|NAIROBI, May 2, 2018 -- African governments should enact policies that promote gender parity in school enrollment to help catalyze economic growth and social renewal, a senior UN official said, late Thursday during the launch of 2018 Global Education Monitoring Report Gender Review.
Manos Antoninis, a senior policy analyst with UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) challenged African countries to prioritize gender equality in access to basic and post secondary education as a means to achieve sustainable development.
"Countries across the African continent must level the playing field using new and policy and legislative incentives to ensure that both boys and girls have access to learning opportunities," said Antoninis.
African education ministers, policymakers and campaigners attended the launch of 2018 Global Education Monitoring Report prepared by UNESCO and partners during the ongoing high level Pan African Conference on Education taking place in Nairobi.
The report noted that many African countries are yet to achieve gender parity in basic and tertiary education thanks to rampant poverty, cultural barriers and policy gaps.
Antoninis said a radical policy shift coupled with robust financing and public education is an imperative to boost school enrollment among girls in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"There is need to address cultural norms that prevent young girls in Africa from acquiring basic education. Governments must allocate resources to programs that address literacy and acquisition of life skills for the female gender," Antoninis added.
African countries should address gender disparities in education as a matter of urgency in order to achieve sustainable development goals linked to poverty, health, nutrition and food security.
Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, the Director at UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, said that Africa's quest to achieve inclusive growth, peace and stability hinges on improving literacy rates for women and girls.
"We need to create opportunities for young women in the African continent to excel in education. This objective is at the heart of realizing sustainable future for the continent," Ndong-Jatta said.
She urged African countries to domesticate global best practices in order to hasten realization of gender parity in the education sector.