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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Does education receive attention in Africa?

20th March 2012

There has been some good news here in our neck of the woods. Towards the end of last week press reports had it that Tanzania and Britain had at long last agreed on how the billions of shillings recovered from the controversial purchase of radar equipment would be spent. This radar equipment was contentiously bought from BA Systems of the United Kingdom.

The money will be ploughed into the education system in the country. This is a sagacious decision.

The education system needs all the assistance it can get. Indeed, not only in Tanzania but in most other African countries. And good decisions like this one of using the radar money to improve education in the country deserve to be applauded.

After all, it is generally agreed that no economic development can take place in a society until the people embrace values favourable to modernization and progress, as well as being trained in the basic skills needed in a transitional society.

It is worth noting that during the early 1960s economists found in their studies that, there was a correlation between the level of education and economic growth.

Africa needs to put infinitely more emphasis on the quality of our children’s education. We cannot afford to take the foot off the pedal because education is very much a sine qua non for development.

We need to borrow a leaf from other countries’ practice. India, for example has made progress in terms of increasing primary education attendance rate and expanding literacy to approximately two- thirds of the population.

India’s improved education system is often cited as one of the main contributors to the economic rise of the country and its growing braggadocio on the world stage.

Therefore, Africa would be well advised to take the education of her children seriously, otherwise we shall surely remain forever underdeveloped as we have already been dubbed.

Authorities here should do everything possible to ensure that the radar money is actually spent on education as it has been decided. There are certainly some corrupt individuals who are already designing all manner of ways to ensure that some of that money ends up in their pockets. This must, by all means be prevented.

Consider the case of South Africa where millions of Rand have been invested in the education sector, all to little effect.

For instance, according to the 2010 Global Corruption Barometer of the international corruption watchdog, Transparency International (TI), when respondents were asked how they viewed corruption in their country’s education system (one, being not corrupt and five, being very corrupt), South African respondents gave an average score of 2.6.

And in the West African country of Cameroon, the average score was 3.5. It seems then that not enough is being done for education and just like in every other facet of human endeavour in Africa, corruption plays an influential role here.

Since we have already established that education is a prerequisite for development, it is imperative for African governments to ensure that education receives the attention that such an important sector of the economy deserves.

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