What causes the lack of education in Africa? Well, it’s a complex issue with many nuances. But, you can mostly distill the causes down to the following main areas:
Of course, there are inherent problems within any nation, not just in Africa. What causes lack of education in Africa, or within an education system in general, is not limited to this list alone.
It can depend on many challenges distinct to each nation, such as socio-economic, geographical, and cultural circumstances.
What causes the lack of education in Africa
Concerning Africa, we’re providing here’s a summary of root causes, where many issues faced by Africa can be traced back to these main elements. This can all affect the role of education in Africa. Let’s take a look at them in more detail.
One of the most obvious and primary causes of a lack of education in Africa is “Poverty”.
As we all know most of the challenges Africans face daily are borne out of poverty and it’s the same for the lack of education.
People are struggling to survive day-to-day in many places, which has forced them to find low-paid and difficult, or dangerous work just to feed them and their families at least one meal a day.
This has taken the focus of education away from the lives of many people, including children. When survival is the key to daily life, education naturally takes a back seat.
Children are left to work to support their families financially and for them, education doesn’t come as the main need when compared to feeding themselves – as any humankind.
And because Africa is severely afflicted by poverty, the first barrier is that it’s simply too expensive for the majority of parents to send their children to school. Rather they prefer sending children to make an income to help support the family’s needs.
Poor health system and disabilities
The low-quality and poor health system is another critical crisis in Africa. Poor hygiene, including unhealthy sanitation practices, have all contributed to alarming health conditions throughout Africa.
It has also led to children falling sick – often with serious illness, and infants being born with disabilities. This has a significant impact on creating a stable education system for the children of the future.
If we look at a few WHO statistics in terms of medical doctors per head of population, we can see there is a lack of available health care through most of Africa when compared to the west.
Doctors per head of population
1 per 1000
1 per 1000
1 per 2000
1 per 5000
1 per 6000
1 per 10000
1 per 30000
1 per 384
1 per 173
Mostly as children fall sick and become stranded within poor health conditions, there tends to be a gradual inconsistent pattern of students being engaged with academics, which keeps them disengaged and eventually resulting in increased drop-outs.
On the other hand, as Africa is still combatting challenges to establish a standard education system, there tend to be no initiatives that are specifically directed towards talented children.
This keeps this segment of children undiscovered, or without access to suitable education facilities.
Lack of funds
It’s of no surprise that Africa is among the few countries that attract plenty of funds for eradicating their poverty-driven challenges.
According to Worldbank, half of the world’s poor population live within just five countries. three of which are in Africa...
“Of the world’s 736 million extreme poor in 2015, 368 million—half of the total—lived in just 5 countries. The 5 countries with the highest number of extreme poor are (in descending order): India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh”.
So, unfortunately, much of the funding that Africa receives becomes absorbed in providing basic survival provisions like food and health services.
Therefore, directing funds solely for education has been difficult for the African economy. Until other basic needs are adequately met, it’s difficult to justify spending on education.
But there is a pressing need to educate students in order to help tackle the other basic issues, here’s why education is important in Africa.
Lack of funds naturally makes it difficult to improve the education system, or to promote more free education to children, leaving children with a lack of free educational facilities.
Shortage of teachers
This is one of the biggest causes of the lack of education in Africa. The shortage of teachers is affected by several means in Africa. Firstly there aren’t enough teachers to accommodate every region in Africa – especially in more rural areas.
Secondly, there aren’t enough teachers who have the right qualification, experience, or skill set to diversify education into different sectors or fields, limiting the progress of higher education significantly.
Thirdly and most importantly, the shortage of teachers forces communities to arrange larger class sizes, where children within a region can learn at once with the teachers that are available.
Because of these larger classes, teachers aren’t able to focus on children who learn slowly, leading to education inequality, where slow learners are left out, causing frustration and eventually leading to drop-out.
Lack of learning materials
Children in Africa tend to suffer consistently from a lack of learning materials.
These are not just books, but labs, computers, boards, desks, chairs, and other educational materials that facilitate effective classroom learning.
Lack of learning materials makes it difficult for teachers to keep students engaged and attentive, and students find it difficult to cope with their learning without the necessary tools.
An overall lack of learning materials means that the overall learning process is made more difficult, not only for children but for teachers too. Children become less motivated and children do not stay focused on their academics, again this contributes to premature and increased drop-outs.
Brothers4change has provided resources and equipment to children around the world to aid them in their quest for education. We aim to support the funding gap that is education in Africa and other poverty stricken countries.
- Constructing new school buildings
- Acquiring water filters to provide daily clean water to students.
- Distributing solar lamps to students
Check out the five ways that anyone can help children in Africa.
Insufficient educational infrastructure
In many African regions, especially rural areas, the infrastructure facilities are simply inadequate.
This makes it difficult to build a school that is accessible for all eligible school ages children. And/or makes it difficult for teachers to commute.
And since they lack school bus facilities and transport infrastructure, and fewer people have cars, it becomes more difficult for parents to commute their children to school daily or for children to walk long distances daily.
All these either discourage parents from letting their children gain education or discourage children from wanting to gain an education.
Orphanism is becoming another increasing concern among the African economy.
With the rise in orphans, children are increasingly forced to suffer affordability issues with education when compared to normal kids.
With many poverty-stricken areas in the country, orphans are also then introduced ...or encouraged into child labor, prostitution, and robbery to make a living. Which makes education a non-essential need for them.
This not only deviates them from education but also doesn’t offer orphans enough time to focus on their academics, unlike children with a family.
Growing up in a homeless household gives African children fewer opportunities to gain any meaningful education. Other basic needs would first need to be met; namely food, water, shelter, and safety.
Homelessness also means people are more transient, changing shelters every now and then, which makes it difficult for children to regularly attend just one school.
Some of the funding mentioned previously is also utilized for building shelters for the homeless, again diverting funds for children’s education.
As African people are daily hit by waves of poverty, children at an early stage become vulnerable and desperate. Even if children were encouraged to go to school and educate themselves, poverty makes an impact on their mindset. Poverty makes it hard for people to give back in any way.
The vulnerability often forces them to resort to robbery, prostitution and other illegal activities purely to make a living.
While this is completely illegal and unethical, it has brought about several contradictions in terms of an ethical dilemma within African society.
Parenting & culture
Parenting and culture are thought to be the most indirect yet possibly the most powerful cause of the lack of education in Africa.
When considering parenting, the majority of parents have equally come from a poor educational background and tend to put little to no emphasis on learning.
The takeaway is that the more educated the parents are – or at least aware – of the importance of education, they'll be more likely to send their children to school.
Even though programs have been directed toward parents on the importance of education, culture tends to drive them in an opposing direction.
Africa follows some strict traditions that greatly promotes gender disparity (which is also why more men are educated than women and men receive higher wages than women) and considers education of less importance than getting married, for women, and working, for men.