The good news is that around the world more children than ever are going to school, but there is still so much more to do.
In schools across sub-Saharan Africa, children are not receiving the quality of education they need and many are forced to dropout or leave without vital basic skills. Outside of the classroom there are also huge inequalities to overcome, including poverty, discrimination and cultural attitudes that can prevent many children from having the chance to learn in the first place.
The challenge for communities
- Families don’t have enough income to meet their basic needs
Agriculture is often the main source of income for parents. However many farmers struggle without the right seeds, equipment or training in sometimes harsh environments. As a result, they become unable to provide food for their families, pay healthcare bills or afford their children's education.
- Inequalities stop vulnerable children from going to school
Minorities, children living with disabilities, and girls are at a particular disadvantage as discrimination, abuse, early pregnancy and child marriage can stand in the way of their education.
- Parents can’t support their children’s learning
Without an education themselves, many parents are unable to nurture their child’s development at home. Cultural attitudes towards education can also stop families making education a priority for their children or engaging with teachers on important issues.
- Limited access to financial services
A lack of basic financial skills and limited access to banking services means that families can’t invest in their livelihoods or access vital support in times of need – leaving entire communities vulnerable to economic or environmental crisis and putting their children's future at risk.
The challenge for schools
- School environments are unsuitable and unsafe
Children in rural areas often struggle to have access to schools. When they do, classrooms can often be old, badly built, or insufficient in number – leaving children without an appropriate place to learn and play. Limited access to clean water and hygienic toilets also put children and teachers at risk of dangerous but preventable diseases.
- Teachers struggle without proper training
Training and mentoring is vital to quality teaching, but few staff receive support beyond their basic qualification. Teachers often have to use outdated or ineffective methods that cause children’s education to suffer and lead to higher dropout rates. Poor support can also lead to a lack of motivation, meaning teachers don't show up for work or use their skills properly.
- School resources are limited
Without access to age-appropriate textbooks, materials and games, children struggle to engage with their lessons and don’t find learning fun. Available resources are often poorly designed and don’t support their development.
- Poor policies put child welfare at risk
Essential policies and practices that keep schools functioning can be missing. These include comprehensive child protection and safeguarding policies, staff training on inclusiveness, and the basic management practices that enable children to get the most out of their education.