Challenges Facing the Education System in Senegal

Written by Ruth Lakcia

Education is a fundamental right for all humans around the globe. Regardless of one’s economic or social status,  they should be able to have access to Education. Even though this seems obvious and like common knowledge, it is not the reality for many Senegalese.

Senegal’s history of investing in education and engaging stakeholders in sector dialogue marks the government’s commitment to building a strong education system. Based on the 2019 PASEC assessment, many Senegalese students acquire basic competencies by the end of primary education, but 25% lack minimum proficiency in reading and 35% in math. Significant socioeconomic, rural-urban and regional disparities call for a more equitable and inclusive education system. While minimal learning differences are observed among girls and boys at the primary level, gender disparities emerge in secondary education, with more girls dropping out of school than boys.

Lack of enough qualified teachers

The education system in Senegal faces many challenges, such as a lack of qualified teachers, inadequate equipment and infrastructure, low-quality teaching and assessment, social inequalities and regional disparities. The government is trying to reform and modernise the education sector through various programs and partnerships with international organisations such as UNESCO or UNICEF.

Household poverty in Senegal still has work to do, with only a little over. Educational marginalisation has become a burning issue in Senegal, one of the poorest countries on the planet. About 34% of people in Senegal live on less than US $ 1.25 per day, with an average per capita income of $121 per month (Ibrahima, 2014). The results of the Harmonized Survey on Household Living Conditions (2018/2019) show that the incidence of individual poverty in Senegal is 37.8%. The country is still lagging behind in education. A large part of the population does not have easy access to education and remains marginalised from formal education, with an enrollment rate of 86.4% (ANSD, 2020). Many factors contribute to the exclusion of many young people from the education system, including gender and ICT. Furthermore, languages, particularly the English language, play a role in educational marginalisation in Senegal. What comes next is a brief introduction to the roles of gender, ICT and English in promoting or reducing educational marginalisation in Senegal. 17% gross preschool enrollment rate, but more importantly, dramatically improving quality.

Repetition and dropout in primary school

The overall financial cost of repetition and dropout in Senegal is on an upward trend due to a higher rate of both repetition and dropout. Over the 2012-2015 period, repetition and dropouts represented 13.72% of the expenses incurred by the government. This phenomenon can be explained by several factors, one of which is limited access to quality preschool education.  Senegal still has work to do, with only a little over 17% gross preschool enrollment rate, but more importantly, it needs to improve the quality of education. 

Impact of Covid-19

The pandemic caused by the SARS Covid-19 came to monitor investments made not only in the health sector but also in education and, above all, in the higher education subsystem. The pandemic led governments to close university campuses and suspend face-to-face classes for a considerable period to prevent the virus contamination from spreading. Some countries with the distance learning modality in their school curricula were forced to make it a strategy, intensifying them with the aim of reducing the pedagogical damage that was felt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.In Senegal, the COVID-19 pandemic and national school closures temporarily disrupted the education of 3.5 million learners and the 1.5 million children already out of school, and the dropout rate doubled.

Gender inequality in school

Despite the existence of government programmes- like free public school education until age 16 and the Girls’ Education Support Project, which provides school uniforms- the cost of schooling is still an obstacle for many families. They have to pay for learning materials and transport to school.

We also found a preference to educate boys over girls. In households with limited finances, boys are more likely to be sent to school even if girls would like to go.

Deep-seated cultural beliefs and practices – such as female genital mutilation, forced child marriages and early pregnancies – also prevent some girls from making progress in school. They, therefore, lag in education and wellbeing.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Senegal’s government, therefore, is responsible for extending better social services in schools and hospitals to facilitate development in those areas and hence improve people’s living standards and education for poor kids.

As the government seeks to alleviate the effects of the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasis should be placed on ensuring that systems that are supposed to protect girls and women from child marriages are not compromised. The WASH program has provided 1,884 students access to hygiene and sanitation facilities in 26 schools, of which four were equipped with a menstrual hygiene management system. 1,776 students in 12 schools benefited from the availability of drinking water, which has reduced wash problems in Senegal and their schools.

