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girls’ education in Angola
Young women in Angola are becoming more empowered than ever due to the nation’s efforts to increase child education. This rise in female independence and enfranchisement is also due to significant efforts to change the nation’s culture regarding gender roles.

Improvements in Girls’ Education in Angola

Primary education is free in nearly every African country, including Angola. This has caused a drastic increase in the number of children enrolled in school, with Angola having one of the highest improvement rates.

Particularly, the number of young girls enrolled in schools has soared to a number that more than doubles the total of 10 years ago. Between the years 2000 and 2011, there was an increase in girls’ education in Angola from 35 percent to 78 percent.

Additionally, the overall literacy rate for girls in Angola from the ages of 15 to 24 rose from 63 percent to 71 percent from 2001 to 2014. The primary school completion rate for girls in Angola has increased from 40 percent in 2011 to 54 percent in 2014.

Improving Gender Issues in Education

One of the ways in which girls’ education in Angola has been able to see such dramatic improvements is through the efforts of the nation to address gender issues in the classroom. This is also done by reaching out to those with authority and influence over families, who can thus help end restrictive ideas about women’s rights.

Since 2002, a total of 20,000 teachers in Angola have taken part in the “Back to School” campaign, a movement supported by UNICEF. This movement aims to train teachers in how to make their classrooms more sensitive to gender-based disparities. Teachers enroll in a five-year training program that educates them on the causes and solutions for inequalities in female versus male education rates.

One of the issues this movement faces is that oftentimes, when girls attend school, they will soon after drop out due to pressures from members of their communities. The traditional gender role for women in Angola is to be domestic wives and mothers and these pressures often prevent families from allowing their daughters to be educated.

It is common for parents to feel that educating their daughters is a waste of time and resources. There is a societal perspective that if a daughter’s fate is to marry, become a mother and run a household, why send her away to school when she could be learning domestic skills?

Changing the Role of Women

In order to change this perspective, Angolan teachers aim to mobilize those members of the community that parents trust, namely religious leaders and members of the traditional and various ethnic communities. By gaining the support of those that parents view as authority figures, the culture around girls’ education in Angola begins to shift from one of wastefulness to one of independence and progress.

The “Back to School” campaign, along with various independent advocacy efforts, work toward teaching young girls that there is no shame in breaking away from the gender roles that they have been taught to accept. Angolan teachers are shown how to make the classroom a place where young girls not only feel invited but encouraged to participate and learn.

Through the efforts of organizations and communities around the nation, young Angolan girls are no longer left with only one option for their lives and futures. Rather, they can become empowered to cultivate new, intellectual skills that will allow them to forge their own path in life based on their own personal choices.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

Why is Angola Poor?A nation that has been in political turmoil since its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola has had major concerns formulating a stable, unified country free of conflict. Despite it being Africa’s second-largest oil exporter and producer behind Nigeria, poverty has plagued the nation that has suffered internally due to political corruption, instability and other factors. So, why is Angola poor?

According to CountryWatch, income inequality remains high and poverty has been declining only slowly. Angola has attempted to mitigate poverty by placing strenuous efforts in the oil reserve industry in order to boost economic growth. Unfortunately, the income inequality gap is still wide, and infrastructure is in a volatile state due to the country’s insufficient skills that are needed to improve human development. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization that provides support for both developing and developed countries during periods of financial crisis, has warned Angola that they are vulnerable to stay trapped in such a cycle unless they allocate their resources appropriately.

According to a report by AllAfrica, Angola has successfully managed to reduce, by over half, the number of people underfed, thus achieving the first target of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. Although it missed the original target by about two years, the current situation in the country is “satisfactory,” according to an official who was speaking on World Food Day, on October 16th, 2017.

An annual report, the Global Hunger Index, could encourage a more optimistic outlook on the country’s future, and could help citizens in answering questions like, “why is Angola Poor?” In the report, it states that hunger has fallen significantly in countries where civil wars have ended in the 1990s and 2000s, such as in Angola in 2002. Additionally, global hunger itself has fallen by 27 percent since 2000.

One of the more obvious explanations that could aim to clarify the poverty rate in Angola may be the lack of education that Angolans receive. According to the C.I.A. World Factbook, over 40 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line, with only 70 percent of them being literate.

People in Need (PiN), a Czech nonprofit focused on development projects, has stepped up in the campaign toward alleviating poverty by improving education for half a million children. With school expectancy hovering at around 10 years of age, and only 60 percent of females who are literate, such initiatives represent hope and prosperity for a country that ranks 146th on the Human Development Index.

PiN has contributed by building schools, engaging in specialized training for teachers and providing necessary teaching materials for students to receive a quality education while reducing illiteracy among adults. Its work has seen tremendous results, with over 450,000 Angolan children and 1,200 adults learning to read, write and do simple math.

Nevertheless, the advancements in the oil production sector should receive some credit, as it has drastically stimulated Angola’s economic growth and improved the standard of living for many. However, other social issues continue to persist in a country that only nine years ago held its first parliamentary election.

