Empowering the Future: International Day of the African Child and the Urgency of Education
Every child deserves a fair chance at success, regardless of their geographical location or socio-economic background. The International Day of the African Child, observed on June 16th each year, serves as a powerful reminder of the critical importance of education in unlocking the full potential of African children. At the core of Bridge International Academies, Nigeria is to provide life-changing education to millions of children regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, gender or race. As we commemorate the Day of the African Child, there is a need to reiterate and look into the pressing need for education in Africa and the transformative impact it can have on individuals, communities, and the continent as a whole.
This International Day of the African Child is arguably the most significant on record. 2023 is set to be the year when Sub-Saharan Africa leads the world as the region with the youngest people (0-14) – the size and acceleration of this age cohort are historically unprecedented.
But what does this shift mean for Africa and the World? The answer to this question will depend on the action or inaction of leaders – to embrace an immense opportunity or let it slip by.
Investing in education is investing in the future, and with Sub-Saharan Africa certainly not lacking potential with its rapidly growing population of young people, prioritizing fruitful education systems is essential.
The State of Education in Africa
Africa is a diverse and vibrant continent, rich in culture, resources, and human capital. Yet, it continues to grapple with numerous challenges, with access to quality education being a primary concern. According to UNESCO, approximately 59 million children in Africa between the ages of 5 and 17 were out of school in 2021. This statistic represents a significant barrier to progress and development, as education catalyzes empowerment, economic growth, and social change.
On the continent, Bridge International Academies has been setting the records for others to follow in delivering transformational learning outcomes, helping pupils in underserved communities learn.
Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
Education is a powerful tool for breaking the cycle of poverty that often plagues African communities. When children are provided with quality education, they acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to secure better employment opportunities in the future. This, in turn, allows them to contribute to their families and communities, lifting them out of poverty and reducing inequality.
In 5-10 years Africa will provide about half of the world’s increase in the working-age population – investing in future generations’ learning will determine the skill set of these world-shaping young people.
With the population of Sub-Saharan Africa skyrocketing, so does the demand for essential services like healthcare, infrastructure, and all the elements that create and maintain a prosperous society. Education is the foundation of these services and will provide a pathway for Africa’s young people to seize career opportunities.
On an economic level, the potential of embracing Africa’s youth population increase through education is clear. The World Bank estimates that one extra year of education correlates with 10% higher household income, and one extra year on average for a country translates overall to 2.5% higher GDP per capita.
Fostering Innovation and Economic Growth
Education plays a pivotal role in fostering innovation, creativity, and critical thinking, which are essential for economic growth. When African children receive quality education, they develop the skills necessary to adapt to a rapidly changing world. They become entrepreneurs, innovators, and problem solvers, driving sustainable development and contributing to the growth of their nations and the continent as a whole.
Promoting Peace and Stability
Education acts as a powerful force in promoting peace, stability, and social cohesion within communities. By providing children with quality education, we equip them with the tools to understand and address the root causes of conflicts, fostering tolerance, empathy, and mutual understanding. Education creates a generation of African children who can actively contribute to peaceful coexistence and the resolution of conflicts, thereby creating a more harmonious future.
Investing in the Future
To ensure the successful education of African children, a collective effort is required from governments, civil society organizations, communities, and individuals. Adequate funding, policy reforms, and infrastructure development are crucial to improve access to education. Additionally, investing in teacher training and support systems can enhance the quality of education and ensure children receive the knowledge and skills they need. Bridge International Academies, Nigeria is meeting this challenge. Since opening its doors in 2019, Bridge Nigeria has trained more than 1,500 teachers, amplifying their skillset to deliver high-quality lessons; and set up across 46 schools with innovative systems that support pupils, teachers, and parents.
Africa’s greatest asset is its young people. Their potential is exciting and unprecedented, and this International Day of the African Child we must empower potential by finally providing an education that achieves learning. Then the children of Africa will be able to deliver success not just for themselves, not just for Africa, but for the whole world.
On this International Day of the African Child, let us reiterate our commitment to providing quality education to every child in Africa. Education is not only a fundamental right but also a key driver of progress, empowerment, and prosperity. By investing in the education of African children, we invest in the future of the continent, unlocking its vast potential and ensuring a brighter tomorrow for generations to come. Together, let us create a world where every African child has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive.