Education is central to enhancing a child’s full potential. The lack of education is a life sentence of poverty and exclusion. The African Children’s Charter recognises the right to education of all children (article 11). Education is a key component of Africa’s development agenda. An assessment of the First Decade of Education for Africa (1997-2006) revealed that ‘most of the goals’ were not achieved. Against this background, member States reaffirmed their commitment to implement the goals of the Second Decade of Education in Africa, 2006-2015 and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016-2025). Over this period, some significant gains were registered. The primary school enrolment rate in sub-Saharan Africa grew from 52 per cent in 1990 to 78 per cent in 2012. However, the dramatic increase in enrolment has not been equalled at the secondary level. Also with a 67 percent primary completion rate, Africa is still far from achieving primary completion rates for all by 2015. Factors influencing these percentages need to be researched by States in order to determine the cause and to remedy the situation at the root of the problem.Although the demand for and supply of secondary and higher education have increased, albeit less dramatically than at primary level, the good results in terms of quality and learning outcomes do not meet the needs of the labour market. Many learners do not find employment when they finish school. Many children are at risk of not developing to their full potential due to the lack of early stimulation and exposure to stress at an early age. Improved nutrition and stimulation in the early years increases the efficiency of investments in health and education, thus improving the economic opportunities of children and youth in later life. Education should, therefore, be relevant to its particular context to meet the needs of the labour market. In many parts of Africa, private actors increasingly provide education, giving rise to problems of inferior education due to a lack of regulatory oversight. Education is a public good, of which the quality has to be assured. States should curb the unregulated rise of private actors in education, as a failure to effectively regulate may compromise the quality of education and lead to the exploitation of children.
- All children receive early stimulation and learning opportunities from birth onwards.
- Pre-school education is prioritised and increasingly made compulsory for all children.
- Every child starts and completes free, quality, primary and secondary education that leads to relevant and effective learning outcomes.
- Primary and secondary education is free, without hidden costs impeding access.
- Children with learning, mental and physical impairments are included and given the necessary support to complete primary and secondary school; as far as possible, the principle of inclusive education is fully implemented; where appropriate, special-needs schools are opened for children with mild to severe learning, mental and physical impairments.
- Boys and girls have equal opportunities and access to primary and secondary school education; no girl child is denied education as a result of becoming pregnant.
- There is gender equity among teachers, with an equal percentage of male and female teachers; there is a safe and gender-sensitive responsive learning environment comprising facilities, materials, and rights-based curricula; teachers are adequately qualified, well trained and motivated; all schools are safe spaces, with adequate facilities conducive to effective learning, and respectful of learners’ dignity; sport infrastructure at schools is expanded and extra-curricular activities for children are available; a teacher-learner ratio of at most 1:40 is maintained in all classrooms.
- Schools provide universal access to affordable information, communication and technology devices, content and connectivity, and integrate these into teaching and curricula.
- The content and pedagogical approach of education at secondary level is directed at equipping learners for employment, creating employment and entrepreneurship; primary and secondary education focuses on science, technology, engineering, mathematics and informational technology; girls fully participate in science, technology engineering and mathematics education.
- Mother-tongue education is introduced into primary schools.
- Education inculcates a spirit of pan-Africanism among the youth, in order to cultivate a common identity and destiny and facilitate a pan-African approach and the African Renaissance; AU clubs are formed in all schools across the continent; education engenders positive African values and instills pride in our common heritage as Africans.
- Rights-based curricula with common features and standards are developed across the continent, aimed at critical thinking and leadership, and espousing the values of integrity, accountability and transformative citizenship.
- Education prepares children for change, and equips them to be change agents; age- appropriate, informed and evidence-based education on sexuality and reproductive rights at school enable girls and boys to make informed sexual and reproductive choices; themes such as gender violence, discrimination and abuse, harmful practices and peaceful resolution of disputes are addressed as part of a ‘life skills’ learning programmes.
- Clear standards exist and effectively regulate the activities of private actors in providing education.
- Every child is educated about his or her rights and responsibilities.
- All learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality,promotion of a culture of peace and non- violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.