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Funding Africa’s Education Revolution

By: Strive Masiyiwa

If Africa’s children are educated and equipped with the skills to succeed in the twenty-first-century economy, the entire continent will prosper. But if they are denied a quality education, Africa’s economic progress will be slowed, stunted, or even thrown into reverse.

In mid-July, former US President Barack Obama used a speech in South Africa to implore the world to invest more in the education of Africa’s youth. A month later, UK Prime Minister Theresa May made a similar plea, predicting that “Africa’s young people could enrich not only this continent but the world economy and society at large.”
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Statements like these underscore something Africans have known for a long time: the continent’s future will be determined by the fate of its young people. The question now is whether these statements will help spur the educational revolution that Africa so desperately needs.

Simply put, if Africa’s children are educated, prepared for the modern workforce, and equipped with the skills to be successful entrepreneurs, they will flourish and Africa will prosper. But if our children fall any further behind their peers in developing countries, economic progress will be slowed, stunted, or even thrown into reverse. To ensure the former and prevent the latter, Africa must invest more in education.

To succeed in the twenty-first-century economy, young people will need to solve problems, think critically, and persevere in the face of challenge and failure. At the moment, however, very few African students are learning these skills. This urgent need inspired my wife and I to establish the Higherlife Foundation, which provides tuition and scholarships to some of Africa’s most vulnerable populations.

But philanthropy alone cannot solve Africa’s educational challenges. If current trends continue, Africa will be home to one billion young people by 2050, and as many as a third of them will never achieve basic competency in reading, writing, or math. Closing Africa’s education gap will take time. It will also take more money than donors can provide.

That is why one of the biggest obstacles to fixing education in developing countries is financing. Today, just 10% of official development assistance from OECD countries is allocated to education reform in the Global South. But even if the most optimistic funding targets were met, we would still not have enough capital to ensure that all children are in school and learning. To achieve this ambitious goal, we must completely rethink how to pay for education reforms.

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For the last several years, I have served as a commissioner with the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity (the Education Commission). This global group of leaders from government, business, academia, and civil society was brought together to brainstorm new funding mechanisms that could leverage existing commitments and motivate countries to increase their own spending on education. And now, after extensive research and analysis, we have arrived at a solution: the International Finance Facility for Education (IFFEd).

By 2020, the Facility will unlock some $10 billion in grants and loans to help countries strengthen their education systems. This will be accomplished by applying innovations in global finance to help multiply donor funding so that the money raised goes further, creates affordable terms for human capital finance, and incentivizes government participation. To that end, the IFFEd will favor countries that are committed to implementing reforms and monitoring results.

Moreover, by collaborating with countries that are increasing their own investments in education, the Facility will also contribute to meeting universal education targets. For example, the first round of IFFEd allocations will fund some 200 million new school places for children and young people; millions more could follow.

These are not impossible goals; the IFFEd is already endorsed by the World Bank, the G20, regional development banks (like the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank), and the United Nations. Last month, during the UN General Assembly in New York, leaders from Bangladesh, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Denmark, Malawi, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom strongly supported the creation of the Facility.

I agree with Obama that talent exists everywhere in the world. It’s time to give Africa’s young talent the opportunity to flourish.


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Yemen: Going back to school in a war zone

Asia/Yemen/17.09.18/By Sean Coughlan BBC/Source:

It’s back to school – but for millions the prospect of another school year will not mean new books, bags and subjects. It will be a struggle to get an education against a background of war, conflict and being refugees far from home.

According to Unicef, there are 17 million children of school age who are refugees in countries hit by conflict.

For those who manage to get to school, the UN children’s agency says that education in emergency situations can mean classes of 70 pupils and unqualified teachers.

Girls are more than twice as likely as boys to miss out on school entirely in such conflict zones.

Last week, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, warned that the problem of refugee children without access to school was becoming worse rather than better.

Only about a quarter of refugees have access to secondary school education, according to figures from the UNHCR.

Unicef says the damage caused by such emergencies, whether wars or natural disasters, can «span entire childhoods».

Here’s a snapshot of the challenges facing some countries for the new school year.