References

Cover Image by Victor Rutka on Unsplash

Universal Periodic Review of Cambodia

  • Today, the state controls education in Cambodia through the Ministry of Education at the national level and the Department of Education at the provincial level. The Cambodian education system includes preschool, primary, general secondary, tertiary, and vocational education.
  • After finishing primary school, students move on to three years of compulsory lower secondary education. Students then can continue to upper secondary education or enter secondary-level vocational training programs offered by the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training. After completing upper secondary education, students must take a national high school exam. In 2019, approximately 68% of students passed. Students who pass the exam can enrol in two-year associate degree programs, four-year bachelor’s degree programs and seven-year medical degree programs at the university. However, enrolment numbers into tertiary education are low, with only 13% of students entering the university system. All students also can enrol in vocational training programs or associate degrees.
  • In 2017, there were 7,144 primary schools nationwide and an additional ninety-six primary schools for disadvantaged students. In the same period, 46,149 staff members taught 2,022,061 primary school children. Primary education commonly starts at age six and lasts six years.
  • The Secondary Education Improvement Project (SEIP), a World Bank-funded project, has significantly improved lower-secondary education in Cambodia. It has seen increased enrolment in schools, construction of more school buildings, construction of houses for teachers in remote locations, renovation of classrooms, and installation of laboratories.
  • SEIP has trained teachers, community representatives, and people in charge of the management of schools.
  • This review will focus on areas of improvement related to the standard of learning, water and sanitation, impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and gender inequality.

By Ruth Lakica and Enes Gisi

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Cover image by Alan C. on Flickr.

Challenges facing the Education System in Angola

Written by Ruth Lakica

The Cidade Alta in Luanda, Angola, stretches along a ridge lined by pink colonial buildings including the president’s and archbishop’s palaces. Photo by David Stanley on Flickr.

Introduction

Education is a fundamental right for all humans around the globe. Regardless of one’s economic or social status,  they should be able to have access to education. Even though this seems obvious and like common knowledge, it is not the reality for many Angolans. Nevertheless, the government has and is making significant efforts to cab illiteracy.  For instance, in recent years, Angola has significantly reformed its education system, improving literacy and enrollment rates. However, school completion rates indicate high levels of dropout. The Angolan Education Law (2021) makes primary education free and compulsory for six years, but approximately 2 million children are still out of school.  The country’s long-term strategy–Estratégia de Longo Prazo Angola 2025–promotes the human and educational development of the Angolan people.

Conflicts and insecurity

Despite the civil war ending more than 15 years ago, Angola still faces—and will continue to face—challenges in its education system that date back to these years of violence. Primary education in Angola is compulsory and free for four years for children between 7 and 11, but the government estimates that approximately two million children are not attending school.

In areas where classrooms were utterly demolished during the war and have not yet been rebuilt, classes typically are held outside and often must be cancelled due to bad weather. Where classrooms exist, they tend to be overcrowded and undersupplied, with outdated or insufficient books and pencils and not enough desks and chairs.

Lack of enough qualified teachers

Debates about teacher quality lack in Angolan educational institutions are constant. These were and continue to be pointed out as teachers without the desired quality to teach in higher education, in addition to being few, forcing them to become multipurpose: the teachers lack in Angolan educational institutions causes the few teachers to teach a large number of subjects, and in many cases, subjects outside their comfort area.

The Angolan government focused on education expansion for a long time and forgot about teaching quality in the same institutions. Therefore, the institutions, especially private ones, arise without verification of the curriculum they presented, which was never in accordance with the requirements for their functioning, many of them without appropriate facilities and without enough teachers to follow the several existing courses. And several other factors contributed to the higher education institutions’ quality being relatively low.

Household poverty

The educational level was directly related to the incidence of poverty in Angola from March 2018 to February 2019. According to Statista, among people with no education, 56.5 per cent lived with a level of consumption below the poverty line. Among individuals with primary education, the rate amounted to 54.9 per cent. Even though the poverty incidence among people with higher education was the lowest, 17.3 per cent of people with an upper secondary education or more were living above the poverty line. In December 2018, the total poverty line in Angola was estimated at roughly 12.2 thousand Kwanzas (approximately 22 U.S. dollars).

Impact of drought

The challenges for accessing education imposed by the cyclical pastoral migration in Cunene – particularly for boys – are well-known. However, the severe drought plaguing the South Region of Angola has intensified the phenomenon, causing unprecedented stress on the province’s education system.

