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Internationally comparable learning tests pave the way for education reform in Africa

Makhtar Diop's picture
Also available in: Français

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.

Niger and Lake Chad Basin countries take important strides towards building climate resilience, in line with Paris Agreement

Jennifer J. Sara's picture

Climate change imposes stark challenges in West and Central Africa, where droughts and floods are already frequent. Vast portions of the region’s populations are poor, dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and unable to prepare and respond adequately to extreme weather events. Weak monitoring and information systems, absence of proper infrastructure, and limited governance capacity render countries in the region unable to manage their climate risks, threatening food and energy security, economic development, ecosystem health, and overall regional stability.

Do changes in the CPI provide a reliable yardstick to measure changes in the cost of living?

Andrew Dabalen's picture
Also available in: Français

This blog is the latest in a series of posts reflecting on the findings in the 2016 World Bank Poverty in a Rising Africa report, released in its entirety this month. We look forward to your questions and comments regarding this and other blogs in the series.

The consumer price index (CPI) is the most commonly used measure of inflation in the world, and Africa is no exception. But do CPIs reliably reflect the actual change in the cost of living? And if not, how does this affect our understanding of how poverty has evolved in the region?

The CPI is derived from a fixed and supposedly representative basket of goods and services provided in the domestic market to measure a cost-of-living index. To keep up with changing consumption patterns, the basket weights need to be updated regularly. But often they are not. Most get updated every decade or even less frequently, so they become less and less representative of the items that consumers actually purchase.

Innovative Africa for a better tomorrow

Teodoro De Jesus Xavier Poulson's picture
Despite a decade of strong growth, Sub-Saharan Africa still faces a number of social and economic challenges. These range from access to education, off-the-grid electricity, clean water, job creation and public infrastructure. While there is no silver bullet, one word is inspiring millions – innovation.

What will Kenya’s urban future look like for newborns James and Maureen?

Dean Cira's picture

Last year two of my friends welcomed new babies into their families: James and Maureen (not their real names). Both babies were born in Metropolitan Nairobi - the fastest growing urban area in the country. Their births added to the growing urban popluation in Kenya, which will double to 24 million by 2035 and more than triple to 40 million by 2050. The Kenya Urbanization Review projects that by that time, that there will be nearly as many Kenyans living in urban areas as there are Kenyans today. Kenya’s urban transition has begun.

The work of women in Nigeria

Sara Johansson de Silva's picture

In Nigeria, Africa’s largest and most populous country, more women are engaging in work than ever before. By 2011, more than half (57%) of women 15-64 years old were in some form of employment. The increase in women working has been driven by women with the least amount of schooling finding work –these are the women who are more likely to be out of work than those who have had access to more schooling.

Once poor, forever poor?

Hai-Anh H. Dang's picture

Static poverty measures fail to distinguish between an individual who has been in poverty all her life, and another who happens to have had a small misfortune for the year the measurement was carried out. But these distinctions matter. The forces that conspire to condemn some individuals to remain stuck in poverty for years are generally somewhat different from those that randomly drag them down for a brief period. The latter group may need only some temporary relief – perhaps only some short-term employment insurance till they get the next job – while the former would need also longer-term interventions aimed at breaking the persistence of poverty. Indeed, the longer people spend in poverty, the lesser tends to be their chance of exiting it. As Africa rose, has its poverty remained mainly chronic, or has it become a more transient state of affairs?

La réalité sur les indices des prix à la consommation en Afrique

Isis Gaddis's picture
Also available in: English

Les indices des prix à la consommation (IPC) font parfois l'objet de débats houleux. En 2013, les projets de l'administration américaine visant à revoir l’indexation des prestations de sécurité sociale sur l’inflation a déclenché une vague de manifestations parmi les employés fédéraux (a). La nouvelle méthode, qui reposait sur une nouvelle version de l’IPC, était conçue pour s’ajuster plus précisément au comportement de substitution du consommateur. Ainsi, les consommateurs auront tendance à acheter des fraises à la place des myrtilles si le prix des myrtilles augmente de manière disproportionnée. L’absence de prise en compte de ce facteur crée un biais de substitution dans l’IPC. Néanmoins, cette mesure s'est avérée extrêmement impopulaire, notamment parce qu’elle a été perçue, selon les mots de Paul Krugman, comme « une réduction pure et simple des prestations » (a). Le président Obama a finalement abandonné la proposition.

A glimpse behind the curtain: CPIs in Africa

Isis Gaddis's picture
Also available in: Français

Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) can be subject of heated debate. Plans by the US administration in 2013 to modify the way social security benefits are adjusted for inflation led to protests of federal workers. The new method, which involved a shift from one version of the CPI to another, was designed to make the adjustment more sensitive to consumer substitution behavior. For instance, consumers may shift from blueberries to strawberries if the price of blueberries increases disproportionately – failure to account for such behavior change leads to ‘substitution bias’ in the CPI. However, the move proved deeply unpopular, in part because it was perceived – in Paul Krugman’s words – as “purely and simply, a benefit cut”. Eventually, President Obama dropped the proposal.

Le développement, c’est aussi et toujours de savoir lire et écrire

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Also available in: English

Aujourd'hui, en Afrique, quatre enfants sur cinq en âge de fréquenter l’école primaire sont effectivement scolarisés, sachant en outre que d’autres commencent l’école plus tardivement. Il s’agit d’un changement majeur et d’une grande avancée, et cela devrait être de bon augure pour les générations futures du continent. Il y a seulement deux décennies, à peine la moitié des enfants africains allaient à l’école. Les progrès ont été encore plus rapides pour les filles, puisque l’écart avec les garçons en matière de taux de scolarisation en primaire n’est plus que de quatre points de pourcentage (contre huit en 1995).

L’attention portée à l’éducation s’est accrue considérablement à la suite de l’adoption des objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement en 2000. Les progrès de la scolarisation ont été tels que l’éducation a perdu la place prioritaire qu’elle occupait auparavant dans l’ordre du jour des instances internationales. Depuis 2000, on s’attelle aux solutions, le problème de l’analphabétisme semble sous contrôle, et l’attention s’est portée ailleurs.

Or, comme l’a montré récemment la Banque mondiale dans son rapport intitulé Poverty in a Rising Africa, 42 % des adultes en Afrique sont toujours analphabètes (contre 46 % en 1995), soit près de deux adultes sur cinq, ce qui correspond au nombre colossal de 215 millions de personnes. En outre, cela ne signifie pas que le reste de la population maîtrise la lecture et l’écriture. Les tests utilisés pour évaluer ces aptitudes sont rudimentaires, et le taux brut de scolarisation dans le secondaire n’est toujours que de 46 %.