Education in the Ivory CoasThe West African country of the Ivory Coast faces harsh realities concerning its educational system. The challenges children face in the country must be met by better solutions if education in the Ivory Coast is to improve.

Ivory Coast’s education problem is mirrored by one horrifying statistic: nearly one in two children did not attend primary school in 2007. This ratio varied little throughout individual communities, and a large part of the blame went to lack of infrastructure. Inadequate facilities and the small number of teachers resulted in the low enrollment figures. However, the issues in Ivory Coast are not limited to poor facilities and a lack of educators.

Access to education in the Ivory Coast is impacted by numerous socioeconomic and equality factors. In 2002, Ivory Coast’s civil conflict shattered the nation’s economy and the results have rippled to the present. As recently as 2008, nearly half of the Ivory Coast lived under the poverty line. HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases are part of daily life in the Ivory Coast. Gender inequality is rampant. The result is poverty and disease-stricken communities. Access to education has suffered and home-schooling is a low priority.

Despite the challenges Ivory Coast has faced to its educational system, a number of solutions have been introduced to combat them. In addition to Ivory Coast’s own national programs, organizations such as UNICEF have supported programs to strengthen and expand Ivory Coast’s educational infrastructure.

The support UNICEF has given to education in Ivory Coast is widespread and invaluable. The Child Friendly School program serves to improve existing schools and create a more learning-friendly environment. Through this program, 200 Ivory Coast schools benefitted from improved furniture, health kits and extracurricular activities in 2008. Back to school campaigns support awareness and increase demand for education in rural villages. Alternative education programs serve to accelerate students that failed to enroll at the appropriate age. The Girls’ Education Action Plan exists to bring gender equality into Ivory Coast schools.

Perhaps the best agent for change regarding education in the Ivory Coast is the country itself. Not blind to the issues at hand, Ivory Coast’s four-year national development plan sought to make education a priority. In 2016, Ivory Coast made education mandatory for all children ages six to sixteen. Furthermore, the 2016 Education Sector Plan seeks to ensure that all children and adults have the proper avenues to seek education and training.

Due to the solutions in place, Ivory Coast has seen results in its educational system. Over two-thirds of Ivory Coast children now attend primary school. Prioritizing education in Ivory Coast, coupled with organizational and national campaigns, processes to rebuild a shattered infrastructure have begun. More must be done, of course, but the groundwork has been laid for better access, better programs and a better framework to ensure that all children receive that fundamental right to education.

– Eric Paulsen

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