According to Reliefweb, In the municipality of Curoca, one of the hardest hit, 13 schools have closed since the beginning of the year due to student absences. Of Cunene’s 887 primary schools, 614 are affected by the drought in some way, which is causing severe disruption to no less than 70% of the province’s 214,000 students.

When children must split their time between fetching water and protecting their families’ greatest wealth, the livestock, their education suffers.

Impact of Covid-19

The pandemic caused by the SARS Covid-19 came to monitor investments made not only in the health sector but also in education and, above all, in the higher education subsystem. The pandemic led governments to close university campuses and face-to-face classes suspension for a considerable period of time as a measure to prevent the virus contamination from spreading. Some countries with the distance learning modality in their school curricula were forced to make it a strategy, intensifying them to reduce the pedagogical damage that was felt due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19. Given the uncertainty of an end date for the pandemic, other countries were forced to bet on this modality of distance learning.

Until 2020, the Angolan State did not recognize any studies carried out at a distance, both within the country and abroad (Presidential Decree n° 59/20, of 3 March). The emergence of the pandemic was necessary to show the importance of distance. It blended learning, leading it to adopt the strategy used by most countries to avoid a catastrophe at the educational level.

Green Schools campaign in Eiffel School, in Angola. Photo by Mayada Marrom on Wikimedia Commons.

Water, sanitation and hygiene

According to USAID, “nearly half the population of Angola (49.3%) lacks access to clean drinking water and (54.7%) of households do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.” As a result, many Angolans face a high risk of exposure to waterborne illnesses, further burdening the nation’s existing healthcare infrastructure, worsening malnutrition and negatively impacting the economy.

Moreover, the southern regions of Angola are experiencing a prolonged drought, which has gravely impacted the nation’s health, sanitation, water access and education services. More than 1.2 million Angolans face water scarcity due to the drought. In the Cunene province, the drought has caused “serious disruptions” to school access for nearly 70% of students.

Teenage pregnancy and child marriages

Angola has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world. Underlying factors include limited knowledge of family planning, inadequate availability of commodities, limited access to skilled health workers, and insufficient household resources allocated to sexual and reproductive health. The high rate of teenage pregnancy increases the already existing vulnerability of girls, as pregnancy is often an impediment to continuing education, exemplified by the low literacy rates of only 36.5% for young women aged 15 to 24. The country has 10 million girls and women of reproductive age. Although 75% of girls attend primary education, this proportion drops to around 15.5% in secondary education, coinciding with the first menstruation age. High fertility rates and high levels of teenage pregnancy also increase the risk of maternal mortality. In this context, behaviour change interventions are crucial to empowering young women and men to make better decisions to protect themselves.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Angola’s government, therefore, has a responsibility to extend better social services in rural areas, such as roads, schools, and hospitals, to facilitate development in those areas and hence improve people’s living standards and education for poor kids.

As the government seeks to alleviate the effects of the lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasis should be placed on ensuring that systems that are supposed to protect girls and women from child marriages are not compromised. Clean water must be readily available for people to improve their hygiene habits, as must soap. And girls must have privacy and dignity when using sanitation facilities. The Government of Angola should respond to the drought in the southern region, which also affects the provinces of Namibe, Huila and Bie, so that children can focus on their education.

References
  1. Global partnership for education. (2022, November 22). The Angolan Education law(2021). https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/angola

Universal Periodic Review of Republic of Congo

  • Broken Chalk is a non-profit organisation with one main goal – To protect human rights in education. The organisation started with a website and articles and is currently working on multiple projects, each aiming to fight human rights violations in the educational sphere. As the UPR is related to human rights violations, inequalities, human trafficking, and other violations, Broken Chalk prepares this article for the fourth Cycle and the specific country – the Congo.
  • During the last Cycle, the delegation put forward 194 recommendations. The Republic of Congo supported 188 recommendations, and the rest they noted. At the adoption of its UPR outcome at Human Rights Council 40 in March 2019 (an increase of 15% concerning the 2nd cycle). Supported recommendations related to Legal and general framework of implementation, universal and cross-cutting issues, civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, women’s rights, and rights of other vulnerable groups and persons.
  • The Republic of Congo (Congo) – not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo – is sparsely populated, with over half its population concentrated in the two largest cities and almost half its population under 18 (World Bank, 2019). Child rights in Congo (also known as Congo-Brazzaville) are improving, with good access to education and many legal mechanisms to protect child rights. Significant concerns remain as children who labour, girls, and indigenous children continue to experience serious rights violations and often have difficulty meeting their basic needs.

