‘53% of African kids cannot read at age 10’

-says World Bank

October 21, 2019

By Hassan Gbassay Koroma


Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi in blue shirt (centre) surrounded by his colleagues

World Bank Global Director, Education Team, Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi, has stated that access to learning materials in Africa is a big challenge and that about 53% of African kids cannot read properly at age ten.

He was speaking at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C, during the End Poverty Day celebration with the theme ‘Ending Learning Poverty in Africa’.

He said the event was held to highlight challenges in the educational sector in African countries.

Wold Bank’s Jaime Saavedra Chanduvi continued that children going to school in Africa do not have the quality and rightful level of education they deserve.

He said it is expected that at age ten children should be able to read a text or a sentence of a book.

He said about 24% of children in Africa are out of school, while some could not finish primary school.

He said many teenage girls in Africa are still faced with challenges of teenage pregnancy, early marriage and several other ills that prevent them from going to school.

He said education will improve in Africa with the use of technology, adding that everybody must be involved in the drive to improve education in Africa.

According to World Bank, the Human Capital Project which was launched last year to help countries invest more and more effectively in their people, shows that globally, the productivity of the average child born today is expected to be only 56% of what it would be if countries invest enough in adequate health and education.

The report stated that in the Africa region, the equivalent number is only 40%, adding that education is key to improving HCI, since much of it variation across countries is due to differences in schooling and learning.

The report states that in Africa, access and learning account in equal parts for the gap in contrast to other regions where quality is more important, noting that interventions in many sectors are required to improve education outcomes.

The report further states that as embodied in the Africa HCP plan, all children should grow up well-nourished and ready to learn.

It says despite impressive increases in enrolment, more than one in every five children in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are still out of school, and many of these (18 million) are in rural settings.

It observes that girls face tremendous challenges, noting that one out of every three are out of school, with the prevalent of child marriage and adolescent fertility as social norms that tolerate violence against them.

It furthers states that although it is possible to learn later in life with enough effort, children who don’t read by age 10 or at  latest by the end of primary school, usually fail to master reading later in their schooling career.

To highlight those challenges, the World Bank has developed a new indicator Learning Poverty, which is the percentage of children who cannot read and understand a short text by the age of 10.

It says that the indicator is based on a new global database developed in partnership with UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

It says that the goal of all children reading by 2030 is far out of reach and that if progress continues at the rate achieved between 2000 and 2015, in 2030, about 43% of 10-year-old children will still be unable to read and understand a short text.

It continues that that in Sub-Sahara Africa, learning poverty will fall only to about 50% by 2030.

It says even if every country progresses at the most rapid rates achieved in its region, their estimates show that globally, about 28% of children would still be learning poor in 2030.

The report calls for an urgent need for society-wide commitment to investing more and better in people, adding that eliminating learning poverty is as urgent as eliminating extreme monetary poverty, stunting, or hunger.