It’s no secret that African governments are overwhelmed by Africa’s growing population and the rising demand for education. Most governments are incapacitated and unable to cope with the situation.The quality of education is declining. Schools have poor infrastructure, lack of access to resources and a ballooning teacher-pupil ratio. All of this shortchanges the learner. With a situation of this nature, it is not surprising that educational outcomes are not met satisfactorily. Yet the African population is hungry for education. It is widely believed across the continent that education is the stepping stone to success. With this in mind, what can be done for the continent to achieve its educational goals? This is where the private-sector players come into the picture.
What Does Private Education Mean In Africa?
In the context of Africa private education is not limited to high-cost schools and institutions which cater only to the elite. Although these are present in Africa, most people simply cannot afford. There is more space in the middle class and lower-income groups which make up the vast majority of Africans. According to the Foundation for Economic Education, in Nigeria, there are 14,000 low-cost private schools in Lagos state alone, enrolling 2.12 million children. Research from Nairobi (Kenya), Kampala (Uganda) and Accra (Ghana) showed similar results. An interesting statistic from Uganda shows that in Kampala, 84% of primary school-going children from poor areas attend private school.This is proof of concept, the figures show that it works. In most of these cases, schools and education institutions are fully sustainable business entities without government subsidies. The advantage of the schools is increased access to a better quality of education.
Why Invest In Africa’s Education?
There is a growing demand for education across the continent. Population figures reveal that 60% of Africa is under the age of 25. Additionally, there’s a significantly high birth rate and the population continues to grow. The public school system is unable to meet this demand and the private sector must bridge the gap. An investment in Africa’s education is not a completely philanthropic action. It is really a means by which a profitable investment takes on a conscience. There is room in Africa to grow and invest while creating a lasting impact on the continent. Impact investors, private-equity entities and African diasporans can plough back into the education sector in Africa. There is potential for youth to change the narrative of the dark continent. Financing education in Africa’s will switch on the lights for the continent and improve the future for young children. An educated populace will be better placed to find fitting solutions to the challenges that are currently choking Africa’s growth. Through education, there is a chance to rise above circumstances. Financing education in Africa is a step in the right direction towards transforming the motherland. To sweeten the pot there is money to be made on these investments.
Evelyn Shumba (freelance writer)
Finance and Education