In sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, pri­mary school teacher short­age on the hori­zon

Africa Renewal - - Africa Watch - By Tsigue Shiferaw

Sub- Sa­ha­ran Africa is about to face a ma­jor short­age of teach­ers, says the United Na­tions Ed­u­ca­tional, Sci­en­tific and Cul­tural Or­gan­i­sa­tion ( UNESCO). Its newly re­leased data show that about one third of the coun­tries in the re­gion will face pres­sure in the com­ing years

to hire more teach­ers due to a ris­ing de­mand for ed­u­ca­tion from an in­creas­ing school-age pop­u­la­tion. As a re­sult, the re­gion will need about 2.1 mil­lion new teach­ing posts while fill­ing an­other 2.6 mil­lion va­cant po­si­tions, as many will leave the pro­fes­sion due to at­tri­tion from re­tire­ment or sick­ness.

Some coun­tries are al­ready mak­ing ef­forts to pre­vent such an out­come. Ethiopia, for in­stance, has been ex­pand­ing its teach­ers work­force by an av­er­age of 11% per an­num since 1999.

46%

of the world short­age of sec­ondary school teach­ers

is in sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa

An­a­lysts be­lieve this rate could en­able the coun­try to meet the chal­lenges of a fu­ture short­age. Cameroon, Namibia and Le­sotho have also taken steps to in­crease the num­ber of teach­ers, ac­cord­ing to the UNESCO In­sti­tute for Sta­tis­tics 2013 study, “Pro­ject­ing Global Teacher Needs from 2015 to 2030”. As a re­sult, these coun­tries should be able to at­tain the Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goal of uni­ver­sal pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion.

Be­fore the re­cent po­lit­i­cal un­rest, the sit­u­a­tion in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic was slightly dif­fer­ent as the coun­try was re­cruit­ing teach­ers at a rate of 10% per an­num. There are now fears that the on­go­ing fight­ing, if not stopped, could af­fect re­cruit­ment ef­forts.

But the trend is wors­en­ing in other coun­tries. More chil­dren in Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Malawi and Nige­ria will need ex­tra pri­mary school teach­ers by 2030. In Eritrea, for ex­am­ple, for ev­ery seven teach­ers re­cruited, 10 are ex­pected to leave, notes the UNESCO study. On the other hand, Mau­ri­ta­nia is catch­ing up and may close the gap by 2015, while Dji­bouti faces one of the big­gest chal­lenges as only 54% of pri­mary school-age chil­dren are en­rolled.

To at­tain the goal of uni­ver­sal pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion, Dji­bouti will need to re­cruit about 17% more teach­ers each year be­tween now and 2030. Many be­lieve this is un­likely to hap­pen be­cause the coun­try doesn’t have the re­sources to hugely ex­pand its work­force, which means it will in­evitably face an acute teacher short­age by then.

While sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa ac­counts for 46% of the global short­age of lower sec­ondary school teach­ers, the data also show that gov­ern­ments that have started to make se­ri­ous ef­forts to con­front the prob­lem will be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to as­sure qual­ity and uni­ver­sal ed­u­ca­tion by 2030.

An­drew Aitchi­son/In Pic­tures/Cor­bis/API­mages

A school teacher in Cape Town, South Africa.

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