Yemen’s education system is «on the brink of collapse», says Unicef.

The war has seen two million children unable to get to school and many teachers have not been paid their salaries for over a year.

More than 1,200 schools have been damaged in the conflict and others are being used as shelters or occupied by armed groups.

«An entire generation of children in Yemen faces a bleak future because of limited or no access to education,» says Meritxell Relaño, Unicef representative in Yemen.

«Even those who remain in school are not getting the quality education they need.»



There are almost 1.5 million refugees currently living in Uganda – including a million from South Sudan, as the country has faced war, famine and economic collapse.

Among those arriving this year, 82% are women and children.

The Unicef describes Bidi Bidi, in northern Uganda, as «the world’s largest refugee camp» and the «epicentre of a growing humanitarian crisis», which it warns has so far had too little attention or funding.

Image captionThe war in Syria has threatened to deprive a generation of their chance of an education


The war in Syria has raised concerns about a «lost generation», in which young people have missed out on their years of education and the opportunity to prepare for a career and acquire skills.

In Jordan, there are 650,000 registered Syrian refugees, including 335,000 children, in circumstances described by Unicef as «extremely challenging».

«Children are the most affected by the conflict in Syria and continue to pay an incredibly high price,» says the UN, with many refugees missing out on school.

The UN says support for such Syrian refugees is «chronically underfunded» and an appeal for them raised only 7% of the funds that had been sought.

Image captionThe threat of Boko Haram violence has meant children spending years away from their homes


More than 1.8 million people have been displaced by Boko Haram violence, including a million children.

«Children have been targeted and girls abused, exploited and raped,» says Unicef.

It gave the testimony of 15-year-old Saraya Silvanos: «Boko Haram came to our house and tried to find my father. They wanted to kill me.

«I ran and walked all the way to Minawao by myself. I was crying and so scared.»

«Our village was attacked and they were killing people,» says Fatima Ali, who was also forced to leave her home.

Fatima has been living in a camp for two years, where she goes to school.

«I like the feeling of unity going to a classroom brings. School helps us to think about our future,» she says.

DR Congo
Image captionChildren in the DR Congo have faced attacks on schools as well as violence and disease

DR Congo

«The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has deteriorated dramatically over the past year,» says Unicef.

A surge in violent conflict has displaced many families and left them without access to health care, schools or safe drinking water.

Hundreds of schools have been attacked, destroyed or taken over by the military, cutting off hundreds of thousands of young people from being able to go to school.

Instead of being in school, many children have been recruited into armed groups.

Adding to the problems has been an outbreak of Ebola, with children likely to be among the first casualties.

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In Indonesia, innovative education

Redacción: Devex

Resumen: El progreso de la agenda educativa en Indonesia es un objetivo nacional administrado por el ministerio de educación y cultura. Pero los datos sobre el conocimiento y las habilidades de los estudiantes en lectoescritura básica y aritmética muestran que los estudiantes indonesios tienen un rendimiento inferior en comparación con sus pares regionales y globales.

Progressing the education agenda in Indonesia is a national objective managed by the ministry of education and culture. But data on student knowledge and skills in basic literacy and numeracy show that Indonesian students underperform compared to their regional and global peers.

Supporting children in remote areas of the country, and those speaking a language at home different to that of the national curriculum, requires new ideas and approaches to build capacity. Australian Aid’s Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children program, managed by Palladium, is seeing Australian and Indonesian governments partnering to trial new approaches that could improve student outcomes in literacy and numeracy.

A total of 15 pilot projects are underway across 12 districts to find locally driven solutions to education challenges. Two such projects highlight the challenges facing the national education system and teacher training — and are delivering solutions to be fed back to the government.

INOVASI case studies

Two projects in particular are demonstrating the value of stepping back to focus on the basics of education.

In North Kalimantan, an initiative is supporting the districts of Bulungan and Malinau to strengthen literacy-based learning in the early years of education.

While early surveys in the region found that the majority of children enjoy reading, the books available were limited and often textbooks — not ideal to engage children and their imagination.

