Education Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa: Paradigm Lost?

Education Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa: Paradigm Lost?

Education Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa: Paradigm Lost?

Education Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa: Paradigm Lost?

Synopsis

Although many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have proclaimed it their goal to achieve free universal primary schooling to all children, few have come close to achieving it. The authors of this study describe the implementation of a major primary school reform in five countries (Benin, Ethiopia, Guinea, Malawi, and Uganda).

Excerpt

Jeanne Moulton and Karen Mundy

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa have proclaimed it their goal to provide free universal primary schooling to all children, and the period between 1990 and 2000 saw the international community pay renewed attention to this goal. In 1988 the World Bank Policy Study, Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Policies for Adjustment, Revitalization and Expansion, documented in great detail the sad reality that African educational systems had entered a period of deterioration and disrepair as a result of intensifying economic and political instability. The call for expanded international action to support African basic education systems was front and center at the 1990 World Conference on Education for All, held in Jomtien, Thailand. Virtually all the major international funding agencies responded by launching new programs to support basic education in the 1990s (Bennell and Furlong 1998). African governments have joined in these efforts, often by preparing their own “education for all” plans, and in some cases by announcing renewed commitment to the goal of universal free primary education as part of their larger transition to democratic government. A spirit of cooperation and commitment has grown among major international funding agencies, education development specialists, and African Ministries of Education, as exemplified in the work of a new international organization, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA). Commitment to education for all has also become an essential part of the new debt relief initiatives for highly indebted poor countries (HIPC) being spearheaded by the World Bank.

Yet although the intensity of the educational reform efforts in Africa continues to heighten, there remains a serious lack of research on the design and implementation of what we in this book describe as a movement for the comprehensive, systemic or system-wide reform of African school systems. The

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