Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

The free education is a weapon against underdevelopment in Africa

Africa is, according to UNESCO, the continent with the most illiterates in the world. In one of its reports the organization goes further and indicates that in 2015, nearly 58 million African children did not have access to education. The situation is more alarming in sub-Saharan African countries where half of women can neither read nor write.

Concerned about the importance of education in a society that wants to develop and be the master of its destiny, several African leaders have decided to make education a major challenge by giving it a place of choice in their program. policy. Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, Sierra Leone, Cameroon are part of the long list of African countries that have decided to suspend tuition fees in public schools. In some countries the measure does not only concern primary education but also affects secondary education.


Often presented in Africa as a model in education, Tanzania has for several years made “Education for All” a major challenge. Julius Nyerere, the first Tanzanian president himself a teacher, understood that the development of his country was imperative to go through education. For years this country has multiplied the reforms and invested large sums of money to lighten the spot to the parents by exempting them from any school fees for the registration of their children in the public schools of the country. These measures have borne fruit quickly because free education has led to a real change especially in the primary school where the enrollment rate estimated at 59% in 2000 rose to 94% in 2011 once the free of charge primary school established. Among the satisfactory results, there is also an increase in the number of teachers and quality infrastructures.


In Kenya, the introduction of free education in 2003 is the initiative of President Mwai Kibaki. Five years after its implementation, this measure has been extended to secondary schools. The goal here was to make education accessible to children from underprivileged backgrounds estimated at three and a half million in the country. In its initiative to make education accessible to all, the Kenyan government, in addition to disbursing large sums of money, has benefited from a large number of external aid, particularly from UNICEF in the United Kingdom of Sweden, but also from organizations such as as the World Bank and OPEC. Tanzania and Kenya are not isolated examples, they just add to a long list of countries in southern and eastern Africa that have long before decided to abolish school fees. These countries include Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia. Some countries have realized that poverty weighs heavily on the out-of-school age of school-aged children.


Today other countries such as Sierra Leone have entered the movement. President Julius Maado Bio when he took office in April 2018 had promised to introduce from the next school year free education in primary and secondary in this country of 6.3 million people where the The vast majority of teenagers are illiterate according to a Unesco report that dates from 2015. President Julius Maado Bio who recommended to parents to continue to provide their offspring with shoes and uniforms while continuing their role of framing home has solved himself to finance his educational program by putting the funds into his salary. Julius Maado Bio also relies on the support of some development partners and the private sector. Parents who refuse to send their children to school despite free education are subject to threats of fines and even imprisonment.

While the elimination of school fees has created a real boom in the number of children enrolled in the countries that have adopted it, some challenges remain, particularly in the implementation of measures to manage the flow of enrollments. Emphasis must also be placed on the quality of teaching provided to students in public schools. Follow-up measures are also needed to ensure that a significant number of girls have access to education. The latter in rural areas are often confined to domestic chores.

Education remains an essential development issue. To encourage education to become involved in the fight against underdevelopment and the reduction of social inequalities among others. Africa, which is still struggling to accelerate its economic transformation, would greatly benefit from further developing education at primary, secondary and higher levels. Do not say that “A free people is an educated people”!


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