The Impact of COVID-19 on Secondary Education in Africa

Economic contraction in Africa due to COVID-19 threatens the ability of countries to invest in secondary education at a time when demand is increasing.   This will have long term impacts on the future of Africa’s labour force, which requires the skills gained through high quality and relevant secondary education to adapt to a digitized, fast changing, and globalized world of work.

Demand for secondary education is increasing due to rising primary completion rates and a growing youth population.  Great progress has been made in ensuring access to primary education for the continent’s youth, faster than many other developing regions at comparable starting points.  By 2018, gross enrollment rates in primary education in Sub-Saharan Africa had increased to almost 99 percent.[1]  While growth in primary completion rates has stalled in recent years, rising enrollment and completion rates over the last decade have placed increasing pressure on secondary education systems.  According to one estimate, just one in three adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa who qualify for secondary school can currently be accommodated due to limited places.[2]

At the same time, Africa’s youth population is expected to nearly double to 456 million by 2050. By 2075, almost half of the world’s young people will be African.[3]  These demographic shifts will have profound effects on secondary education systems. Read more…


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