Local Innovation for Indonesia’s School Children Program, or INOVASI, facilitators in this region have been learning new methods and tools for exploring literacy-learning problems at the classroom and school level. Insufficient access to reading material and the inability of teachers to adapt learning plans to suit the needs of their students is a root cause of literacy and learning problems in the area.

The Gerakan menggunakan Bahasa Indonesia yang baik dan benar project, also known as GEMBIRA, taking place in the West Nusa Tenggara district of Bima, is supporting teachers to better plan and manage the transition from a student’s mother tongue to Bahasa Indonesian — the primary language used for classroom instruction and assessment nationally.

In this region, classroom and playground observations, as well as interviews with teaching staff and parents, found a significant gap between teaching practice, materials, and student’s first languages. Nine out of 10 teachers in schools being used in this pilot project were found to be using local languages in their oral instructional language, while supporting materials and assessment tools were in Bahasa Indonesian, as this was the nationally supplied classroom material.

A range of strategies were trialled by teachers in-classroom to bridge the gap, and enable a gradual shift to classroom education in the national language. These included contextualized approaches that used real-life learning materials found in the local context to help students make connections with new ideas and skills being taught, as well as encouraging students to develop target language skills by exploring their own personal and cultural experiences.

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Race- Based Suspensions Undermine Undermine Education of Black Youth


A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released last month, “K-12 Education: Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities,” reminds us once again that suspensions and expulsions continue at high rates and offer grave risks to students.

The report by this federal monitoring agency reviews data from the Education Department’s Civil Rights Data Collection on school discipline trends across the country, provides a more in-depth look at discipline approaches and challenges faced in five states, and reviews past efforts by the Departments of Education and Justice to identify and address disparities and discrimination.

The GAO reminds us all of the profound ways school discipline affects students and can impair both their childhood and adulthood. For example, “research has shown that students who are suspended from school lose important instructional time, are less likely to graduate on time, are more likely to repeat a grade, drop out of school, and become involved in the juvenile justice system.”

It also notes children experiencing school discipline often have behavioral issues affected by challenges outside the classroom, which are often more acute for poor children – especially children of color, who are more likely to be poor.

The report makes a strong case that there is still much work to be done and we must insist that this administration keep moving forward with solutions – building on what we know is working. We must resist current attempts to move us backwards and instead protect students from discriminatory practices. There are good superintendent-led examples out there to build on.

The GAO’s analysis examines six categories of discipline: out-of-school suspensions, in-school suspensions, referrals to law enforcement, expulsions, corporal punishment, and school-related arrests. It examines the data by race/ethnicity, sex, disability, and poverty level, and included studies of illustrative school districts in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Texas.

Overall, the GAO found that Black students, boys, and students with disabilities were all disproportionately disciplined in the 2013-2014 school year (the latest available data) and that disproportionality is widespread and persistent despite the level of school poverty, type of disciplinary action, or type of public school attended (e.g., traditional, magnet, charter, alternative, or special education).
A closer look at some of the sobering findings:

Race not poverty explains the disparities in discipline. This report is the first time discipline rates were analyzed by poverty level, and results show that race is a more important factor in discipline decisions than poverty. Even in the most affluent school districts, 7.5% of Black boys had been given an out-of-school suspension compared to 1.8% of White boys.

On the other hand, disproportionality “was particularly acute for Black students in high-poverty schools, where they were overrepresented by nearly 25 percentage points in suspensions from school.”

Black students represented 39% of students suspended from school even though they accounted for 15.5% of all public school students. These disparities can be seen as early as preschool where Black children accounted for 47% of students suspended from preschool even though they were only 19% of all public preschool students. Black boys have the highest rate of out-of-school suspension overall and Black girls have the highest rate of all girls.

Boys were two-thirds of those disciplined, though they accounted for just 50 percent of all public school students. Even as early as preschool boys accounted for 78% of children suspended from preschool but were only 54% of all public preschool students.
Students with disabilities represented 25% of students who have been referred to law enforcement, arrested for a school-related offense, or suspended from school but accounted for just 12% of all public school students.