By Ruth Lakica

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Cover image by J. Patrick Fischer on Wikimedia Commons.

Challenges facing education system in Uganda

Writen by Ruth Lakica

Introduction

Education is a fundamental rights for all humans around the globe. Regardless of one’s economic or social status,  every human being should be entitled to Education. Despite the fact that this might seem obvious, it is not the reality for many Ugandans. Nevertheless, the government has and is still making significant efforts to cub illiteracy.  For instance, the government split the education system into pre-primary, primary, secondary and post secondary or tertiary education.

Uganda has made progress in implementing universal primary education, yet many students do not achieve minimum levels of literacy and numeracy. Low learning levels contribute to low completion rates and many students fail to transition between grades and dropout rates are high.

Alice Namweru, age 32, is a teacher trainee at Miyana Primary School & Early Childhood Development Center. Photo by: GPE/Livia Barton

Conflicts and insecurity

Nearly 40 pupils have been killed at a school in western Uganda by rebels linked to the Islamic State group (IS).

Five militants attacked the Lhubiriha secondary school in Mpondwe. Uganda’s information minister said 37 students were confirmed to have been killed, but did not give their ages. Twenty of them were attacked with machetes and 17 of them burned to death, Chris Baryomunsi told the BBC.

The Ugandan army said the rebels had also killed a school guard and three members of the local community.

Survivors said the rebels threw a bomb into the dormitory after the machete attack. It is not clear if this resulted in a fire in the building which was reported earlier.

Six students were also abducted to carry food that the rebels stole from the school’s stores, he added. The militants then returned across the border into the DR Congo.

Lack of enough teachers

The lack of teachers is yet another huge obstacle to education in the rural areas of Uganda. Actually, in rural areas, it can be extremely difficult to attract great teachers, and hiring, in general, most teachers prefers to teach in urban areas. The reason is, rural life is not suitable for everyone. Many services such as healthcare, banks and proper housing can be harder to obtain as well.

Destin at Kyanja high school Mpigi teaching climate education. Photo by: Atwijukirenaomi

Household poverty

Access to and completion of schooling is inequitable, with girls and children from the poorest families at highest risk of school dropout: According to UNICEF in 2020,the secondary level enrollment of the richest 20 per cent of the population (43.1 per cent) is five times that of the poorest 20 per cent (8.2 per cent).  In geographical terms, the highest Secondary Net Enrollment is seen in Kampala (52 per cent) and lowest in Acholi (7 per cent).  Costs associated with education account for 6 out of 10 people leaving school among the people from the poor household.

Among children that do attend school in Uganda, the absence of qualified teachers, textbooks, and low-quality school environment all adversely affect learning outcomes: most students in fifth grade in rural areas in Uganda are not able to master basic mathematics and reading skills.

Physical distance to learning centers

Physical distance is another huge problem children attaining education in mainly rural areas have go through. Schools are located kilometers away from their home stay where kids have to move for long hours to get to their school. Some fail to go to school because it’s far while others tend to drop out.

Impact of Covid-19

The school closures and the loss of household income, particularly in rural areas, restricted access to education for school-aged children. Many students abandoned school permanently due to their parent’s loss of income.  young people needed to find ways to generate an income while schools were closed. This posed different challenges depending on gender or location.

Girls did not reintegrate back into schools, and were exposed to early marriage and pregnancies. Teenage pregnancy and early marriages Ahead of the 2020 Day of the African Child, Save the Children had a discussion with selected children on how COVID-19 was affecting them. This story from Wakiso District sums it up. “A girl in primary five in a neighboring school was impregnated by a man working in a stone quarry. When schools closed, her mother sent her to sell. Many of these girls may never go back to school, because of the economic impact of COVID-19 on their families. In such instances, more girls than boys are likely to be affected as impoverished families usually prioritize educating the boys. The girls are expected to be married off.

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Water and sanitation are essential for life and health, but they are also essential for dignity, empowerment and prosperity. Water and sanitation are human rights, fundamental to every child and adult. But in Uganda, poor sanitation and hygiene, as well as unequal access to safe drinking water, make thousands of children very sick and at risk of death.

