28th October, 2021
To address the learning crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa and make foundational literacy and numeracy a priority, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, says a multi-stakeholders approach is needed to tackle the issue.
Ezekwesili made the submission at the launch of the Human Capital Africa Educational Initiative, held virtually and physically in Abuja on Tuesday, a statement by the HCA Senior Media Consultant, Mr Ozioma Ubabukoh, stated.
“I am honoured, today, to launch Human Capital Africa, organisation founded to ﬁght this injustice and work together with country leaders, policymakers, donors, civil society organisations and all partners to ensure this right for all children in this region and continent,” Ezekwesili said.
HCA believes that foundational literacy and numeracy should be prioritised to create a secure future for all African children.
She said, “Gaining these foundational skills are critical to progress in school; to learning other subjects; to participate in technical education and, eventually, become productive members of the workforce and society.”
Of the 100,000 children born every day in SSA, about 90,000 are not able to read a simple sentence by the age of 10 or 11. “This is terrible,” Ezekwesili, the Chief Executive Officer of HCA, decried.
“Unfortunately, every day, we ﬁnd new ways to let all the 100,000 of them down, by denying them the opportunities they need to build the right levels of human capital necessary to thrive in the world today.
“Perhaps, most critical of our failures in building this necessary human capital is our inability to ensure that all our children receive quality education,” she stressed.
A former World Bank Vice President, African region, Ezekwesili pointed out that no country has done well for itself without addressing the issue of foundational literacy and numeracy.
HCA is founded to advocate measures and address the prevailing injustice meted out to children of the poor, she said.
Part of HCA’s approach to fix the learning crisis is to bring foremost leaders, practitioners and champions on the continent as well as country leaders together to care, respond and act.
“We plan to do this by using data and evidence,” she added.
Others include supporting country leaders and policymakers to understand and implement the right actions.
“The most critical is being accountable and responsible for one’s actions and the actions of our peers, partners and teams.
“We plan to do this by providing them with evidence-based data, where it has worked such as in India and Kenya,” she said. “Together, we will ensure every child in SSA learns.”
Former President of Malawi, Dr Joyce Banda, who said she spent about half of her life educating children, stressed that quality education remained one of the basic rights of children across the world.
Lamenting the state of education in the region, she said, “It is shocking how we have continuously denied our children this right. This initiative today is where we should be headed.”
Her Tanzaniam counterpart, Dr Jakaya kikwete, said learning from the foundational level remained one of the many examples of transformation.
“It is not the responsibility of anybody else, but ours as governments, leaders, teachers as well as parents and communities to deliver quality education to all children,” kikwete added.
The Governor, Edo State, Nigeria, Godwin Obaseki, who spoke on some of the models his administration was adopting to reform learning in the state, noted that, for decades, Africa, like other developing regions, anchored its development programmes on exploiting mineral resources, with the hope to deploy the proceeds towards economic prosperity.
“This model has not worked,” he decried, urging leaders to take cognisance of mineral resources, but focus on the most abundant resource, which is human capital.
“Use this as a springboard to drive far-reaching, deep-rooted sustainable development that ensures greater spread of prosperity,” the governor added.
Other dignitaries at the launch included the Olu of Warri’s wife, Olori Atuwatse III; Country Director at Nexford University, Olamidun Majekodunni; Co-founder and former Group Executive of Sahara Group, Tonye Cole; Alero-Ayida Otobo and Dr Modupe Adefeso-Olateju of HCA; Chairman of Pacesetters Schools, Kenneth Imansuangbon, and invited students.