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Nigeria key to fix learning crisis in Africa

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By Usman Oladimeji

African education ministers reaffirmed dedication to tackle the learning crisis.

During a breakfast meeting at the 2024 Education World Forum held in London, Nigeria’s Education Minister, Tahir Mamman, emphasized the importance of the country taking a leading role in discussions aimed at enhancing basic Literacy and numeracy skills for children across Sub-Saharan Africa. The event was hosted by Human Capital Africa, in partnership with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa. African education ministers and important education partners and stakeholders gathered together to reaffirmed their dedication to addressing the Learning Crisis in the continent.

Mamman said it is crucial to increasing Investment in successful programs across the nation, with the backing of key partners like UNICEF and The World Bank. While the primary emphasis of the program was secondary education, he highlighted the success of the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment Project in 18 Nigerian states, which is backed by the World Bank. This project serves as a model for collaborative programs that can be duplicated at the grassroots level. He also mentioned the significant role played by New Globe Education, a key government partner, in bringing about change in various states in the country.

EKOEXCEL initiative reduced the number of illiterate students.

New Globe’s collaboration with governments has demonstrated that implementing structural changes and specific strategies can result in rapid and substantial enhancements in student academic performance. Also, the EKOEXCEL initiative in Lagos State successfully reduced the number of illiterate students in Primary 2 to 4 by 50% across more than 1,000 public schools within a short span of three years. The Education Partnership Centre introduced the LEARNigeria Remedial Programme (LRP) to tackle fundamental literacy and numeracy challenges. LRP facilitates skill development in children by initiating instruction at their current level and utilizing assessment information to create customized teaching strategies.

After just three and a half weeks of remediation, children’s literacy and numeracy skills have seen a marked improvement according to initial outcomes. The focus for The Education Partnership Centre moving forward is on bolstering Teacher Professional Development to better cater to the needs of students, he explained. African leaders and development partners at the event emphasized the importance of using evidence-based methods to shape policy, measurement, and accountability. They urged all stakeholders to expand successful educational programs, like structured teaching methods and Teaching-at-the-Right-Level, to increase effectiveness and efficiency in implementation.

Education ministers are resolved to increase collaboration.

Leaders in the continent and partners have shown a steadfast dedication to addressing the learning crisis by expanding successful interventions. In Nigeria, the Teaching-at-the-Right-Level program has effectively closed learning gaps in Grades 4-6 by categorizing children based on their learning abilities instead of traditional grading systems. The severity of the learning crisis in the region was highlighted during the event. Statistics revealed that a staggering 90% of students in the continent are missing fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, which is impeding their advancement in education, preparedness for the workforce, and contribution to Economic Development.

Government officials and collaborators are dedicated to utilizing the African Union Year of Education by attending the AU Mid-Year Coordination Meetings in Accra, Ghana in July 2024, and the FLEX ADEA High-Level Policy Dialogue in Kigali, Rwanda in November. The goal is to continue advocating for changes in Basic Education and expanding effective programs. Numerous education ministers in the continent are resolved to increase their collaboration with non-governmental organizations in the field of education, dedicating additional resources and effort to improve the academic performance of African youth.

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In Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a significant learning crisis where most children lack basic literacy and numeracy skills. Only 10% of ten-year-olds are able to read or do simple math. To address this crisis, it is crucial to focus on enhancing the employability of young people through the acquisition of relevant skills. This transformative process can begin with the integration of digital technologies in classrooms. Investing in education in Sub-Saharan Africa has the power to unleash Economic Growth and drive development in the region.


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