Expanding Access to Secondary Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Planning and Finance Issues.


This paper makes the case for managed expansion of secondary schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa. The great majority of secondary age African children remain excluded from access to good quality secondary schooling. Increasing numbers are graduating from primary schools where enrolments are rapidly growing as a result of successful Education for All programmes. The knowledge and skill that secondary schools can provide is central to closing the gap between Sub Saharan Africa and the rest of the world in the capabilities in the labour force that can sustain growth. This paper outlines the current status and structure of secondary provision, and the demographic issues that will influence expanded access. It then elaborates some of the key issues facing governments and development partners, and reviews the resources that would be needed to reach different levels of participation. It offers a set of policy options and strategies that can be used to shape managed growth within sustainable financial frameworks. The analysis indicates that budget shares between educational levels and overall spending on secondary education need to be revisited if higher participation is to be achieved. New balances will have to be struck between rates of expansion towards enrolment targets at primary, lower and upper secondary levels. Structural changes are needed that can facilitate higher secondary enrolment rates at affordable costs and diminish gender inequities. Better management of the flow of pupils could increase completion rates and lower costs per successful completer. Improved teacher deployment will be critical to successful expansion. Trained teachers will be critical to secondary expansion. Where demand is greatest, and initial training lengthy and expensive, alternative methods will have to be considered which lower costs of training and increase supply. So also will be changes in school management that can provide some incentives to manage human and physical resources efficiently. Secondary expansion without curriculum reform risks irrelevance and wastage. New populations of school children require curricula that address their needs, respond to changing social and economic circumstances, and recognise resource constraints. Alongside this physical capacity needs planned expansion in ways that optimise increased access. Expanded secondary access will benefit greatly from successful mechanisms to generate support from the communities that schools serve. There are many possible methods of cost-sharing and cost-recovery that can and should be facilitated. These need to be linked to the capacity of households to support fees and contributions so that they do not become exclusionary. Partnerships with non-government providers can make some contribution to expanded access.


CREATE Pathways to Access Series, Discussion Paper Number 8, 42 pp.

Expanding Access to Secondary Schooling in Sub-Saharan Africa: Key Planning and Finance Issues.

Published 1 January 2007