On Sunday, many fathers around the world received cards and gifts from their children in celebration of Father’s Day. But fathers who have been following the academic and policy debates in the development community may feel somewhat exasperated that the role of men in the household and of fathers in raising children gets so little mention. It is the role of mothers that generally takes the spotlight; but what about fathers?
Despite much progress over the last two decades, girls still have lower levels of educational attainment on average than boys at the secondary school level in Uganda. In part this is because many girls are married or have children before the age of 18—often before they are physically and emotionally ready to become wives and mothers. Educating girls, ending child marriage, and preventing early childbearing is essential for girls to have agency, as future wives and mothers, and for Uganda to reach its full development potential.
A year ago, if you had asked me how best a child could reach its potential, I would have looked through my myopic, public health, physician’s lens, and responded that making sure children (0-5years) are healthy and well-nourished is all it takes.
However, six months into the World Bank’s “Africa Early Years” fellowship and I realize I would have been abysmally wrong.
Un bon proviseur, ça change tout.
« L’on pense communément qu’un bon proviseur est la clef d’une école à succès. » C’est aussi ce que pensent Branch, Hanushek, et Rivkin dans leur étude sur les effets du rôle des proviseurs dans l’apprentissage des élèves. Mais comment peut-on mesurer la qualité d’un proviseur ? En utilisant une base de données provenant du Texas, aux États-Unis, ils ont employé la méthode de la valeur ajoutée, employée d’habitude pour mesurer la performance des enseignants. Ils ont contrôlé les informations générales sur les élèves (telles que le genre, l’origine ethnique, et un indicateur de pauvreté) ainsi que les résultats d’examens scolaires de l’année précédente. Ils se sont ensuite demandés comment l’apprentissage de ces élèves évoluait lorsque l’école changeait de proviseur ? Ils ont trouvé que lorsque la qualité d’un proviseur augmente d’un écart type de 1, l’apprentissage des élèves augmentait d’un écart type de 0,11. Même après quelques ajustements statistiques additionnels, leurs estimations les plus rigoureuses montrent « qu’une augmentation d’un écart type de 1 dans la qualité du proviseur, se traduit pour un écart type de plus ou moins 0,05 en bénéfice d’apprentissage moyen pour l’élève, soit, l’équivalent de deux mois additionnels d’apprentissage. »
As I write these lines, I am sitting in an airplane returning from my first mission in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. My mission was for the education sector, and included visiting a few lower secondary public schools. As I listen to the pilot’s welcoming message, I find myself thinking about the children I met at the schools, and trying to assess the odds of their becoming pilots, engineers or scientists.
There has been an increase in attention on Africa’s changing population. Academics, development organizations and the media (among others, BBC, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Economist) have highlighted Africa’s late demographic transition – the population is young and will remain so for a long time, as fertility rates are not falling there at the same rate as they have fallen in the rest of the world.
Of the total US$15.4 billion pledged by the international community at the end of the first day of the meeting of the Consultative Group on Côte d’Ivoire held on May 17, 2016 in Paris, the World Bank Group (IDA, IFC, MIGA) will commit the sum of US$5 billion (CFAF 2500 billion) to finance Côte d’Ivoire’s Second National Development Plan (NDP) covering the period 2016-2020. This amount is double the sum allocated during the previous period (2012-2016), proof—if any were needed—that the World Bank is more than ever committed to helping Côte d’Ivoire achieve emerging country status. This new country partnership framework between the World Bank Group and Côte d’Ivoire is an important milestone.
Most parents in Africa will tell you that their children’s education is the most important investment they can make. Over the past decade, great progress has been made in terms of getting children into school, with countries such as Benin, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia recording primary net enrollment of over 90 percent. But across the continent, primary school completion and youth literacy rates remain unacceptably low.
Today, four in five African primary-school-age kids are enrolled in school, with more joining at a later age. This is a major change and achievement, and should bode well for Africa’s upcoming generations. Only 20 years ago, barely half the kids were in school. Progress has been faster even for girls, with the gender gap in net primary school enrollment now down to four percentage points (compared with eight percentage points in 1995).
Following the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, attention to education increased dramatically. At least in terms of enrollment, this seems to have paid off, so much so that education has lost its earlier top spot on the international development agenda. Since 2000, the solutions train has been set in motion, the illiteracy challenge seems to be taken care of, and attention has shifted elsewhere.
Against this background, the latest Word Bank report “Poverty in a Rising Africa” finds that 42% of Africa’s adults, about two in five, or a whopping 215 million people, are still illiterate, down from 46% in 1995. And make no mistake; this does not imply functional literacy for the remaining part of the population. The literacy tests applied are simply too rudimentary, and gross secondary school enrollment rates also only still stand at 46%.