According to a new report by Global Campaign for Education (GCE), a coalition of organizations in 100 countries in the world calling for increase in provision of education for children, achieving basic education for many African countries remains far from reality. The report titled; Back to School? The worst places in the world to be a school child in 2010, looked at population without access to universal basic education, political will, quality and equal opportunities for education.
Of the sixty developing countries with education gaps, Uganda was in the 46th position, Rwanda 25, Kenya 11, Tanzania and Burundi both at 37.
In the East African community, Kenya and Rwanda are doing fairly better than Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania and the reason has been put as existence of political will to achieve basic education for all.
In Burundi 38 percent of children as of 2008 had not complete primary education while 93 percent had no secondary education.
For Uganda, 43 of children had not acquired primary education while for 78 percent secondary education remains an elusive dream.
Tanzania had better indicators for primary school having only 13 percent not completing primary education but its commitment to education is questioned with 92 of its children having not made it to post primary education.
The report shows that while there has been progress in primary education, only one country in Africa has more than 50 percent of its children in secondary school.
Uganda had the lowest public expenditure on education in the region.
Rwanda and Kenya were shown to have made tremendous progress. Rwanda commits about 20 percent of its annual budget to education.
The report looked at political will in terms of how much of the total government expenditure between 2007-8 was spent on education and also supplementary but essential interventions like free school meals for children.
In Uganda, in June, the country was shocked to learn that about Ushs.16 billion allocated to the education ministry had been untouched for a year due to lack of systems in districts and bureaucracy.
Even though the budget allocation for education has increased over the last four years sh633.43b in 2005/2006 financial year to sh1.1trillion this year, there is still lack of support for children especially the girl child which has led to high school dropout rate.
Government in Uganda passed the Education Act in 2008 which makes primary education compulsory but enforcement remains a challenge.
The report puts Somalia as the worst place in the world to be school child further highlighting the impact of conflict on education.
In most of Northern Uganda where the communities are emerging out of conflict, children do not stay at school for long due to hunger and many girls are pulled out of school to carry out farming to support families at worst they are married off.
The report was released at a meeting on the sidelines of the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown:
“We should work to fast track education initiatives so that in places with conflicts education is available to the young at the frontiers in the same way as medicine is available. We have to make sure that the two million teachers that are missing are actually educated and trained for the task that lies ahead.”
Although development aid has more than doubled since 2000 when the MDG goals were endorsed, aid levels especially to support basic education in sub Saharan Africa are still far below the estimated needs.
Much as the activist this week will mount pressure on developed countries to honour their aid pledges, the report calls recommends that developing countries must also commit 20 percent of their annual budget to education in order to achieve basic education for all.
And for Africa where the campaign found to have most troubling education in indicators, the education for all target will be one hard to beat.
The report also notes progress in countries like Tanzania, Mozambique and Rwanda.