Conseguir libros de texto de calidad para todos los niños en el África subsahariana es posible

Todos los niños en África subsahariana puede tener acceso a libros de texto asequibles y de buena calidad, si se toman las medidas políticas oportunas para reducir el coste de los libros de texto y garantizar una financiación sostenible según el nuevo informe del Banco Mundial publicado hoy en un workshop organizado por el Banco Africano de Desarrollo.

The study, titled Getting Textbooks to Every Child in Sub-Saharan Africa: Strategies for Addressing the High Cost and Low Availability Problem takes an in-depth look at textbook scarcity in the region and finds that the primary bottleneck is not lack of funding but the high cost of textbooks. The study also identifies the factors that impact costs of textbook production and based on insights from India, the Philippines, and Vietnam, recommends policy options to reduce these production costs.

“Countries in sub-Saharan Africa have made commendable progress in access to education, but the progress has not been matched with improvement in the quality of education,” says Amit Dar, Director of the Education Global Practice at the World Bank. “Access to good quality and affordable books can have a long lasting impact on a child’s learning capabilities.”

Most countries in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from a chronic shortage of textbooks, even in core subjects. A 2010 survey of 22 countries showed that in some places up to 13 children share one textbook and in others these ratios can be as high as 1 book to 15 children.

Speaking at the event, Peter Materu, World Bank Practice Manager for Education in Central and West Africa said, “From policy makers to distributers, there are several actors that play a vital role in the long chain of textbook production to make textbooks available to children in their classrooms. In this workshop we have brought together policy makers, academicians, development partners, and representatives from the publishing sector for effective deliberation and dialogue that would help identify solutions to the problem of high cost and low availability of textbooks in the region.”

The study compares textbook policies from countries like India, the Philippines and Vietnam that are diverse in size, have varying political and administrative systems but have succeeded in providing textbooks for all children by adopting policies that have resulted in keeping textbook costs manageable.

The report recommends that sub-Saharan African countries revisit their textbook policies to explore options that can lead to lowering costs in the immediate, medium, and long term.  The countries and development partners must join together to build capacity, forge effective private-public partnerships and ensure reliable and sustainable funding.

Finally, the onus of making sure that children use the textbooks lies with school managements that must ensure that textbooks are well managed and effectively used in the classrooms.

With long term policy options and systemic reforms, getting textbooks to all children in sub-Saharan Africa is possible. We cannot afford to neglect this problem anymore.

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