12 October 2022

IN PURSUIT OF EDUCATION FOR ALL IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA

Over the past two decades, remarkable progress has been made internationally in terms of expanding access to education. Worldwide, more than 90 per cent of primary school-age children have been enrolled in school. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, net enrolment in primary has grown to 79 per cent as of 2018, compared with 60 per cent in the year 2000 (UNICEF, 2019; World Bank, 2020). Despite this progress, gains have not been equally distributed among all groups, with some of the most vulnerable still being left behind. Persons with disabilities are one such group who continue to be excluded from education more than any other demographic group (WHO and World Bank, 2011). Previous research shows that disability is more strongly associated with being out-of-school than with sex, place of residence or even socio-economic status (UNESCO UIS, 2017; Mizunoya et al., 2018). Low and middle-income countries with near-universal primary education also report high ratios of children with disabilities who are out-of-school compared to children without disabilities. This suggests that educational policies that improve overall attendance have not necessarily addressed the challenges faced by children with disabilities (Mizunoya et al., 2018). The following report leverages a set of newly available qualitative and quantitative data to help fill the information gap around children with disabilities and their access to education and learning in the West and Central Africa Region (WCAR), thus establishing best practices for future work in this area. It is the first-ever regional report in the WCAR that applies a common disability measurement based on the UNICEF/Washington Group Child Functioning Module (UNICEF/WG CFM or CFM). This was jointly developed by the UN Washington Group of Statistics and UNICEF and released in 2016, representing the most holistic approach to identifying children with disabilities in household surveys. This report also features significant qualitative data on national policy and programming for disability-inclusive education in the WCAR.
17 October 2021

Time to Teach

While the world was already in a learning crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to worsen this situation. Teacher absenteeism is one of the most troubling obstacles on the path to universal access to learning opportunities. There is mounting evidence that teacher absenteeism is a particular challenge in low- and middle-income countries around the globe, with rates varying from 3 to 27 per cent (Guerrero et al. 2013). This significantly impedes children’s chances to learn in Guinea-Bissau. In 2018–2019, more than 42 per cent of children had missed class either due to school closures or teacher absence (INE, 2020). With systematic teacher absenteeism estimates otherwise unavailable in Guinea-Bissau, this study seeks to fill an important knowledge gap. The Time to Teach study seeks to support the Ministry of National Education and Higher Education (MENES) in its efforts to strengthen teacher’s role in the school to increase their time on task. Its primary objective is to identify factors affecting the various dimensions of primary school teacher attendance and to use this evidence to inform the design and implementation of teacher policies. Specifically, the study looks at four distinct dimensions of teacher attendance: (1) being in school; (2) being punctual (i.e., not arriving late/leaving early); (3) being in the classroom (while in school); and (4) spending sufficient time on task (while in the classroom). Time to Teach in Guinea-Bissau is a mixed-methods project, employing both qualitative and quantitative research tools. In total, 20 Bissau-Guinean primary schools were purposely selected, covering nine regions of the country. At each school, in-depth interviews took place with the head teacher, three teachers, as well as a community leader, while a focus group discussion was conducted with pupils. Additionally, 180 teachers completed penand-paper surveys and field data collectors undertook structured school observations. A total of 339 individuals took part in the study. Data were collected in 2019, prior to the current COVID-19 crisis. The findings of this report, however, have implications on how to go beyond recovery and continue accelerating progress to reduce learning poverty.