Early childhood diarrhoea is not only deadly; it also contributes to Uganda’s high levels of stunting, which in turn affects children’s cognitive development and performance at school. In school, lack of proper sanitation facilities also leads to high absenteeism and dropouts, especially for girls. According to UNICEF “Diarrhoea alone, one of three major childhood killers in Uganda, kills 33 children every day”. In most cases, children get the disease by drinking unsafe water or coming into contact with contaminated hands and most schools in Uganda especially in rural areas does not provide clean water for their students.

A primary classroom in Kampala. Uganda. Photo by: Arne Hoel / World Bank

Teenage pregnancy and child marriages

Child marriage, teenage pregnancy, abuse at schools and school fees keep many teens, especially girls, out of secondary schools.  pregnancy accounts for 8 per cent of girls who left school. Similar challenges remain in the quality of education: only about 50 per cent of the children in Primary 3 were proficient in literacy and numeracy in a 2018 survey conducted by the Government.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Uganda’s government, therefore, has a responsibility of extending better social services in rural areas such as roads, schools, hospitals to facilitate development in those areas and hence improve people’s standards of living as well as education for the poor kids.

As government seeks to alleviate the effects of lockdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasis should be placed on ensuring that systems that are supposed to protect girls and women from GBV are not compromised. If this is not done quickly, the country will have to deal with a number of psychosocial problems brought about by the lockdown. Clean water must be readily available for people to improve their hygiene habits, as must soap. And girls must have privacy and dignity when using sanitation facilities.

References

Patience A in Kampala & James G in London. (2023, June 17). Uganda school Attack. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65937484

UNICEF. (2020). Education. UNICEF uganda. https://www.unicef.org/uganda/what-we-do/education

Tuyambe. (2022, September 28). Education challenges faced by Uganda children in rural are as. https://www.tuyambe.org/education-challenges-faced-by-ugandan-children-in-rural-areas

The Conversation. (2022, February 15). Uganda closed schools for two years – the impact is deep and uneven. https://theconversation.com/uganda-closed-schools-for-two-years-the-impact-is-deep-and-uneven-176726

Finance.go.ug. (2020, July). COVID-19 and Girl Child Education in Uganda. What are the Emerging Issues?. https://www.finance.go.ug/sites/default/files/Publications/BMAU%20Briefing%20Paper%2013-20-COVID-19%20and%20Girl%20Child%20Education%20in%20Uganda.%20What%20are%20the%20Emerging%20Issues.pdf

UNICEF. (2022). Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). UNICEF. Uganda. https://www.unicef.org/uganda/what-we-do/wash

Challenges facing the Education system in Mali

Written by Ruth Lakica

 

Introduction

Education is a fundamental right for all humans around the globe. Regardless of one’s economic or social status, they should be able to have access to Education. Even though this seems obvious and like common knowledge, it is not the reality for many Malians. Nevertheless, the government has and is making significant efforts to cab illiteracy.  For instance, the government split primary education into two cycles which allowed Malian students to take examinations to gain admission to secondary, tertiary, or higher education.  However, Mali has still been facing a security crisis for several years now, which has severely compromised access to education for thousands of school-age children, particularly in the north.

Threats against schools and destruction of school infrastructure and equipment led to a shortage of teachers in affected areas and a breakdown in the pedagogical support system due to massive population displacements[i].

 

School children in a classroom in Gao, Mali – Photo by UN/Marco Dormino

Conflicts and insecurity

The country is increasingly recording serious human rights and international humanitarian law violations. Violent attacks by armed groups now affect civilians throughout most of the country.

Threats from armed groups remain the main factor behind the closure of 1,700 schools in Mali today[ii]. Over the past two years, the country has been among the three African countries whose schools are most attacked, along with Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA).

In addition to insecurity, emergency education in conflict zones is severely underfunded. Since the beginning of the year 2022, 1 in 10 schools in Mali has remained closed due to a lack of infrastructure and school equipment. Mali’s national budget cannot cover the needs and education is one of the least funded sectors in the humanitarian response, accounting for only 2 percent of funds received in 2022.

For schools in conflict areas that are struggling to stay open, having funding to build and rehabilitate school infrastructure is vital. According to the Norwegian Refugee council article about the insecurity in Mali, “In some schools in the region, a single classroom can often accommodate up to 300 children due to a lack of infrastructure,” said Ibrahim Ag Bijangoum, Acting Director of the Ménaka Education Academy. It is impossible for school-going pupils and students to have a taste for learning in such a condition.