School districts included trauma, mental health issues, social media (including bullying and other conflicts), immigration status, gang involvement, drug use by students or parents, lack of parental guidance and support, and situational barriers like transportation, jobs, and responsibilities at home among the many challenges that affect student behavior or attendance and can lead to discipline issues. There is a clear recognition in finding after finding in the report that more attention and resources are needed to help schools reduce disparities in discipline, not less.

That overall finding is critically important now as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems intent on the Department doing less rather than more to protect children from discrimination in suspensions and expulsions and other areas and reversing what progress has been made.

In 2014 the Department of Education and Department of Justice jointly released an extremely helpful school discipline guidance package to address these kinds of inequities in school discipline and reinforce the meaning of the non-discrimination requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Yet the Education Department under Secretary DeVos now threatens to withdraw that guidance. The Children’s Defense Fund strongly supports the 2014 guidance package and the GAO report’s findings help reconfirm why it must remain in place for our nation’s children.

The guidance reaffirms the obligation school districts and those directly serving students have to ensure discrimination does not interfere with a student’s right to learn and succeed. It makes clear to all superintendents and other administrators, teachers, aides, parents, and students that students have legal rights to be free of discipline policies that push students out of school and can promote serious inequities in their educational opportunities.

The law in this area is clear and has been for more than 50 years; the guidance brings legal protections together with practical steps districts can put in place through their school discipline policies and practices to comply with these nondiscrimination requirements. It has helped communities recognize and praise good policies and challenge the bad. Positive discipline practices are key to ensuring all children are treated fairly and all students can feel respected and supported in safe schools where they have equal educational opportunities.

The Children’s Defense Fund has been highlighting the disparate impact of school discipline policies on children of color and poor children since the publication of our 1975 report, School Suspensions: Are They Helping Children?

Too much of what we learned then remains true today. It is critically important that the 2014 Title VI Guidance be maintained and that it not be made easier for schools to push children of color, boys, and children with disabilities out of school with impunity in a disgraceful race to the bottom. We must not in any way weaken our efforts to move forward to create a level education playing field for all children.


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Nigeria: Education best instrument to fight poverty, social ills – Nasarawa Speaker

África/Nigeria/June 04, 2018/Source:

Abdullahi described education as the best instrument to fight poverty and other related abuses on children, hence the need for parents to give topmost priority to the education of their wards.

Alhaji Ibrahim Abdullahi, the Speaker, Nasarawa State House of Assembly, has urged parents and guardians to provide good education and proper upbringing of their children for a better society.

The speaker made the appeal in a statement issued by his Press Secretary, Alhaji Jibrin Gwamna, and made available to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Keffi on Sunday.

Abdullahi described education as the best instrument to fight poverty and other related abuses on children, hence the need for parents to give topmost priority to the education of their wards.

The speaker described children as special gifts from God while urging parents to take adequate care of them for a prosperous society.

He also urged parents to live an exemplary life by inculcating good moral values on their children.

Education is the leeway to success in life and a route to escape from poverty box, and it is the bed rock of any society as knowledge is power.

“When one is well informed, he or she can move to places beyond his local environment,” the statement said.

Abdullahi condemned violence against children, calling for all hands to be on deck in order to fight violence against violence.

He congratulated the children on their day, describing the day as unique and worth celebrating.

According to him, there will be permanent peace in the society if parents instill moral values on their children and to live a life worth of emulation for the overall development of the country.

Besides, the speaker called for special prayers for the survival, good health and growth of children as leaders of tomorrow.

He underscored the need for all, especially leaders, to brace up and put smiles on the faces of children, especially the less privileged.

Abdullahi restated the commitment of the state legislature to continue to pass resolutions and enact laws that have direct bearing on the lives of the children.

He enjoined the people of the state and Nigerians at large to be law abiding, respect constituted authorities and to live in peace for the overall development of the country.


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New Zealand: Decile funding system changes in education will not be successful if made in isolation

New Zealand/May 29, 2018/Source:

Education is one of our most critical sectors, and it is hardly surprising, therefore, that education policies and practices are often among the most controversial.

