6 Achieve universal primary education
Where are we?
Success factors, challenges and policy responses
The potential for greater progress in education performance is related to the considerable investments that have been made in the physical infrastructure (schools and school equipment) over the past decade to adjust to demographic movements. The recent doubling of teachers’ salaries has also resulted in attracting and retaining a more professional cadre. The government’s focus over the medium to longer term is on improving the quality of education and achieving education outcomes. Currently, the focus is on improving implementation of education strategies and action plans. As is the case with many other sectors, strategies and laws are in place, but the capacities and resources needed to implement them are deficient. Also, despite the increase in teacher salaries, much remains to be done in the area of teacher training and education, with training seen as a major determinant of improved educational quality.
With regard to the overall capacity of the education system, existing vertical coordination mechanisms between central and local authorities, as well as horizontal coordination at both levels, remain weak. Coordination is suboptimal due to poorly defined responsibilities and accountabilities. Information, data and systems for reporting and monitoring continue to be deficient, especially in addressing pockets of marginalization, low enrolment and drop-out patterns. Government is currently developing a set of indicators designed to detect such marginalization.
In light of the above-noted challenges, the longer-term goal of government is to develop a sustainable education system. In addition to the necessary financial and human resources, such a sustainable system is to be based on sound governance (improved policy making and management capacities), increased cost-effectiveness, with a focus on quality of outcome, and strengthened institutional capacities. A related policy priority is to continue to develop the teaching profession. Combined with major reforms in pre-school education, there will be a greater likelihood that the 2015 targets will also be met.
The government’s policy responses are not just limited to improved targets at the national or aggregate level. As implied in the preceding discussion, the redesign of the supply side of the education system will address the needs of rural, urban and suburban areas, each with their own distinctions. School concentration, setting up of school boards and free bussing are important measures aimed at better access. Other government programmes will focus on the demand and social dynamics of the system to increase enrolment ratios and outcomes. For example, special task forces may be set up consisting of experienced and well respected teachers, psychologists, parents and government representatives. These will work with parents of non-enrolled students, and find ways and means of economic support to poor families and other marginalized groups, such as the Roma.
The 8 Millennium Development Goals
- 1 Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty
- 2 Achieve universal primary education
- 3 Promote gender equality and empower women
- 4 Reduce child mortality
- 5 Improve maternal health
- 6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- 7 Ensure environmental sustainability
- 8 Develop a global partnership for development
Targets for MDG2
- Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
- Net enrolment ratio in primary education
- Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
- Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men