Household poverty

Access to and completion of schooling is inequitable, with girls and children from the poorest families at highest risk of school dropout: According to UNICEF in 2020, only 73.8 percent of girls are enrolled in primary basic education, compared with 85.8 percent of boys. By the time they reach secondary education, the proportion of girls enrolled is only 15 percent, compared with 21 percent of boys.[iii]

Among children that do attend school in Mali, the absence of qualified teachers, textbooks, and low-quality school environments all adversely affect learning outcomes: most students in fifth grade in Mali are not able to master basic mathematics and reading skills.

A classroom full of students engage in class and look toward the teacher while seated at their desks
Credit: GPE/Michelle Mesen

Impact of Covid-19

The school closures and the loss of household income, particularly in rural areas, restricted access to education for school-aged children. Many students abandoned school permanently due to their parent’s loss of income. Girls did not reintegrate back into schools and were exposed to early marriage and pregnancies. According to the world bank, in Bamako August 2021, a senior poverty economist at the World Bank and co-author of the report, who adds that school-aged children today are likely to experience lower lifetime income due to the pandemic[iv].

Water, sanitation, and hygiene

Access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation, and hygiene protects children against common water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and reduces stunting, which affects more than 26% of children in Mali.

According to UNICEF in 2015, in Mali, only about one-half of schools have an improved water point, and less than 20% of schools have functional, separate toilets for boys and girls. In addition, more than one million people in Mali still practice open defecation, which has a direct impact on the health and safety of communities. While 80% of Mali’s population now has access to improved sources of drinking water, this number drops significantly in rural areas, where it is only 70%[v]. Displacement in conflict-affected areas of Mali has further limited the access of families on the move to clean water and sanitation.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, despite the challenges facing the education system in Mali, the government of Mali and other organizations have been working hard to improve education. UNICEF in Mali and other partners have been working in communities, schools, and health centers to improve access to clean water, hygiene, and sanitation in all areas of children’s lives.

According to European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the EU has provided more than €472 million in humanitarian aid in Mali since the beginning of the crisis in 2012. It is currently a leading donor of assistance in the country[vi].

[i]Global Partnership for Education. (2021). Education in Mali. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/mali.

[ii]Norwegiann Refugee Council. (2022). Mali: Insecurity and lack of funding force over half a million children out of school.  Retrieved from: https://www.nrc.no/news/2022/june/mali-insecurity-and-lack-of-funding-force-over-half-a-million-children-out-of-school/[iii] UNICEF (2020). Harnessing children’s potential through quality education for every child. Retrieved from:https://www.unicef.org/mali/en/education

[iii] UNICEF (2020). Harnessing children’s potential through quality education for every child. Retrieved from:https://www.unicef.org/mali/en/education

[iv]The World Bank. (2021). Mali: Understand COVID-19’s impacts for better actions. Retrieved from: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2021/08/11/mali-understand-covid-19-s-impacts-for-better-actions

[v]UNICEF. (2023) Water, sanitation, and hygiene: Improving children’s lives through clean water and clean environments. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/mali/en/water-sanitation-and-hygiene

[vi]European Commission. (2023). European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations: Mali. Retrieved from: https://civil-protection-humanitarian-aid.ec.europa.eu/where/africa/mali_en

Universal Periodic Review of Burkina Faso

  • Broken Chalk has prepared this report to contribute to the 4th Universal Periodic Review(UPR) of Burkina Faso. Broken Chalk is an Amsterdam-based NGO focused on human rights violations in education. Since the organisation’s primary mission is to fight inequalities and improve the quality of education worldwide, this report focuses on human rights, specifically education.
  • The report will first explore the main problems in the educational field in Burkina Faso, including information on what recommendations Burkina Faso received in the 3rd cycle UN UPR review in 2018 and the actions are taken to improve education. Then Broken Chalk offers some practical suggestions to Burkina Faso to enhance human rights in education further.
  • In the last review, Burkina Faso received 204 recommendations, and it supported 184 recommendations focused on the legal and general framework of implementation, universal and cross-cutting issues, civil and political rights, economic, social, and cultural rights, women’s rights, and rights of other vulnerable groups and persons. These recommendations will help Broken Chalk evaluate how Burkina Faso is performing according to the goals it set in 2017.
  • Quality education is a vital pillar of our society. It enables long-term growth and development, helps the integration of minorities and foreigners and shapes the future of the young ones in the community. Education in Burkina Faso has a very similar structure to the rest of the world, primary schools, secondary schools, and higher education. The academic year in Burkina Faso runs from October to July. The Education Act means that schooling is compulsory between 6 and 15, but unfortunately, this is only sometimes enforced. The education system is based on the French model, and the French language is taught in all Burkina Faso schools. According to Worldorld Bank, it is notable that approximately 56% of youth have no formal education and 16% of youth have attained at most incomplete primary education, meaning that in total, 72% indicating that 15-24 years old have not completed primary education in Burkina Faso.
by Ruth Lakica

