Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Africa: Disturbing Trends

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Africa: Disturbing Trends

Article excerpt

IN the early 1980s, sub-Saharan Africa had a much higher rate of illiteracy and a much lower rate of school enrolment than other regions, although for several decades African governments had been making a big effort to eliminate illiteracy among young people and adults. The illiteracy rate of those over the age of 15 fell from around 75 per cent in 1970 to 64 per cent in 1980 and 57 per cent in 1985.

Unfortunately, this fall was accompanied by an increase in the number of total illiterates resulting from rampant demographic growth and the ineffectiveness of education systems-despite the fact that a large part of the region's GNP was being used to finance them. Since then, certain negative trends have worsened. The number of African countries whose education budget was increasing faster than their GNP fell from 20 in 1975-1980 to 12 in the years that followed.

According to Unesco figures, there may be some 168 million illiterates aged 15 and over in Africa in 1990,105 minion of them women. These figures doubtless underestimate the true situation insofar as they are based on rather unreliable Official statistics. …

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