The IMF states that Sub-Saharan Africa’s population growth requires high-quality education

May 3, 2024 | International | 0 comments

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) emphasized in a recent blog post that despite fiscal constraints faced by governments, Sub-Saharan African nations must prioritize investment in education with support from the international community.

The IMF underscored that the demographic transition presents a significant opportunity for the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa, but reaping its benefits hinges on adequate investment in education.

Projected to double to 2 billion by 2050, the region’s population growth will be predominantly driven by an expanding working-age population aged 15 to 64. This demographic shift is expected to outpace other age groups and propel almost all population growth, contrasting with declining working-age populations in different regions by 2050.

While Sub-Saharan Africa has made strides in expanding school access, educational outcomes still need to catch up to other emerging markets and developing economies. Nearly three in ten school-age children in the region are not enrolled in school, with a primary school completion rate of approximately 65 percent compared to the global average of 87 percent. Moreover, the literacy rate for those aged 15 to 24 stands at only 75 percent, notably lower than the nearly 90 percent rate in other similar economies. Pandemic-related school closures further exacerbated learning losses, reversing years of progress in some instances.

Insufficient government spending on education in Sub-Saharan Africa, falling below international benchmarks in many countries, is a key factor contributing to these educational shortfalls. The median education budget amounted to about 3.5 percent of GDP in 2020, below the international recommendation of at least 4 percent of GDP.

IMF analysis indicates that achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of universal primary and secondary school enrollment by 2030 may necessitate doubling education expenditures as a share of GDP, drawing from both public and private funding sources.

The IMF’s insights highlight the critical importance of increased investment in education to unlock the region’s demographic potential and foster sustainable economic growth.

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