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Education Sector of Africa: Problems and Solutions

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Challenges in African Education Sector

An illustration

An illustration

Problems with Africa Education

What are the problems or challenges facing African education?

Africa! What is wrong with our education sector? Do you think it is of a good standard? Our standard of education is in a coma.

Africa based on documentation as of when this article is first published is the poorest continent on the planet earth. After it comes Asia. This poverty coupled with weak management and other factors contribute to problems facing the continent's education standard.

Education is what everybody who exists in this present time needs to acquire to meet up with the demand of the society. Many developed countries pay good interest on education because they understand that it can go a long way in solving national problems.

Education is the process of educating or being educated. It is the series of training given to students practically and theoretically. The places of training include the nursery and primary schools, secondary schools and the higher institutions. The broad category of education is the formal and the informal education. Formal education is the method whereby the students are taught by their teachers or lecturers in their learning classes from their course outlines. It involves learning how to read and write. Informal education is the type that does not involve learning how to read or write. Example of Informal education is teaching the unlearned in rural areas on how to cast their votes on the Election Day. But in this context, the writing is based on formal education.

In Africa, there are many challenges that the education department encounters. The quality of educational services offered by this continent is in shamble. The education sector in the continent needs serious attentions and helps from capable hands. The problems with the education of this region should not be treated with kid gloves. Does any university from this continent make the top 100 in the world? According to the 2011-12 ranking from Times Higher Education World University Rankings powered by Thomson Reuter, University of Cape Town was ranked 103 in the world (Times Higher Education Ranking). This was the best result from African Region. The university is located in South Africa. It attained the total score of 53.2%. This evidence shows that education standard in African region need maximum resolution.

In the year 2012, University of Witwatersrand situated in Johannesburg of South Africa was ranked #363 in the world by QS World University Rankings. The same body ranked the university number 313 and 318 in 2013 and 2014 respectively on the world scale. The university dropped in 2015 as it was ranked number 331. The result shows that Africa needs upgrade in its education sector because this university that was ranked 2nd in Africa in the year 2014 is found at the bottom of the table in the world standard grading.

Solution simply means a way of solving problems. This piece suggests possible solutions that should be inculcated to bring education sector of Africa to life. When these are accepted and carried out, the education department of Africa will be revived.

Examining the World's Education Ranking

The truth is that facts and figures have shown that African education is in a serious mess. In this section, to be listed and discussed are the top universities/colleges in the world and then compare them with the ranking of that of African education. These are current figures based on the time this work is published.

How Universities Are Ranked – The Methodology

Two primary level indicators – Economics and Social Affairs, were used to rank the universities in categories. Then 7 criteria – Innovation; Research; Publications; Facilities; Teaching; Employability; and Social Responsibility, were used to measure each university strengthens within the two primary indicators-QS University ranking.

The Top Ten World University Rankings 2016-2017

The top ten universities in the world in 2016-2017 according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The top ten universities in the world in 2016-2017 according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

The World University Rankings 2015-2016

This is the ranking of the top ten universities in the world by The Times Higher Education in 2015. The result shows that Imperial College London and Yale University are both tagged number 9 because they have the same score.

This is the ranking of the top ten universities in the world by The Times Higher Education in 2015. The result shows that Imperial College London and Yale University are both tagged number 9 because they have the same score.

Top Ten Universities/Colleges in the World in 2014/2015

The top ten Universities in the world based on the 2014/2015 ranking by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. The top universities rankings employ 13 carefully calibrated performance indicators to provide the most comprehensive and ba


California Institute of Technology (Caltech)


United States

Harvard University


United States

University of Oxford


United Kingdom

Stanford University


United States

University of Cambridge


United Kingdom

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)


United States

Princeton University


United States

University of California, Berkeley


United States

Imperial College London


United Kingdom

Yale University


United States

The Top Universities in Africa (2014-2015)

The table above shows the top four universities in Africa continent based on the 2014-2015 grading by Times Higher Education. It shows that University of Cape Town ranks number one in Africa though very low in the world ranking.

NamePosition Location

University of Cape Town


South Africa

University of Witwatersrand


South Africa

Stellenbosch University


South Africa

University of Marrakech Cadi Ayyad






Comparing African Education with that of the Western World

In the University ranking by the Times Higher Education, it shows that African education sector is seriously having lots of problems. The education sector of Africa is nowhere to be compared to that of Europe, North and South America as well as that of Asia. In the 2014-2015 ranking, for instance, the best university in Africa, University of Cape Town, is ranked 124 in the world. This is an evidence that African education is having a serious problem. The university of Witwatersrand in south Africa that occupies the 2nd in Africa is among the least in the world standard. It falls into the category of 251 to 275 when generally compared.

The problems with Africa education. African education faces many challenges and there are many reasons or causes of those challenges.

The problems with Africa education. African education faces many challenges and there are many reasons or causes of those challenges.

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This sector which is one of the basics needed to meet up with the new generation’s updates is not well rooted in Africa. The challenges that the education system of the Africa Continent faces is lecturers’ weaknesses, government failures, weak practical background, hindrances from institutions, learning environment, crises, non-patriotism, and sentimentalism.

