Africa: Southern Africa Has Low Levels of Trained Teachers

23 August 2018

WINDHOEK - There are low levels of trained teachers at secondary level and in some Southern Africa countries at primary level, according to the recently released SADC Gender Protocol 2018 Barometer report.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) states that the optimum learner-teacher ratio to promote effective teaching and learning is 1:25.

However, only three countries in Southern Africa, namely Botswana, Mauritius and Seychelles, meet this criteria. This impacts on the quality of education delivered in the classroom, according to the report.

To achieve universal primary and secondary education, UNESCO advises that sub-Saharan Africa must see substantial growth in the number of educators.

According to the report, sub-Saharan Africa will need to train an additional four million primary school teachers and 11 million secondary school teachers over the next 12 years.

"Government expenditure on education must increase and be optimally utilised if the region is to realise its educational goals," according to the report.

Spending on education in the SADC region ranges from a low of six percent in Zambia to a high of 30 percent in Zimbabwe. Namibia is at 26 percent.

This year's budget in Namibia saw the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation receive N$3.2 billion and about N$9.8 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

This entails: N$960 million for the University of Namibia, N$600 million for Namibia University of Science and Technology and N$1.45 billion for the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund in respect of fiscal year 2018/19. The basic education ministry received N$13.5 billion

Furthermore, UNESCO recommends at least six percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) should be allocated to education.

In SADC, eight countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, eSwatini and Zimbabwe have met this target and allocate six percent or more of their GDP to education, the report highlights.

Zambia at only one percent is the lowest in the entire SADC region, Tanzania is at three percent, Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo are at a lowly two percent.

Angola is at three percent, Comoros is at four percent. The highest is Lesotho at eleven percent, Botswana at ten percent, Namibia at eight percent and South Africa at six percent.

According to the report, it appears impressive that the eight SADC countries have reached or exceeded the recommended level of spending for education.

However, a review of their performance at different schooling levels and tertiary level is not hugely different from those countries that spend less than six percent of their GDP on education.

"This raises two key points - the region needs further investment in education, especially in the eight SADC countries that are underspending and the region needs a review of current spending on education to identify wastage, misappropriation and misallocated funds," according to the report.

The 2017 barometer highlighted the SADC Policy Framework on Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL). Its goal is for SADC children and youth to realise their rights to education, safety, protection, care and support through an expanded and strengthened education sector response.

DRC, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, eSwatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe have begun implementing the policy.

"It is imperative that all other countries adopt and implement the CSTL. The Mozambique Ministry of Education uses the CSTL policy framework to change the teaching and learning environment which has improved the quality of education in Mozambique," the report says.

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