GCE Africa Region: news round-up
TANZANIA: Breaking down barriers to education in Tanzania
Tanzania has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world. Almost two out of five girls in Tanzania are married before their 18th birthday, and it is particularly prevalent in rural areas where children get married as early as 11 years old. GCE’s Tanzanian member TEN/MET (Tanzania Education Network/Mtandao Wa Elimu Tanzania) has long campaigned for an end to child marriage, which is a key barrier to girls’ access to education. Out-of-school girls are more vulnerable to child marriage, and early pregnancy and child marriage can also force girls out of school. For last year’s International Day of the Girl, the coalition held an event in Singida – a province where violation of girls’ rights is sadly all too common. Nearly 1,000 students took part, with girls holding placards telling parents they wanted an education, not an early marriage. The message made the headlines, and added to the coalition’s earlier successful campaign on helping girls get back into the formal education system. This resulted in the Education Ministry adopting a policy on school re-entry for girls who have dropped out of school, primarily due to pregnancy.
Onto another success story from our Tanzanian coalition! During last year’s Global Action Week for Education, TEN/MET campaigned around the need for more education financing for children with disabilities. Now, for the very first time, the government has included an amount specifically for children with disabilities in the 2016/2017 budget - 16 billion Tanzanian shillings (c. US$ 7 million).
Check out TEN/MET’s short videos on early marriage and education financing for children with disabilities.
BURKINA FASO: Traditional leaders and civil society united in the fight for education
Mining, in particular gold mining, plays a significant part in Burkina Faso’s economy. Tragically, child labour is common practice at informal mining sites. In seeking to support themselves and their families, thousands of Burkinabe children are working instead of going to school.
As part of its advocacy for children's right to education, a delegation from GCE’s member network Coalition Nationale pour l’Education Tous du Burkina Faso (CNEPT) was received by a traditional leader in Bobo-Dioulasso known as a 'chef de canton'. The chief welcomed the engagement of civil society, and announced that he was committed to the coalition’s fight for inclusive, equitable and quality education. For him and his predecessors, education is essential for the harmonious evolution of society. Furthermore, the chief is committed to working with the authorities and communities to achieving the 2030 Education Agenda in Burkina Faso.
The delegation took advantage of this tour to disseminate its three-year action plan 2016-2018, in alignment with GCE’s ambitious Civil Society for Education Fund programme, as well as materials displaying its key message: The government must invest more resources in education now. It’s the only way the next generation can be equipped with the skills necessary to contribute to the development of their country.
GHANA: Ghana to make secondary education free in 2017, yet delivery at all levels remains a challenge
In February 2017, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo announced that implementation of the Free Secondary Education policy (or ‘Free SHS policy’) would begin in September 2017. This was one of the major promises made by the new government during the electoral campaign. If successfully rolled out, it would challenge the misconception that education is the preserve of the elite in society. The President of the National Association of Graduate Teachers, Christian Addae-Poku, has lauded this step forward for the right to education in Ghana:
“As a teacher, l know the trauma students go through when they are sacked out of the classroom for non-payment of fees. I know how students are psychologically affected when they come to school on an empty stomach. This policy will take away these burdens.”
The announcement generated a lot of discussion and speculation among the public and the media about the cost of implementation, source of funds and sustainability over the long-term. Finally in March, the Minister of Finance presented the budget to Parliament which provided some information about how this policy would be paid for: Funds were expected to come from petroleum and taxation revenues.
Ghana National Education Campaign Coalition (GNECC) assess budget
On analysis, however, GCE’s national coalition in Ghana GNECC found that the budget was inadequate. Furthermore, there was no provision for absorbing the excess number of students expected to enrol. Additionally, the policy will be rolled out universally, meaning there will be no distinction between students who can afford to pay and those cannot, and worse still is that students who go to the well-resourced government secondary schools tend to come from wealthier backgrounds. Students from poorer backgrounds often end up in schools with fewer resources, or have to resort to private schools which will admit them regardless of their certification grades as long as their fees are paid. The government has so far not provided a plan to ensure that the resources go to those schools and pupils who need them most.
Government pledges to taken on board civil society’s views
Meanwhile, while the government is making free secondary education a priority, many challenges remain at the primary level. The poor state of infrastructure, inadequate teaching and learning materials and low quality outcomes are some of the issues highlighted in GNECC’s assessment. The coalition issued its findings and a series of recommendations to the government – which include the need to learn from past mistakes and tackle inequality in education. This has generated significant media coverage, and was referenced during the parliamentary budget debate. The Minister of Education has committed to consider the issues raised, and discussions on the policy are ongoing. Civil society is playing a key role in holding the government to account for its promise to provide free, quality, equitable education for all Ghanaians.
TOGO: Sharing information on education policy with those who need it
Since Togo’s latest Education Sector Plan was adopted in 2011, the government and its partners, including GCE's national coalition Coalition Nationale Togolaise pour l'Education Pour Tous (CNT/EPT), has produced a review every year to assess progress and challenges in aligning it to international development goals (such as the SDGs). CNT/EPT felt that a summary of these reviews - as well as key information that wasn't included - should be made available to all government ministries, NGOs and most importantly citizens - like students, parents and teachers. The document also stresses that it's the State's responsibility to ensure the right to education is delivered for all Togolese, as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.
"Thanks to CNT/EPT, I've just learned what the Education Sector Plan review actually is!", said a secondary school inspector from the Maritime region.
"Today I've learned about the sector review and realised that, as a student, the Education Sector Plan affects me", remarked a student.
The coalition was able to gather testimonies and, above all, opinions, concerns, questions and recommendations from actors at the grassroots level. These will be forwarded to the authorities and should be taken into account in time for the next review this year. UNICEF has committed to reproduce 5,000 copies of the booklet which the coalition will distribute in rural areas, where teachers are less likely to have this kind of information. Going forward, CNT/EPT intends to repeat this initiative after each sectoral review in order to help better inform the public and the education community throughout Togo.
See this article (in French) for more details
1) Burkina Faso coalition meets chef de canton. credit: Coalition Nationale pour l’Education Tous du Burkina Faso (CNEPT)
2) March organised by Tanzanian coalition. credit: TEN/MET (Tanzania Education Network/Mtandao Wa Elimu Tanzania)
3) Workshop on Education Sector Plan in Togo. credit: Coalition Nationale Togolaise pour l'Education Pour Tous (CNT/EPT)