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The Education for All (EFA) initiative was introduced in the World Declaration in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 and later revised and reaffirmed in the Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2000a). Donor commitment and the international community’s drive following the declaration brought about large enrollment; however, the quality began to decline as studies revealed. According to a report by UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics, the median result of students’ scores in the developing countries is in the bottom 5% of that of the OECD’s (UNESCO, 2010).
The campaign for universal education amplified the demand for schooling and boosted enrollment. The demand for schooling doubled within less than a decade rapidly outpacing the intake capacity of countries. As a result, primary school enrollment reached 93% in Tanzania, 88% in Mali, 84% in Senegal, 105% in Mozambique and 141% in Malawi (World Bank, 2012).1
Experts working with international development organizations and donors offered advice to the developing countries to help to accommodate the increasing demand of education. Countries with limited infrastructure and teacher availability were advised to reduce class sizes by halving the instructional time through instituting multiple shifts (Abadzi, 2011). Most developing countries cut down instruction time by 40% as a consequence. Governments were also advised to institute automatic promotion to prevent massive dropouts and repetition in primary schools (Abadzi, 2011). Furthermore, the significance of mother tongue on language learning is overlooked.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) tracks both enrollment and quality in its Education for All Development Index through the Institute for Statistics (UIS). Evidence from UIS indicates that students of the low-income countries are not acquiring the basic skills in literacy and numeracy. For Example, 9 out of 10 grade 2 students studying in French could not read more than 15 words per minute in any language in Mali. In Kenya, 14 percent of grade three students were non-readers in English. In two regions in Uganda, 70 percent of grade three students could not read a single word in English and over 80 percent could not read in Lango; in Niger 71 percent of first grade students did not meet the minimum requirements in reading or writing in French (Van Der Gaag & Adams, 2010).
The vast majority of tested students could not read with sufficient comprehension and most were simply unable to read at all. For Example, in Mali (French, Songhoi, Fulfunde, Bomu, and Bamanankan) between 81 percent & 92 percent of students tested were unable to read a single word (Gove, 2011). Likewise, the percentage of nonreaders at end of grade 2 or beginning of grade 3 was 91 percent in Zambia & Nigeria, 30 percent in Liberia and 44 percent in Gambia. The percentage of students that reads with at least 80 percent comprehension was less than 4 percent in Liberia and Uganda. In Ethiopia, between 0.5 percent and 13 percent of students could read with comprehension, depending on the language and region of the country (Gove & Wetterberg, 2011).
Central research reveals that it is learning rather than years of schooling that contributes to a country’s economic growth: a 10 percent increase in the share of students reaching basic literacy translates into an annual growth rate that is 0.3 percentage points higher than it would otherwise be for that country (Hanushek & Woessman, 2009). In sum, the existing evidences corroborate the strong correlation between cognitive development and economic productivity; and cognitive development is an outcome of quality education.
The importance of assessment is to improve learning as emphasized by educational institutions worldwide, unfortunately, evidence shows they are hardly in use in developing countries. According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR), only a few countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have conducted some form of national learning assessments from 1995 – 1998 (UNESCO, 2000). While on the other hand, 77 percent of Western European and North American countries conducted assessments on their education systems (Van Der Gaag & Adams, 2010).
The EFA report emphasizes measurements based on the belief that international assessment helps measure disparities in skills of students among different countries and regions (UNESCO, 2009). Hence, Cogent International Solutions firmly believes in measuring outcomes as a means of improving the quality of education and emphasizes monitoring and evaluation as one of its focus areas in for development solutions.
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The root causes for the Horn of Africa’s underdevelopment are many, including structural ones, such as lack of proper policies and strategies, good governance, and weak leadership. These structural problems were aggravated by the following underlying causes, including but not limited to illiteracy, unemployment, and malnutrition.
For any nation, the well-being of its citizens is essential. An active and healthy workforce is vital for growth and development. Food insecurity and lack of basic health service put society at risk. An unhealthy workforce can’t be productive, instead, it weakens the economy, the government, and other service providers.
The Horn of Africa is affected by both chronic and acute health and nutrition-related diseases. Health and nutrition services have remained poor. Vulnerable groups and rural area residents suffer the most from these health-related challenges. Pregnant and lactating mothers, children under five years of age suffer severe malnutrition.
Moreover, chronic diseases such as malaria and TB, and epidemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS have taken the lives of millions. Also, food insecurity and other similar factors contributed to the acute malnutrition, and caused sudden weight loss or edema; and chronic cases resulted in stunting and other lifetime complications.
Severe cases of poverty, food insecurity, inequality, and illiteracy are symptoms of chronic poverty. Continuous illnesses and poor nutritional habits are causes of poor productivity that affect generations, which in turn reduces economic capability and leads to poverty and underdevelopment.
Thus, when we talk about factors for development and growth, health and nutrition are one of the most important factors to be considered. As a result, nations and regional and international partners incorporated health and nutrition in SD goals.
To this regard, many promising achievements have been recorded in the Horn of Africa, including the fight to combat HIV/AIDS, TB, and eradicating Polio, and efforts to minimize malaria, and reduce maternal death and malnutrition. By launching health extensions, health service coverage has expanded to reach remote areas of the country.
Besides recognizing these achievements, a lot has to be done by nations, partners, and all stakeholders to uplift the health and nutrition status of the region.
As a partner, we are devoted to conducting empirical research on health and nutritional cases, work on policies and strategies, advocacy, project design, implementations, impact, and monitoring-evaluation assessments.
Our firm collaborates with government agencies, private and public health service providers, non-governmental organizations, universities, and local communities to contribute our share on building healthy societies throughout the Horn of Africa.
Thus, when we talk about factors for development and growth, health and nutrition are one of the most important factors to be considered. As a result, nations and regional and international partners incorporated health and Nutrition in SD goals.
To this regard, many promising achievements have been recorded in the Horn of Africa, including the fight to combat HIV/AIDS and TB, eradicating Polio, efforts to minimize malaria, and efforts to reduce maternal death and malnutrition. In terms of health services coverage and launching an innovative approach to address health problems applied for such as health extension.
Besides recognizing these achievements, a lot to be done by nations, partners and all stakeholders to uplift the health and nutrition status in the region.
As one of the prominent health and nutrition partner, our firm devoted in conducting empirical research on health and nutrition, work on policy and strategies level advocacy; and associated project designing and implementations; impact and monitoring- evaluation assessments.
Our firm collaborates with government line ministries, private and public health and nutrition service providers, Non-Governmental Organizations, Universities, local government bodies, communities, and societies at large, to contribute our share on building healthy societies in the Horn of Africa.