Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Africa: Unesco - Youth Lack Skills for Decent Pay

MORE than 56 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa aged 15-24 have not completed primary school and need alternative pathways to acquire basic skills for employment and prosperity, a report by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has revealed.

This is equivalent to one in three of the entire region's youth population, according to UNESCO, in its tenth edition of the Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report titled; 'putting education to work,' which was released in Dar es Salaam yesterday. The report says the growing youth population in sub- Saharan Africa is such that the skills deficit is likely to get bigger.

Already, around two-thirds of the population in Africa is under 25-yearsold, the report says. It says that in the world, an eighth of young people are unemployed and a quarter is trapped in jobs that keep them on or below the poverty line, the report says, adding that as the effects of the global economic crisis continue to be felt, the severe lack of youth kills is more damaging than ever. If we want to break the cycle of poverty and marginalization, the report says, a quality and relevant education is essential from the first day that a student enters the classroom.

The report also gives an annual stock on every country's progress towards globally agreed education goals and shows that Tanzania has made laudable progress in education over the last couple of decades. It further says that gender parity in Tanzania has been achieved in primary education and by tripling its spending on education the government has also seen the enrolment ratio double in primary school.

However, according to the report, there are worrying trends that enrolments rate are decreasing for both pre-primary and primary education, citing the 2011/12 school year example. The report suggests that students are finishing Standard VII without the strong foundation they need to succeed at the secondary level and thereafter. Youth, particularly girls in rural areas, are facing challenges to continue past Standard VII as well as Forms II and IV.

Even after six years in school, the report shows that 13 per cent of young people aged 15-19 remained illiterate in 2005- 11 while 12 per cent emerged semi-literate. UNESCO representative to Tanzania, Vibeke Jensen, said in Dar es Salaam that though there was still much to do to reach the most marginalized five per cent who are not accessing education there is need to focus on learning outcomes and developing in every child the skills needed to problem solving, communicate and adapt to changing job environments."

Investing in young peoples' skills is a smart move for countries seeking to boost their economic growth. The report shows that farming field schools in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda increased crop value per acre by 32% on average across the three countries and by 253% for those who had not had any formal schooling.

The report also estimates that every one US dollar spent on a person's education, yields10-15 US dollars in lifetime.

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