Sarah Laughton of our Macclesfield group, who joined RESULTS for two days work experience, wrote this blog on the issue of teacher shortages in sub-Saharan Africa.

Due to the ongoing work of organisations such as the Global Partnership for Education, and the rising school-age population in Sub-Saharan Africa, more children than ever are enrolling in primary education. However, this progress faces a potential barrier: a lack of teaching staff. A lack of teachers means a lower quality of education or even a lower availability of education.

UNESCO data shows that around a third of sub-Saharan countries such as Nigeria and Eritrea will need to hire more teachers by 2030 in order to help ensure good quality universal education. In fact, statistics suggest that unless many of these countries start recruiting now they could face huge shortages by 2030.

One example of this issue is in Djibouti. Currently only 54% of the country’s primary school-aged children are enrolled in school. As the push for universal education continues this figure is expected to and hopefully will increase quite dramatically. However, in order to accommodate this increase in demand and achieve universal primary education Djibouti will need to recruit around 17% more teachers per year. This is a huge challenge in a country with limited resources to allow it to make large expansions to its workforce.

However, some governments in the region have begun to take big steps towards dealing with the issue and to prevent potential shortages in the future. Since 1999 Ethiopia has been increasing its teaching staff by around 11% per year meaning there is a good chance that it will escape future problems. However, in other countries such as Eritrea recruitment is struggling to combat the high number of teachers leaving  due to sickness or retirement; for every seven teachers recruited, 10 are expected to leave, meaning that the number of teaching staff is actually expected to decrease leaving the country with a serious shortage. In fact this is not an uncommon issue in the region as on top of the 2.1 million new teaching posts expected to be created in the coming years, it is also estimated that a further 2.6 million positions will need to be filled as teaching staff leave.

Nevertheless, although Sub-Saharan Africa still accounts for 46% of the global shortage of school teachers, an issue that urgently needs to be solved in order to achieve universal education, successful steps seen in countries such as Ethiopia show that it can be done and along with the support and guidance of organisations like the GPE hopefully by 2030 governments will be able to assure good quality universal education.