  • Lecturers’ Weaknesses: The most number of lectures we have in Africa are not carrying out their assignments well. They do not know how to offer quality services to the students of many institutions in Africa. They fail to update their lecture notes, make use of the textbooks which their ‘’forefathers’’ used during the time of their study and do not update as the technology changes and advances. Some of them only dictate notes to the students without taking a time to explain what the note is all about. This is a big blow on the face of Africa education system. How many lecturers in Africa have laptops or computers which give up-to-date information? Do those lecturers in Engineering and other departments know the latest changes in the areas of their specialization?
  • Government failures: This is another critical issue that hinders the progress of education sector in Africa. Many governments in this continent have selfishness running in their veins. They are more concerned on how to embezzle the public fund. The question one may ask is this: I think that their children are also affected since they are part of the community? The politicians send their children to foreign continents where their education system is better. The strike is the order of the day in many tertiary institutions in Africa because the governments do not want to add quality to education sector through funding. This is not new in Nigeria as the government of the country overlooks the importance of this sector. University teachers, under the umbrella of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, had on July 1, 2013, embarked on an indefinite strike to protest the no implementation of a part of an agreement it had with the federal government in 2009 ( The government in some cases do not pay the teachers well. The amount of salary paid to a teacher is dependent on the quality of service he is likely to offer. He looks for another source to make ends meet; thereby offering low-quality service (Does the Nigeria Education System Prepare Students for the Work Environment?).
  • Weak practical background: In many schools in Africa, students are taught with little or no practical knowledge. This problem goes from the primary to the tertiary institutional level. It is hard to enter any educational institutions and see well-installed machines for studies. This is one of the reasons for high maternal death in Africa. Most medical doctors in Africa lack practical knowledge on how to handle pregnant women during child birth. The report shows that the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) for developing regions is 15 times higher than that of developed regions. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 56 percent of global maternal deaths (UNFPA Global Site). A medical doctor in African continent lacks good skills on how to handle child’s delivery. The highest rates of child mortality are still in sub-Saharan Africa—where 1 in 9 children dies before age of five (child info website). According to CIA World Factbook, Niger has high Infant Mortality Rate of 87.98% in 2013 (Wikipedia). This is graded based on the number of infants that dies per 1,000 who are under one year. The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is the number of deaths of infants under one-year-old per 1,000 live births. Many doctors in Africa do not undergo serious practical training on the kind of treatment to give the infants. This is one of the causes of the high infant death in Africa.
  • Hindrances from institutions: This has to do with the attitudes of many African universities to the students. Some universities in this continent do not permit the students to learn more from other sources or environments. They are not taken to some places, for instance, European continent to learn new things and add to the one they already know. Some departments keep their students in a particular area without taking them out to compete with others. When they compete, they bring out what they have and learn from the other party or parties. Visiting most developed parts of the world for further learning will help African students grow in knowledge and self-discovery.
  • Learning environment: This is the area where students undergo their daily studies. The classrooms and lecture halls of the students are not well organized. The nature of the environment that students study in matters a lot. The problem with the study environments of the students is that it is jam-packed with students. A lecture hall that supposes to accommodate 50 students has about 150 students in it. This makes understanding by the students void. The lecture hall generates heat, students feels uncomfortable and assimilation becomes a problem. In many tertiary institutions in Nigeria, undergraduate students still learn under the sun. This condition makes students perform low in their individual departments. African students are more intelligent than those of the developed countries of the world. The problem is that we are affected by the environmental conditions.
  • Crises: Africa has experienced many dangers for many years. These environmental disorders seriously affect the education standard negatively. These crises involve both political crisis and wars faced by many nations of this region. These crises range from inter-religious and non-religious. These disorders affect the education sector as students are prevented from carrying on with their studies. During these crises, many types of equipment and facilities used in the education department of Africa are destroyed. In June 2013, people including secondary school students and teachers were killed when Boko Haram gunmen attacked a boarding school in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state. Boko Haram has so far burnt down more than a dozen primary schools in northern Nigeria. In addition, in late April, more than 16 people were killed in attacks on two Sunday services at Bayero University. The administrative block of Gombe State University was destroyed during an earlier attack (Vanguard News). Boko Haram is a terrorist group that attacks and causes a crisis in Nigeria. The challenges and problems that this group has caused are severe.
  • Non-patriotism: This implies not being patriotic. It is the situation where a citizen does not support the activities going on in his or her country. This is also the challenge that the education sector in Africa is facing. The qualified teachers and lecturers in this country find joy in traveling to abroad. They do not value this sector. Instead of helping to bring up education department of Africa continent, they are always busy flying abroad. Also, the wealthy and rich people do not offer to help hands to the education sector in Africa. They supposed to contribute the small quota of theirs in support of education sector. What they do is enriching foreign nations by investing in foreign banks.
  • Sentimentalism: Vice Chancellors, deans of different faculties, heads of department, headmasters, and headmistresses do not place the right persons in different departments of learning. This makes many departments to produce half-baked graduates. Many who teach as teachers and lecturers are there because they are related to someone at the top. This makes some lectures to handle some courses they know little or nothing on. This affects the performances of the students in a very big way. In one of the tertiary institution In one technical school, an instructor that studied Biochemistry taught students in metallurgy. How do you see this? What links Biochemistry with Metallurgy? It is not a good thing and this is one of the problems facing African education sector.

