The Role Of Non-State Actors In Africa's Education Sector

Author:Mr Dawda Jawara III and Jennifer Agnew
Profession:Clyde & Co

The global population is expected to rise from approximately 7 billion people today, to 11 billion in 2100 and almost all newly added people will be Africans. Africa is currently the world's youngest continent with half of its people under the age of 19. As a result of this impending population boom, it will be home to more young people than anywhere else in absolute terms by the end of this century.

The Chinese example of the past 30 years has shown that a young, productive working population can drive national prosperity and lift large swathes of the population out of poverty. Conversely, the Arab Spring and the Mediterranean migrant crises of recent years have demonstrated how an unemployed and disaffected youth can stir crises and instability, the effects of which cannot be constrained within national borders.

Studies1 show that education attainment is the most effective tool in spurring economic growth and broader quality of life. This led to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to include equal access and increased enrolment in primary education as a key development goal for 2015.

The broad success of African governments in increasing levels of primary school enrolment have, however, strained public resources and in many cases led to sub-standard delivery and poor attainment outcomes. This article discusses a few non-state efforts that seek to tackle the problem of access to qualitative education in Malawi, South Africa and Ghana.


In Malawi the average student teacher ratio in a classroom, is ninety students per teacher but this can in some cases, reach three hundred students per teacher. Against this backdrop, non-profit organisations such as Onebillion are spurring improvements in the education sector. Onebillion aims to help one billion children attain better access to education. Its initiatives include providing every primary school in Malawi with a solar projector as a means of access to electricity in the classroom. To date they have succeeded in installing 5,300 solar projectors in Malawi classrooms.

Onebillion's other initiatives include the introduction of various tablet computer applications for students that aim to help teach Malawian schoolchildren Maths, English and the local language Chichewa. According to a study undertaken on Onebillion's mathematics application by the University of Nottingham with students in the UK, just 30 minutes use of the mathematics application on a tablet was equivalent to...

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