African countries record remarkable success on MDG2

In this summary of the 2010 Report on MDGs in Africa, Ayodele Doyinsola shows that Africa has recorded significant lift in net primary enrollment and literacy rates but slow progress in completion rate.

Africa records progress in primary school enrollment rates (Picture Source:

In the 2010 report of the progress made in MDGs in Africa, it is clear that African countries are making giant strides to meet the 2nd MDG. Primary school enrollment rate and completion rates have significantly increased. According to the report, “African countries continue to perform well on most of the education targets. Net primary education enrollment has increased in all countries and the majority of African countries are likely to achieve this goal by the target date.”

The target is to ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling. Indicators include net enrollment in primary education, primary completion rate and youth literacy rate.

Primary education enrollment has increased in all countries but the rate of primary school completion does not match enrollment rates. In order to satisfactorily meet the target, necessary increase in expenditure on primary education is required. International aid, particularly from the UK government, contributed to the success achieved with the second MDG

Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso recorded increase in net enrollment  because of increased expenditure on primary education. However, The republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea reported sharp reversal in enrollment rates. In Congo, net primary enrollment dropped from 85% in 1991 to 60% in 2007 while in Equatorial Guinea, rate dropped from 98% in 1991 to 70% in 2007. Civil unrest and low government expenditure on primary education were implicated as causes of this decline.

According to the report, 27 countries will meet the target while 22 countries may not meet the target. Algeria, Egypt, Madagascar, Mauritius, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tunisia, and Zambia have achieved the 95% enrollment rate target. In 2007 seven countries -Burkina Faso, Central African republic, Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Mali, and Niger-reported a primary enrollment rate ranging from 37% to 58% points off-target.

Africa has recorded remarkable improvement in the literacy rate of 15 -24 yrs olds, one of the  indicators of the second MDG. In 2007, eight countries were less than 5% points away from reducing the rate of illiteracy between the specified age range, while another four countries were less than 10% points away.  In contrast, seven out of the 28 countries for which data are available fell short of the target by a wide margin. The report also shows that the availability of private schools contributed to enrollment rates.

It is evident that Africa has made progress in education targets. Strong political will demonstrated by Increased funding of primary education and international aid are key factors that can help sustain this gain.

Summary of the ‘Assessing Progress in Africa toward the Millennium Development Goals. MDG Report 2010’ on MDG2 by Ayodele Doyinsola, edited by Biodun Awosusi. 


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