Maintaining Universal Primary Education

Maintaining Universal Primary Education

Lessons from Commonwealth Africa You do not have access to this content

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Commonwealth Secretariat
01 June 2009
9781848590458 (PDF)

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Every country that has worked towards, and then attained, universal primary education has celebrated that achievement as a great step forward. Maintaining universal primary education, once achieved, offers new challenges, examined in this book. Lalage Bown and her co-researchers from the Council for Education in the Commonwealth explore the various economic, political and social pressures which may affect the progress of educational provision, as well as the different national educational policies and strategies themselves, as they play out in five very different Commonwealth African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. The contributors’ findings will inform the decisions of both national and international education policy-makers working to ensure that universal primary education becomes, and remains, a reality across Africa.

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  • Foreword

    There has been remarkable progress towards some of the EFA goals since the international community made its commitments in Dakar in 2000. Some of the world’s poorest countries have demonstrated that political leadership and practical policies make a difference. It is evident that far more needs to be done to get all children into school through primary education and beyond.Whereas many Commonwealth member countries have put in place accelerated measures towards achieving the two education MDGs, they cannot neglect the need for approaches that will sustain UPE well beyond the target deadline of 2015.

  • List of abbreviations
  • Introduction and acknowledgements

    In 1960, a year after the first Commonwealth Conference on Education (now the CCEM), members of the United Nations committed themselves to achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 1980. At that time, and with many nations energised by a new release from colonial rule, the goal seemed not only desirable, but also achievable.

  • Ghana – Towards FCUBE (Free and Compulsory Universal Basic Education)

    This first case-study takes the recent educational history of Ghana, the earliest African country to regain independence from British rule and the one with, at the time, the strongest economy. It focuses on the experience of Ghana in developing and implementing strategies to achieve Universal Primary Education – UP(B)E. It maps the period from the 1950s to the present in terms of progress, achievements, external and internal drivers and factors that contributed to success and later regression in different aspects of UP(B)E. Based on this discussion, the study identifies particular areas, old and new, where ongoing efforts need to be made to achieve UPE goals, in terms of both enrolment and progression and with increased emphasis on quality.

  • Kenya's three initiatives in UPE

    Since gaining independence in December 1963, Kenya has pursued a deliberate strategy that emphasised education as the key factor to development. Indeed, The Kenya Constitution, Sessional Paper No. 10 on African Socialism and various national development plans, recognised education as a means for promoting national integration among the various tribes and ethnic groups in Kenya1. Education was seen as a catalyst for political, economic and social advancement for individuals, through which human capital accumulation, essential for economic growth and national development could be attained. This belief made it imperative that Kenya had to pursue policies geared to the expansion and improvement of education for leaders of independent Kenya to sustain their political leadership.

  • Regaining momentum towards UPE in Zambia

    Zambia gained independence from British colonial rule in 1964. In that year, the Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in primary schools was estimated at about 58 per cent. Between then and 2004, 40 years, the population grew by a factor of three from 3.7 to11.5 million people, while enrolments in the country’s primary schools grew by a factor of 5.9, from 378,417 to 2,251,000 pupils. By 2004 then, the estimated GER had in fact reached 99.9 per cent with a gender parity index (GPI) of 0.96 – a more than creditable achievement.

  • UPE and UBE in a federal system

    The three previous chapters have provided in-depth and detailed studies of the UPE experience of three countries, one from Western, one from Eastern and one from Southern Africa. This chapter and the next are designed to add two outlines – of Nigeria as the most populous African country and Tanzania as a case where scarce resources did not inhibit educational development. For reasons of time and resource constraints, these two cases were not studied so deeply, but the research team believe that the narratives that follow will enrich and illuminate the whole issue of sustaining and maintaining UPE.

  • Sustaining UPE against the odds in Tanzania

    This study refers basically to experience in Mainland Tanzania. The Zanzibar education system is separately administered from education on the Mainland, where 97 per cent of the population resides. UNESCO data aggregates information for the two constituent parts of the Union but most of the reports and monographs on education in Tanzania confine their discussion to the situation on the Mainland. In the present study, wherever it is known that observations and data apply to Zanzibar as well as the Mainland, that fact is made known.

  • Lessons for the future
  • Appendix: Growth in GER
  • Sources and references
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