Accountability, transparency, focusing on human rights and deterring domestic violence are all setbacks that present peril to a nation striving to become a developed country. To answer the question, “why is Angola poor,” Angola must first make the necessary changes through strong governance programs in order to see positive results. Improved education can lead to reduced income inequality, but without stringent measures to allow for human capital to prosper efficiently, the people will continue to suffer from this vicious poverty cycle.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in AngolaMore than 40 percent of people live below the poverty line in Angola, one of the largest but least-developed countries in Africa. Here are a few of the main causes of poverty in Angola.

5 Causes of Poverty in Angola

  1. Angola was embroiled in a civil war that lasted 27 years from 1975 to 2002.During that time, more than one million people were killed. Though many of the displaced population has returned home, the country has not had the time to combat poverty. The war destroyed important infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals, railways and bridges. Angola is still rebuilding. Aid and oil sales to China have helped improve the economy, but the country has a long way to go.
  2. A high fertility rate. Contraceptive use and family planning education is low in Angola. Consequently, it has the ninth- highest fertility rate in the world. On average, a woman gives birth to more than five kids in her lifetime. A high birth rate is problematic because it strains resources. The more children a family has, the harder it is for families to give all children the nutrition their bodies need. This is evidenced by the high child mortality rate. One in four children will not reach his or her fifth birthday. In addition, mothers with many children to care for are often restricted to home life. A lower birth rate might increase the number of female workers and output per capita.
  3. A struggling health sector. Angola’s decades-long civil war ended 17 years ago, but its healthcare sector has not fully recovered. The fighting destroyed medical facilities and caused many doctors to flee the country. There is only one doctor per 10,000 people. This physician shortage is especially detrimental in Angola, where nearly 300,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS. Thousands more contract malaria, bacterial diarrhea or other infectious diseases. Many cases are due to unsafe water and unsanitary toilets. About half of the population depends on unimproved water and restroom access. A lack of trained medical professionals, equipment and facilities is a cause of poverty in Angola because sick Angolans have difficulty finding treatment and getting back to work. Some die from treatable or preventable diseases like polio. A death in a family could leave it with fewer sources of income or create orphaned children. Angola has taken measures to reduce rates of disease and infection, such as child vaccinations in the capital. But Angola still has one of the lowest health expenditures in the world at 3.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Due to Angola’s poor healthcare, its life expectancy has increased, but it is still quite low at just 61 years old. Such a drastically low life expectancy cuts years, even decades, from Angolans’ earning potential.
  4. Low education rates. Because of the high fertility rate, 42 percent of Angola’s 25 million inhabitants are under 15 years old. Many of these children do not complete their education. In rural areas, where the majority of Angolans live, schools can be few and far between. Children may have to walk long distances to school, which is a disincentive to attending. Education comes with additional fees for books and supplies, causing families with limited incomes to pull their children out of school. With children out of school, families can save money or have their children make money on a family farm or through another employer. If a poor family opts to provide education for only one child, it is usually for a boy. On average, males complete 13 years of school and females only complete eight. Ruined classrooms and untrained teachers further restrict the availability of quality education. Angola’s education expenditure is 3.5 percent of its GDP. Children and adults cannot unravel the cycle of poverty without education because they cannot get good jobs to help improve their standard of living. In this way, a lack of education is both a result and a cause of poverty in Angola.
  5. Unequal distribution of wealth. Finally, an unbalanced economy, coupled with corrupt elites, is one of the causes of poverty in Angola. Despite 55 percent of Angolans living on less than $1 a day, the capital, Luanda, is the most expensive city in the world. It and other urban areas benefit from the oil sector, which is the second-largest in Africa. Oil and diamond extraction brings a lot of revenue to Angola, but much of the wealth stays with large companies and elite individuals, like politicians. Transparency International ranked Angola as 164 out of 176 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index. Angolan authorities and oligarchs have a reputation of taking from the poor to make themselves richer. According to an article in The Economist, “officials seize state assets through rigged privatizations or rip off the public treasury in bail-outs of private companies. At almost every turn, someone connected to the state is seeking a pay-off.” In addition, some complain that the Angolan government spends money in the wrong places. Angola has a $44 billion federal budget, yet local officials say they do not have funds to provide running water. Instead, the government spent more than $1 billion on four stadiums for a football tournament.

Understanding Poverty in Angola

The devastation of war, the high fertility rate, limited access to healthcare, lack of quality education for all and income inequality partially due to government corruption are the primary causes of poverty in Angola. Fortunately, there is evidence of improvements. The government is beginning to expand its economy which will create jobs. It is also making strides to become transparent, which can increase accountability. Plus, Angola is investing in water, electricity and transportation to improve the lives of its people. Nonprofit organizations also help impoverished Angolans by providing healthcare and schools. With time and effort, Angola’s poverty rate should decrease.

Kristen Reesor

Photo: Flickr