Post 2015 Development Strategies for Africa: Gender, Girl Child Development and Education

The African region has been a direct beneficiary of the Millennium Development Goals which has been the most successful global anti-poverty push in history (MDG Report, 2013). Significant and substantial progress has been made in meeting many of the targets; halving the number of people living in extreme poverty, visible improvements in all health areas as well as primary education. As the timeline of the MDG elapsed by 2015, progress towards the goals has been uneven. Some countries like Ghana achieved many goals, whiles others have not been on track to realize any. There is hence the need to focus on the prospects of the post 2015 agenda in areas of girl child education, accessibility to quality education, and gender equality for the African Region.

In the first place, education is a human right and a fulfilling experience that helps children reach their full potential in society. Millions of children in Africa are still out of school, and gender inequalities in education (for those enrolled in schools) persist in Sub-Saharan Africa to the detriment of girls. This is evidenced by the disparities in access to school as well as in enrolment, retention, completion and performance rates. It points to structural and systematic gender inequalities, which is partly reflected in education (State of the World’s Children, 2007). In moving forward to rectify the gender imbalances in education, more interventions and advocacy works needs to be enforced. For instance, the University of Ghana has introduced an even percentage of gender intake of admissions into various disciplines in order to ensure the elimination of enrolment competition that cripples the girl-child access to higher academic aspirations.

It is refreshing to note that stronger commitment to good-quality education, with the focus on learning, can be construed as perhaps the most important priority for the post 2015 development agenda in Africa (The Global Thematic Consultation on Education, 2013). There has been the debate that the focus on physical access in the current education and development agenda has come to the expense of quality teaching and learning. Good-quality education is equitable, relevant and also responds to learners’ diverse needs. Future education goals should emphasise on measuring learning and including a wide range of indicators; conducive learning environments, adequate and safe school buildings, school sanitation, participatory school governance structures and school-level policy that challenges all forms of discrimination. Also, post-basic education is also seen as crucial in enhancing skills for work, and for promoting national growth and development. One key area worth noting will be the enforcement of access to quality literacy for adults which will further enhance the quality of labour on our continent. The recent ‘influx’ of online resources can be harnessed to revamp self-learning.

One area which needs extra attention in the post 2015 development agenda is the widespread of violence against women in Africa and beyond. This basically violates and impairs the enjoyment by women of their human rights and fundamental freedom. Violence on women has compromised on the health, dignity and security and it includes sexual abuse, domestic harassments, girls trafficking and several harmful traditional practices. Strategies needed to combat this global menace beyond 2015 has to do with ensuring a strong advocacy on gender-based violence through constant sensitisations, education and communication projects by the United Nation partners and NGOs. Also, a quota representation in various legislative and decision making positions to champion the enforcement of gender related laws can be explored. Lastly, conducting research to tackle the menace scientifically in order to achieve precise results from the recommendations and findings of the research.

In sum, the areas needed to be emphasised on during the post 2015 development agenda includes the provision of quality and accessible education to both girls and boys and the ensuring of gender equality as women constitute a majority of the human resource of the continent. This will create the liberal environment for global development. The contribution by women can be visualised in the proverbial quote of the Ghanaian educator Dr. Kwegyir-Aggrey (1875-1927) that ‘if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation.’

Osei Sylvester wrote in from Ghana