Education sector of the African continent will be standardized if the following are considered:

  • Adequate government spending: All the leaders in this continent should change the face of education sector through proper funding. The fund will be used in the installation of many machines that the students need to cement their studies. With the installation of these machines, practical will be carried out more, rather than theories. This will make the students learn more and solve societal problems on their own. When the learning environment is well funded, the students will be in the good atmosphere for their studies. Adequate governmental funding will enhance the building of more lecture halls and classrooms for students. When this is done, these classrooms will accommodate the students.
  • Morality: Those who are at the top of the universities and places of learning as the leaders should avoid sentiments. They should know that the future of the students depends on them. In the other words, they should not place any person that is not skilled academically to head any department or as a lecturer. When this is done, the education sector in Africa will be of good standard.
  • Tight security: Security is very important to propagate the advancement of the education sector. Ensuring tight security is both the function of the government and that of the tertiary institutions. This will make the students have confidence in their studies. Through security, the academic facilities will be protected. The government needs to set up strong security agencies in many institutions in Africa. When this is done, the crises in this continent will be reduced and education sector promoted.
  • Patriotism: Learned Africans should value their countries. They have to know that the good of education sector is for everybody. When they understand this, they will then put in the best in them and bring up the leaders of tomorrow. The rich and the wealthy should develop an interest in funding tertiary institutions in Africa. Instead in investing in foreign banks, they should invest in the citizens by funding education sector. This will go a long way in stabilizing the learning in the African region.

Problems with Education System of Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic republic of Congo is a country located in central African Continent. As of 2011, 70% of the population is poor (Sourced from International Monetary Fund). In 2013 the country was the poorest nation in the world with Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of $374.25 per capita. Due to the high poverty level of this country, the education sector of the country is seriously suffering. Again, the government of the country, on the other hand, is not offering an adequate helping hand to the university and other schooling levels in the country.

The main problem that resulted in declining in the university education sector is the civil war that the country faced. The first civil war started in 1996 and the second civil war started in 1998. Even till today, there is still internal violence going on in there. The nature of many universities of the country is nothing to write home about as the universities are still suffering from the scars sustained due to the civil wars and Marien Ngouabi University campus is among those that were 'seriously wounded'. In some universities which are conducting academic activities, the quality of services rendered is very poor. The classrooms, studying boards, and other learning equipment are not in order.

The universities are in shamble until things are put in place and the university system properly funded and good learning instruments installed. Notwithstanding the porous nature of the universities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, some non-governmental organizations are offering help to bring up the learning standard of the educational sector. One of the organizations that are seriously working hard is the World Bank. They are playing a good part to see that things are put in a good place. Africa as a whole needs a university system that is well funded and filled with good working machines for practical backup.


Education cannot be done without in any way. For Africa to meet up with other developed countries, this sector needs to be put in place. The problems and solutions to resolve these problems have been discussed. The government and the citizens should put hands in promoting education department of Africa.


  • Times Higher Education (2013), 2011/2012 World University Rankings powered by Thomson Reuter, retrieved 26th August 2013.

  • Uzochukwu Mike (2013), Does the Nigerian Education System Prepare Students for the Work Environment, Naija Writers Coach Publication, Ilorin, Nigeria.

  • Sun News online, ASUU strike: We’ll shut down Nigeria – Activists, Sun News Publication, Wuse, Abuja, Nigeria

  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (2012), Sub-Saharan Africa's Maternal Death Rate, UNFPA Publication

  • Childinfo (2013), Statistics by Area/Child Survival and Health, Child Info Publication

  • Wikipedia (2013), Infant Mortality rate, Wikipedia Online Publication

  • Laju Arenyeka (2013), Boko Haram attacks Spell Doom for Education in the North, Vanguard News online Publication, Nigeria.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P


Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P (author) from Anambra State, Nigeria on March 30, 2018:

@ Timothy, that's is the truth.

Timothy on March 30, 2018:

African education needs a lot of reforms

Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P (author) from Anambra State, Nigeria on November 03, 2016:

Good day christine chemoringo, am sorry to inform you that QS World University ranking has no publication on the score of the university globally. What the publication says is that the university is not one of the top globally.

christine chemoringo on November 03, 2016:

what was the ranking of KENYATTA UNIVERSITY?

Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P (author) from Anambra State, Nigeria on March 06, 2016:

moi university was not ranked by QS World University ranking.

Monari KEVIN on March 06, 2016:

What was the ranking of moi university

Okwuagbala Uzochukwu Mike P (author) from Anambra State, Nigeria on February 17, 2016:

Am sorry for reporting late Mr. Joshua.

According to QS World University ranking, Nairobi University was rank number 701 in 2014 and 2015.

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