eWENR, May/June 2000: Africa
In 1969, it was estimated that four out of five women in Africa were illiterate. More than 30 years later, half of all African women still cannot read or write. Based on the latest projections for the period from 1990 to 2005, the greatest literacy gains among adult women will be in Sub-Saharan Africa and the countries of North Africa. According to these estimates, the number of literate women will have increased from 41 percent in 1990 to 60 percent in 2005 in Sub-Saharan Africa, and from 37 percent to 56 percent during the same period in the Arab states.
— International Association of Universities
University lecturers throughout the country recently launched a sit-down strike to demand better pay and working conditions. The strike began after negotiations broke down between the University Teacher’s Association and the Ministry of Education.
The association has been pressing for a salary of US$4,600 a year for lecturers and about $8,000 for professors. One professor said the grievances for higher salaries and better conditions have fallen on deaf ears for the past five years and that it was now time to take a different course of action.
The minister of education denounced the strike, calling it counterproductive.
— Panafrican News Agency
May 16, 2000
Despite substantial increases in the education budget, recent data indicate that enrollment, access and completion rates have fallen significantly in the last 10 years or so. Statistics show that the overall completion rate in primary schools from 1992 to 1999 was a mere 47 percent, with 46 percent for boys and 48 percent for girls.
Moreover, it is estimated that only 20 percent of those enrolled in primary school reach the secondary school level. Similar problems exist at the university level.
There are a number of factors that account for Kenya’s high dropout rate, which is contributing to the country’s illiteracy. In much of the country, for instance, there are not enough schools and children have to walk great distances to get to classes each day. As a result, many of them stop attending school.
Another problem has to do with the overloaded curriculum. Students are overwhelmed by the huge amount of course work they are expected to cover at each level of education. In addition, parents and students do not think that an education will lead to jobs after graduation. Exacerbating matters, the high unemployment rate is likewise causing students to give up on their education: If there are no jobs after they graduate, why bother going to school at all?
Political factors have also contributed to the rising dropout and declining enrollment rates. In the Rift Valley and some of the coastal provinces, tribal clashes have forced many pupils to leave school. As a result of the skirmishes, many teachers have been displaced, which has led to a decline in the quality of education in those areas.
Certain customs and cultural practices have also impacted negatively on education. Within some communities, female genital mutilation is still prevalent. According to many experts, girls who have undergone the trauma of circumcision cannot concentrate on their studies and tend to dropout of school altogether. Early pregnancies and the AIDS epidemic have also contributed to the steady increase in student dropouts.
Drug addiction is another related problem. It is estimated that 47 percent of all high school students in Nairobi are taking drugs.
— The Nation
May 22, 2000
The University of Port Elizabeth will host this year’s first Conference on Information Technology in Tertiary Education (CITTE) in late June. The CITTE conference, organized by South African University and Technikon IT Directors Group, aims to bring together professionals and academics who work within the field of management and administration of Information Technology in higher education.
Participants exchange views, discuss issues and map out strategies for the future. Some of the more prominent issues this year include the use of the Internet and IT in the classroom, off-campus access to computers and access and control of access to IT in educational institutions. The conference was first held in 1996 when South African University and Technikon IT Directors Group decided to bring institutions together to focus on IT development.
Additional information about the conference can be found at www.upe.ac.za/citte2000.
May 18, 2000
A new open university is scheduled to begin offering classes and degree programs sometime this year to facilitate part-time higher education in Uganda. In particular the new institution will cater to financially underprivileged students by offering tuition reductions. A task force, formed in 1999 to study the modalities of establishing the proposed university, found that many people could not afford to leave their jobs to pursue higher education programs.
Over the past 10 years or so, the number of students completing the advanced level of secondary school has risen dramatically. The surplus of qualified students who are unable to gain access to higher education has put tremendous pressure on the country’s tertiary system.
— The Inter-University Council for East Africa Newsletter