Sunday June 16, 2024: World Day of the African Child

Sunday June 16, 2024: World Day of the African Child
Sunday June 16, 2024: World Day of the African Child
The world is celebrating the Day of the African Child this Sunday, June 16, 2024; The theme this year is “Education for all children in Africa: the time has come” On this occasion, UNICEF publishes new analysis on education financing which shows that most African countries are not meeting their commitments to allocate 20% of their national budgets to education, as recommended in the Action Framework for the Goals sustainable development for education.

Nine of 49 African countries – less than one in 5 – have devoted 20% or more of their public spending to education, while 24 countries have committed to dedicating at least 15% of their national budget to education and that six countries devoted less than 10% of their national budget to education.

Education is essential to develop the human capital necessary for the continent’s prosperity. Education financing is a major problem on the African continent, leaving millions of children unable to learn the fundamental skills needed for their future prosperity and that of their country. Despite considerable progress by African governments in increasing primary and lower secondary enrollment over the past decade, schools are underfunded, classes are overcrowded and teachers are in short supply – many of them lacking adequate training and skills.

Low learning outcomes remain a serious concern: in Africa, four out of five children aged 10 are unable to read and understand a simple story. As the African Union celebrates 2024 as the Year of Education, there is evidence that:

  • Around US$183 billion is needed each year for children’s education in African countries to achieve the education Sustainable Development Goals, while available resources stand at US$106 billion, which which leaves a financing gap of more than 40%;
  • African governments spend around 2% of their education budget on preschool education, while 20% is spent on tertiary education on average. 13 of 40 governments with available data have not invested any resources in preschool education, while higher education continues to be over-prioritized;
  • In 2022, education spending will on average be lower than pre-COVID-19 levels and equal to levels a decade ago. COVID-19 has led to a significant decline in education spending across the continent, with real per capita education spending in 2022 equal to levels seen in 2012/13.
The need for investment will only increase to meet the demands of a rapidly growing school-age population, with an estimated 1 billion children on the continent by 2050. Without proper attention urgently, the huge funding gap for education will be catastrophic for a generation of students and for the region’s future economic growth and stability.

“Children have the right to a quality education, but education systems do not meet the expectations of too many of them. To avert a development catastrophe in Africa, we urgently need to see a continental revolution where commitments are translated into concrete actions so that children can acquire the basic skills needed to move on to more advanced forms of education. and realize their full potential,” says Etleva Kadilli, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.

One of the most effective and cost-effective solutions is to increase public investments in early childhood, as studies confirm that investments in preschool are among the most impactful that governments can support. Yet early childhood education continues to receive the lowest share of the budget. Children ages 3 to 6 may seem like they are just beginning their lives, but by that time, more than 85% of their brain development is already almost in place. Hence the importance of investing early to give them a chance to get the best start in life.

“More than 100 million children of primary and secondary school age are out of school in Africa. Every child should have the support he or she needs – in learning, acquiring relevant skills and accessing work and other opportunities – to realize their full potential and contribute to building an inclusive, productive and peaceful continent. Achieving such progress requires investing in human capital and promoting accessible, inclusive, affordable and relevant learning opportunities for all African children and youth,” adds Gilles Fagninou, UNICEF Regional Director for Africa. of the West and the Center.

“Across Africa, children, youth and their school communities are affected by emergencies, whether natural or man-made. It is important that leaders, policymakers and communities themselves focus on building resilient and inclusive education systems at all levels that can effectively support the continuity of learning, even in emergency situations and in particularly for the most vulnerable learners. The continent and its children cannot afford further learning loss,” notes Adele Khodr, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Tomorrow, Friday, June 14, the African Union Commission is organizing an education event to commemorate the Day of the African Child 2024. During the event, UNICEF will appeal to Member States of the Union Africa to prioritize preschool and foundational learning for every child and quickly implement the following key actions:

  • Recommit to making education a budget priority and reach the recommended threshold of 20% annual spending on education by 2025.
  • Increasing budgetary attention to early learning and commit to allocating at least 10% of education budgets to preschool education.
  • Leverage public and private international resources, including concessional loans and grants from international financial institutions, innovative financing mechanisms and public-private partnerships. Conversion and use of Special Drawing Rights and negotiation of debt relief directly benefiting education or other avenues of debt restructuring could free up significant resources for education.
  • Strengthening transparency and accountability in planning, budgeting and management of the education system.
  • Improve the efficiency of budgetary allocations, notably by addressing inefficiencies throughout the education spending chain.
  • Invest more in teachers and develop clear plans to fund their recruitment, retention and professional development.
  • Improving equity in education spending and service delivery and ensure that no child is left behind in access to quality learning.
About the Day of the African Child:

The Day of the African Child is a commemoration of the 1976 Soweto Uprising, when students protested against educational injustice and inequality under the apartheid regime. Initiated by the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union), it has been celebrated on June 16 each year since 1991.

The theme for the Day of the African Child in 2024 is “Education for all children in Africa: the time has come”, aligning with the African Union Year of Education which focuses on building resilient education systems to ensure increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa.

Source: unicef.org

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