To improve the quality of education, first you have to be able to measure it, but education quality is notoriously difficult to define and measure, as was pointed out on this blog last week. The UNESCO Institute of Statistics has taken a step forward in developing a new regional data collection to monitor progress on selected indicators to assess quality of education in sub-Saharan Africa.
Quality is often estimated by looking at pupil/teacher ratios, on the basis that the more pupils there are per teacher, the less each pupil gets. But quality of education goes beyond that. The new UNESCO data collection measures other factors that determine quality, articulated in the African Union’s Second Decade of Education, such as class size, textbook availability and access to basic services that can affect learning.
This new evidence shows great variations. While 13 pupils have to share one mathematics textbook in Cameroon, pupils in Benin, Niger, Cape Verde, Rwanda and Mauritius have access to one book each. In Niger, 85% of schools have no potable water and 75% no toilets. In Mauritius and Rwanda, all schools have such facilities. The findings are brought to life with some eye-catching infographics on the UNESCO Institute of Statistics’ website.