands the urgent attention of political leaders and their aid partners. The target of universal primary education by 2015 is likely to be missed by a wide margin, leaving millions of children out of school. Meanwhile, many of the children in school are receiving an education of such poor quality that they are learning very little.

Africa also has some of the world’s most glaring education inequalities. All too often, children who are born poor, female, or in rural or conflict-affected regions, face extreme disadvantage in education.

When all children have an equal chance to obtain quality education, learning drives economic growth, fuels innovation and creates jobs. It equips countries – and people – with the skills they need to escape from poverty and build shared prosperity. It enables people to build more secure livelihoods, enjoy better health and participate in political processes that affect their lives.

For all these reasons, every African government needs to redouble its efforts to ensure that all children are in school by 2015. As the Africa Progress Panel has outlined in a policy paper, A Twin Education Crisis is Holding Back Africa, far greater attention must be directed towards the quality of education and learning achievement. And governments need to put equity at the centre of their education strategies.