Ministers of finance and education from Western and Central Africa have called for urgent reforms in education for better access to quality education for young people across the region.
The Ministers emphasised that advancing education reforms would require strong leadership, sound governance, better implementation, and more investments in high-impact interventions, and a whole-of-society and government approach.
This was in a joint call for action endorsed at the end of a one-day meeting in Accra on the new World Bank regional education strategy “From School to Jobs: A Journey for the Young People of Western and Central Africa.”
The strategy provided a roadmap for investments to improve learning and equip young people with the right skills to access productive jobs.
On primary education, the Ministers committed to reduce Learning Poverty, and expressed concerns about 10-year-olds who were unable to read and understand a short text, affecting more than 80 per cent of children across the region.
On secondary and tertiary education, the delegation agreed to focus on the importance of increasing girls’ secondary school enrolment, improve tertiary education enrolment, especially in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics and other disciplines relevant to the region’s labour markets, and monitor relevant indicators to track progress.
Acknowledging that the primary responsibility for implementing education reforms sat with governments, the Ministers highlighted the importance of adapting the priorities of the World Bank regional education strategy to the different country contexts and translating them into real investments and actions on the ground.
Mr Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa, said countries were committed to address challenges in the educational system and that the World Bank would mobilise to support them through financial resources and expert advice.
He said the World Bank currently was supporting the region with $3.1 billion in the education sector from basic to the higher level, hoping to double the amount by 2025.
He announced of the impending conference meeting on July 7, 2022, in Senegal to discuss World Bank financing for Africa for the next three years.
The support, he said, would focus on four areas- energy, agriculture, education, and digitisation, stressing that the parameters were interconnected to achieve holistic and effective education outcomes in the region.
The meeting was attended by ministers from 18 countries, as well as representatives from regional organisations and development partners, including the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, the US Agency for International Development and Japan International Cooperation Agency.