Cover image by Priad123456789 on Wikimedia Commons.

Challenges within the education system in Burkina Faso

Written by Ruth Lakica

Introduction 

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in west Africa. The country occupies an extensive plateau, and its geography is characterized by a savanna that is grassy in the north and gradually gives way to sparse forests in the south. A former French colony, it gained independence as Upper Volta in 1960. The name Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Incorruptible People,” was adopted in 1984.

Schoolchildren in Burkina Faso – Photo by Anadolu Agency.

Characteristics of Education in Burkina Faso

School enrollment is one of the lowest in Africa, even though the government devotes a large portion of the national budget to education. French is the language of instruction in primary and secondary education.

Education in Burkina Faso has a very similar structure to the rest of the world, primary schools, secondary schools, and higher education. The academic year in Burkina Faso runs from October to July. The Education Act enacted that schooling is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15 but unfortunately this is not always enforced. The education system is based on the French model and teaching language in all Burkina Faso schools is French. According to the World Bank, it is notable that approximately 56% of youth have no formal education, and 16% of youth have attained at most incomplete primary education, meaning that in total 72% meaning that in total 15-24 years old have not completed primary education in Burkina Faso.

The effect of Covid-19 on Education

Like every country worldwide, the education system in Burkina Faso was also affected by Covid-19. All schools in Burkina Faso were closed for nine weeks from march 2020. After this time schools in some areas reopened, with all schooling resuming after 14 weeks (UNESCO, 2020). School closure affected more than 20,000 educational establishments, and disrupted the education of over 4.7 million learners.

The impact of Covid-19 forced the closure of schools across the country, putting the most marginalized children at risk of losing out on learning and not returning to the classroom.

Broken chalk congratulates Burkina Faso for adopting remote studying undertaken during school closures with learning materials provided via television, radio and internet for primary and secondary school (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNICEF & World Bank, 2020). However, 84% of students lack internet access, 81% lack digital devices, and 81% had difficulty distributing hard copies of learning materials. These disadvantaged students that are unable to access remote studies fell behind with others dropping out.

Another barrier to remote education is access to technology. The MILO (Monitoring Impacts on Learning Outcomes) project indicates that the support many schools most need relates to accessing technology, rather than human capital.

Armed groups attack on teachers, students, and schools in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s education system is facing recurrent and growing attacks by armed groups. Schools have been attacked, teachers assaulted and killed, and educational resources destroyed. At one point, all schools were closed, disrupting the school calendar. Students and staff were sent home.

Burkina Faso is facing an education crisis, with severe deterioration in access to education due to armed violence over the past few years. Education indicators have been declining since 2018, with the gross enrolment rate at the primary level falling from 90.7% to 86.1% and the post-primary level from 52% to 47.3%, a loss of 5 points in three years. For example, in the Sahel region, which has been partially affected by insecurity, the gross enrolment rate at the primary level has fallen from 53.4% in 2018 to 20.3% in 2021. Thus, only one in four children were attending school in the Sahel region in 2021.

The attacks by armed groups have led to the closures of many schools in Burkina Faso. As of 31 May 2022, more than 4,000 schools were closed due to insecurity, representing 17% of schools nationwide, interrupting the education of more than 700,000 children. An estimated 2.6 million children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 are out of school, representing more than half of all school-aged children (51.4%).

