TF092480-CROSS COUNTRY STUDY ON EDUCATION IN AFRICA
Summary: As in most countries worldwide, Sub-Saharan African countries are striving to build their human capital so they can compete for jobs and investments in an increasingly globalized world. In this region, which includes the largest number of countries that have not yet attained universal primary schooling, the ambitions and aspirations of Sub-Saharan African countries and their youth far exceed this basic goal. Over the past 20 years, educational levels have risen sharply across Sub-Saharan Africa. Already hard at work to provide places in primary schools for all children, most countries of the region are also rapidly expanding access to secondary and tertiary levels of education. Alongside this quantitative push is a growing awareness of the need to make sure that students are learning and acquiring the skills needed for life and work. Achieving education of acceptable quality is perhaps an even greater challenge than providing enough school places for all. Thus, Sub-Saharan African countries are simultaneously confronting many difficult challenges in the education sector, and much is at stake. This book gives those concerned with education in Sub-Saharan Africa an analysis of the sector from a cross-country perspective, aimed at drawing lessons that individual country studies alone cannot provide. A comparative perspective is useful not only to show the range of possibilities in key education policy variables but also to learn from the best performers in the region. (Although the report covers 47 Sub- Saharan African countries whenever possible, some parts of the analysis center on the region's low-income countries, in particular, a sample of 33 low-income countries). Although countries ultimately must make their own policy choices and decide what works best in their particular circumstances, Sub-Saharan African countries can benefit from learning about the experiences of other countries that are faced with, or have gone through, similar development paths. Given the large number of countries included in the analysis, the book finds that Sub-Saharan African countries have more choices and more room for maneuver than will appear if attention were focused on only one or a few country experiences. Countries can make better choices when understanding the breadth of policy choices available to them. They are well advised, however, to evaluate the applicability of policy options to their contexts and to pilot and evaluate the results for performance and subsequent improvement.
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