UNESCO welcomes African Union’s declaration of 2024 ‘Year of Education’ | Education

UNESCO welcomes the African Union’s decision to dedicate 2024 to education, and the ambitious objectives it announced this week in Addis Ababa. While much progress has been made in recent years on the continent, this new collective mobilization is an important step to ensuring quality education for all. 

The African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa has just officially declared 2024 the “Year of Education”, calling on all governments to accelerate progress towards achieving quality education for all.  

Significant progress has been made in broadening access to education in Africa over the past few decades. The out-of-school population in Sub-Saharan Africa at primary and secondary levels dropped from 44% in 2000 to 29% in 2020 – as referenced in the latest UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report 2023. During this period, the youth literacy rate in sub-Saharan Africa increased from 66% to 77.5%,  and the adult literacy rate from 52.6% to 64.3%.

African countries’ ambitions to improve access to quality education for all children are also evidenced in a new UNESCO scorecard released on 7 February. It shows that African States are committed to reducing primary out-of-school rates from 19% in 2022 to 11% by 2025. They are also committed to ensuring that 79% of teachers at the pre-primary level and 85% at the primary level are trained, given the significant shortage of qualified teachers across the continent. 

 

Addressing the funding gap and teacher shortage

Despite this progress and these commitments, Africa is still home to the largest out-of-school population in the world: 98 million school-aged population do not go to school. And nearly 9 in 10 children who are in school cannot read and understand a simple text by the age of 10. This is why the African Union’s decision to dedicate 2024 to education is so important. During this year, solutions to two major challenges will be discussed across the continent with the support of UNESCO: the funding gap and the teacher shortage.

According to UNESCO, an additional $77 billion is needed annually for African countries to reach their national education targets and provide quality education for all. Yet despite this need, development aid to education in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 23% in the last recorded year. Students also need more qualified teachers: 15 million must be recruited by 2030 to achieve universal primary and secondary education in Africa.

 

Magic System launches an anthem to promote this year of education

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador A’Salfo and his internationally acclaimed Ivorian band, Magic System, launched a new version of the band’s hit song ‘Magic in the Air’ to mark the launch of Education as the African Union’s Theme of the Year 2024. Entitled ‘Education in the Air’, the song has been rewritten to promote education as a key lever to shape brighter futures for people and societies as a whole. 

The lead singer of Magic System who has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 2012, invites the group’s fans to film themselves dancing to the re-versioned song, with the hashtag #DanceForEducation. The best dance clips will make it into a music video to be launched in May to celebrate Africa Day. 

Earlier this month, UNESCO Director-General travelled to Abidjan where she met with H.E. Alassane Ouattara, the President of Côte d’Ivoire, and discussed UNESCO’s support to education in the country through a $45 million programme. On this occasion, the Director-General also met with A’Salfo and the whole Ivorian band Magic System at their Foundation to thank them for producing this anthem which will raise awareness among citizens about educational issues. 

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