School closures increase with safety threats from armed groups – Photo by UNICEF

Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene

54% of the population of Burkina Faso has access to improved drinking water sources while only 23% has access to improved sanitation facilities. Regarding water and sanitation facilities in schools, Burkina Faso faces challenges. 14 years old Pauline W. Somlare grade 6 at Mouni primary school located 13 km from Niou in the plateau central region. Open since October 1979, it was only in 2001 that the school got its first water pump. Despite the water installation, not everything is going as it should. A few weeks ago, the school was again facing a crucial water problem leading to thirst, lack of hygiene, late lessons, and the often-served late lunch. The latest failure in 2019 could be repaired. In December 2019, thanks to UNICEF intervention following a request from the ministry in charge of education, the water pump was rehabilitated in Jan 2020.

Quality of Education

Despite the quality management of Burkinabe education system and its numerous educational strategy: The Orientation Law, the Basic Education Sector Development Plan, the Education Sector Plan, the Integrated Strategy for the Strengthening of Pedagogical Management, the Integrated Strategy for the Continuous Training of Teachers and Pedagogical Managers, or its Quality Reference Framework for Basic Education. Burkina Faso is still not quite “top of the class”.  Defining strategies isn’t enough to guarantee success.

The scarcity of financial resources is a fact, accentuated by the transfer of competencies from the State to local authorities. And, if financial resources are lacking, the diagnosis also highlights that human resources are also limited. In a system that tends to move towards greater decentralization and which entrusts a great deal of responsibility to the actors closest to the ground, their support for these new responsibilities (particularly administrative and financial) is not always equal to the challenges.

Resources that do not always match the needs. With little training and support, teachers at the concentrated areas seem to have difficulty entirely playing their role. Often burdened by a heavy administrative workload, they have difficulty keeping up with the pace and thus slow down actions to improve quality teaching.

Negative Consequences for Students, Teachers, Society.

Attacks on schools and class disruptions have reduced the quality of education students receive and put many students behind in their studies. According to Human Rights Watch, one student said that she had failed her final exam after an attack forced her school to close for weeks, leaving her unable to prepare. Another said, “It makes me unhappy, to not be able to finish, to have to retake classes, to not even have any documents to show you took the class.

Lack of psychosocial and material support to victims of attacks from the armed group of men

Human Rights Watch identified the lack of consistent and timely support for victims of education-related attacks as another major issue. Numerous teachers who were attacked or threatened said they had never received any psychosocial support from the government. Others said the support they had received was perfunctory and woefully inadequate, without any longer-term follow-up. Many still struggled with emotional or psychological issues. Teachers said they felt abandoned and undervalued, and expected to restart work following redeployments despite the lack of the required psychosocial, financial, or material support.

Conclusion

Despite the challenges facing the education system in Burkina Faso, the government of Burkina Faso and other non-governmental organizations are trying to improve education in Burkina Faso. Nearly one million students do no longer have access to education. As a response, UNICEF, the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages (MENA), and its partners, such as King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) have developed the Radio Education Programme in 2018. This programme is ensuring continuity of learning for affected children, who fled their homes because of the attacks on their schools.

                                                

References

Hadrien, B. (2022, October 20). Back-to-school campaign: More than 56,000 Kits distributed to children-UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/burkinafaso/en/node/1176

Claude, T. (2021, February 10). Tackling schools’ access to safe water challenges-UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/burkinafaso/en/stories/tackling-schools-access-safe-water-challenges-case-Mouni-primary-school

Quality of education in Burkina Faso: Limited policy impact due to poor Understanding of the problems on the ground. UNESCO. (2022, September 9). https://dakar.iiep.unesco.org/en/news/quality-education-burkina-faso-limited-policy-impact-due-Poor-understanding-problems-ground

Lauren, S. (2022, June). Education under attack 2022. https://eua2022.protectingeducation.org/

Jean, F. (2021, July 14). Covid-19 accelerating education Inequality in Burkina Faso. https://ideas4development.org/en/covid-19-accelerating-education-inequalities-in-burkina-faso/

Nick, R and Boubacar, B. ( 2022, November 21). Burkina Faso schoolchildren pay double price in ongoing conflict. https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2022/11/21/burkina-faso-schoolchildren-pay-double-price-in-Ongoing-conflict

Myron, E. (2022, December 16). Burkina Faso. https://www.hrw.org/africa/burkina-faso

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (2020, MAY). Armed forces and groups, Children affected by armed conflict, Education. https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/document/their-war-against-education-armed-group-attacks-teachers-students-and-schools-burkina-faso/