African schools are concentrating on their best performing pupils at the expense of youngsters who may prove to be just as talented if given a higher quality of teaching. In Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s book, Poor Economics, they highlight two key steps in the social and economic progression of Africa; the first is to provide a free and compulsory education; the second is to assure that the standards of the education are good enough to benefit every student and not just an elite few.
Tonson Sango, one of the founders of Books2Africa, said: “Education has been limited to a narrow and exclusive system of examinations and grades. Students are pre-occupied with their scores as opposed to the acquisition and application of knowledge. It is when the latter is achieved, that students in Africa can become truly empowered to tackle poverty.”
Children have embraced schools in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana where primary education has been made free to all. UNICEF figures show that between 1999 and 2006 enrolment rates in sub-Saharan Africa have increased from 54% to 70%.
Children attending school is important, but they also need to learn something worthwhile whilst they are there.
Books2Africa also aims to improve the quality of education in Africa through the donation of educational books, the construction of libraries and running scholarship schemes for female students.
An intense focus on basic skills is necessary to prevent underperforming students falling behind and leaving education early to work in the informalsector, where they will earn approximately $2 a day and continue to be trapped in a cycle of poverty.
“Poverty leads to an intolerable waste of talent,” said Amartya Sen, Indian economist and the winner of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize. “Poverty is not just a lack of money, it is not having the capability to realise one’s full potential as a human being.”
Books2Africa aims to empower youths to actualise their ambitions by providing free teaching to those who cannot afford an education.