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International Review of Education

, Volume 60, Issue 2, pp 235–259 | Cite as

The case for investing in secondary education in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): challenges and opportunities

  • Birger Fredriksen
  • Camilla Helgø Fossberg
Article
  • 562 Downloads

Abstract

Over the next two decades, sub-Saharan Africa will face substantial pressure to expand its secondary education system. This is driven by the current low development of secondary education compared to other world regions, continued rapid population growth, the increase in the enrolment and completion rates at the primary education level, and the upsurge in the demand for skills. This paper suggests that in order to help countries respond to these pressures, external partners should now increase their support for secondary education, in terms of academic as well as technical and vocational skills training. Given the attributes of the African economies and the continuing need for foundation skills, this paper argues that in the current situation, particularly the lower secondary level will have to be strengthened, in many cases through a longer basic education cycle for all. The necessary rapid expansion of secondary education will require substantial investments, and this paper discusses how aid allocation can be made more evidence-based and used in a more strategic way to make these investments more effective and sustainable. While aid will continue to have a role to play over the next decade especially in fragile states, in the long run it is African countries’ capacity to achieve sustained economic growth which will be the single most important factor determining their ability to meet the financing needs.

Keywords

Secondary education Sub-Saharan Africa Education development policy Evidence-based aid allocation Sustained economic growth 

Résumé

Arguments en faveur de l’enseignement secondaire en Afrique subsaharienne : défis et opportunités – Au cours des vingt prochaines années, l’Afrique subsaharienne sera confrontée à une pression considérable d’étendre son système d’enseignement secondaire. Cette contrainte repose sur le développement actuellement faible de l’enseignement secondaire en comparaison des autres régions mondiales, la poursuite d’une croissance démographique rapide, la hausse des taux de scolarisation et d’achèvement dans l’enseignement primaire, et sur une forte augmentation de la demande en compétences. Les auteurs avancent que, pour aider les pays à réagir à ces pressions, les partenaires externes doivent accroître aujourd’hui leur soutien à l’enseignement secondaire, sur le plan de la formation scolaire, technique et professionnelle. En raison des conditions des économies africaines et du besoin continu en compétences de base, les auteurs soutiennent que dans la situation actuelle, l’enseignement secondaire inférieur devra être renforcé en priorité, dans de nombreux cas au moyen d’un cycle prolongé d’enseignement de base pour tous. La nécessité d’une expansion rapide de l’enseignement secondaire exigera d’importants investissements, et les auteurs analysent les moyens de rendre l’affectation de l’aide plus factuelle et son utilisation plus stratégique, afin que ces investissements soient plus efficaces et pérennes. L’aide financière aura un rôle à jouer au cours de la prochaine décennie notamment dans les États fragiles, mais la capacité des pays africains d’atteindre une croissance économique soutenue sera à long terme le facteur primordial qui déterminera leur aptitude à répondre à ces besoins de financement.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Education in the Africa Region of the World BankWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Education Section in the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)OsloNorway

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