Government ministers want to make their mark on the portfolio, research and other international developments offer continually evolving ways of looking at the way in which we teach and learn, societal changes mean schools increasingly take on a larger role in children’s lives – all of which can mean increased funding pressures and regular changes to systems, processes, learning models, curriculums, and measures of achievement.

Those changes, and increasing immigration and mobility, mean parents have often learnt in different places and ways to their children, which can make understanding new systems and supporting children in their learning difficult, too.

The overall result can be one of confusion and alienation, when parents should be able to rest assured their school is equipping their child with what they need in order to go confidently and competently out into the world.

Various reports over the past decades have highlighted increasing inequality in educational achievement. Alongside that, the egalitarian notion of a free state education is fast becoming a myth, as the cost of the basics, plus «voluntary» donations for all the extras, puts immense pressure on families.

Political parties, unions, school boards, teaching staff, parents and children may have very different ideas about various education policies, yet it seems, when it comes to the latest debate – over the school decile funding system – there is a consensus.

The 20-plus-year-old system was designed to allocate funding and staff to schools according to the socioeconomic demographic of the surrounding area, yet it has had the undesirable effect of being used by parents as a perceived measure of educational standard, leading to distorted rolls, zoning implementations, and the use of terms such as «educational apartheid» and «white flight» as middle-class parents snub local low-decile schools.

The previous National-led Government had planned a new funding system based on the risks of each student underachieving (draft factors included ethnicity, mother’s income and age when she gave birth, and whether the male caregiver was not the biological father), and the new Labour-led coalition Government still plans to adopt the system – although it will make some alterations and has just said it will defer the introduction for a couple of years while it sorts out funding. Education Minister Chris Hipkins is also anxious to ensure the new system does not simply end up transferring stigma from schools to individual children (even though the data to be used will be anonymised) and, in line with this thinking, he has also renamed National’s «risk index» an «equity index».

While change is clearly necessary, care and caution are essential for the sake of stability for the country’s educators and learners. It is vital to ensure there are no unintended negative consequences. It is also timely to examine whether a significant funding boost is required to help the sector cope with the diverse demands on it today.

An egalitarian education system remains an admirable and worthwhile aim, yet achieving that will be impossible in isolation. Until the yawning socio-economic disparities are addressed elsewhere, their effects will inevitably continue to be felt in the classroom – no matter how well-meaning any government or how dedicated the country’s teachers.


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South Africa: Equal Education – Request to Not Have Contact With School Children Is ‘Broad’ and ‘Unjustified’

South Africa / 28.05.2018 / From:

While Equal Education (EE) is keen to meet with Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer over sexual misconduct allegations against its former staff members, it is concerned by her request that the organisation not engage with any pupils in the province in the interim.

The civil society organisation recently established an independent inquiry after allegations surfaced against former general secretary Tshepo Motsepe, former head of national organising Luyolo Mazwembe, and former treasurer Doron Isaacs.

Schäfer demanded that EE give an undertaking by 17:00 on Tuesday that it would cease operating in provincial schools until it had met and discussed a way forward.

«Should we not receive such undertaking, we shall instruct our schools not to allow anybody from Equal Education, and who is not a [pupil] at the school, onto school premises,» she said in a statement on Monday.

EE responded on Tuesday that it was committed to ensuring a safe environment in which its staff, members and volunteers could engage.

It welcomed an opportunity to speak with Schäfer and said it would propose an urgent meeting.

However, it felt her request was broad and unjustified.

Provincial EE head Noncedo Madudube said in a statement that a blanket restriction in the province would curtail the right of freedom of association for its members.

Some of its members were high school pupils and were free to interact as they pleased after hours or outside of school premises.

«We therefore understand her request to be for an undertaking that EE’s staff members will not engage [pupils] in the Western Cape in person during school hours and on school premises. In this regard, EE’s staff/volunteer engagement with [pupils] in the Western Cape does not primarily take place within school premises and during school hours.»

What is ‘broad and unjustified’?

Schäfer clarified to News24 on Tuesday that she wanted to ensure that members of EE who were not pupils, did not participate in any activity on school premises until the education department could clarify the extent to which the men interacted with pupils at schools this year.



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