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The Challenge:

African countries have made considerable progress in increasing access to education by channeling savings from debt cancellation, internal resources and development assistanceto the education sector. Between 1999 and 2005, sub-Saharan Africa's net primary enrolment (NER) grew at the fastest rate of any region, from 57% to70%. However, this is still the lowest in the world and 33 million children remain out of school.[1]

Investment in education, with a particular focus on girls is one of the highest-yield investments available to Africa. In addition to providing children with theskills for a productive life, it has been found to generate significant returnsin economic growth and health, as well as contribute to good governance, peace and security.

Key Commitments:

The core aims for education are stated in the UN Millennium Declaration. At the 2000 World Education Forum in Dakar, African countries and donors adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, a compact based on a series of mutual commitments towards the Education for All goals. Donors agreed to provide all necessary additional funding and expertise to countries that committed to prioritise primary education in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as well as produce detailed national education plans backed by increased domestic funding. The agreement resulted in the development of the Fast Track Initiative (FTI), a global partnership to accelerate progress towards the MDG to achieve universal primary education by 2015. This has received anumber of reiterated commitments of support from G8 summits, such as the Gleneagles Africa Communiqué, and the Growth and Responsibility in Africa Declaration, made at Heiligendamm, in addition to more wide ranging commitments made in the Kananaskis Africa Action Plan in 2002. Similarly, in the 2006 Brussels Framework for Action on Education for Sustainable Development, EU education ministers adopted a series of priorities, including support for the FTI, for Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) region.

In 2006, Africa embarked on its Second Decade of Education for Africa, with an increased emphasis on education quality and teacher training. Africa has also made a series of commitments to accelerate gender equality in education and training, such as the 2003 AU Protocol on the Rights of Women and the 2004 Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality.


[1] 2008 UNESCO EFA Global Monitoringreport