This entry has been written by Augustin Kalubi SJ, Jesuit education delegate in Central Africa.
Free basic education which is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 26th article as a chance of schooling for everyone became a dangerous good in a continent that lacks appropriate structures to participate in the international competitiveness.
In most of the African educative system there are two kinds of schools. Private schools where both infraestructures and salaries of the teachers are exclusive responsability of the parents of the students. Governments control the quality of the education and consent academic diplomas but they do not give any subsidies. Free basic education becomes a fairy tale.
In public schools, teacher salaries and its functionality are partially provided by governments. We say “partially provided” because the salaries paid by governments are neither decent nor fair and it needs parents intervention to accomodate the low teacher salaries. There are many public schools that don’t benefit from government salaries in a lot of African countries. Everything works as in private schools. In both cases, parents pay for their children basic education.
This policy of parents intervention in teachers salaries gives justice to teachers offering them acceptable retributions, and therefore giving them motivation to teach quality education. But it also shows the misfortunate exclusion of the families living in poverty from the education system and it impoverishes even more those who are incapable of schooling their children. In large families, there are, above all, girls who don’t attend to school. If we say that basic education starts in families, there is a gap to question about the quality of the education that illiterate girls and women will give to their children to come. In Africa we say that one chicken that has not been warmed when it was an egg it would never develop the impulse to warm its own eggs. This means that with illiterate girls, countries perpetuate illiterate generations for the whole continent.
The economic means of the families in school management become an accesibility rule for schooling. This shifting of rule for schooling threatens the philosophy behind the 26th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the constitutive bill of UNESCO, the Right of the children Convention and the World Declaration of Education For All.
Free basic education that would restore children their chance of schooling, however, stirs the pain of a wound whose seriousness departs every interest in teaching and learning. The declaration of free education mainly pushes teachers to work without remuneration and impoverishes the short motivation that encourages the chance of a certain quality education. Official statements are set out simply to please their Western sponsors , destroy the educational environment by establishing corruption as a survival mode of teaching staff there.This free education Declaration regrettably affects the quality of education and access to basic education , and it introduces corruption in the education sector in many African countries. The future of many African countries is compromised because of this crime against children’s education.