Today CII staff attended a presentation called “The State of Learning in Africa” at the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institute. The presentation explored the major findings of the Africa Learning Barometer, a report on the state of education in Africa conducted by Brookings. While the findings were discouraging, 45% of African youth are not learning and the number of out of school children is rising, the presentation was overall positive that improvements are possible with the increased attention currently being placed on global education, especially as it relates to general development goals. The report also highlighted two major issues to address: inequalities in education in rural vs. metropolitan areas and providing an education that is useful and applicable to students, or stated more simply access to and quality of education are the greatest needs for global education.  CII’s education program, eKWIP, addresses both of these issues. Through its focuses on studying global problems and finding local solutions with peers around the world, eKWIP is providing lessons that are practical to students since they can apply them to their daily lives and the world around them. The program also breaks down divides between rural and metropolitan schools by connecting classrooms in a variety of locations.

Another interesting point raised was the impact that quality education has on the economy and how because of that the business sector has a responsibility to support education initiatives. Improved education means a more skilled employee and touches on a variety of development areas. For instance, the transfer of infectious disease and reproductive health improves with a more educated population. A healthier population leads to an overall productivity increase because more people are able to consistently work. Also, with more education people tend to earn more, which can then be reinvested into the economy. Many businesses are recognizing the development potential in supporting education and are putting more funding and effort into public education on a national level. In 14 countries in Latin America, national business associations are contributing to public education at higher levels than the government. Given limited resources of many governments in the developing world, it is critical that the private sector take a lead in filling in gaps in access to and quality of education to enhance overall global development goals.