members believe that education is key to sustainable
and equitable development, political stability and
participative democracy, but also improvement of
health and of general living conditions.
policies and practices to achieve the six objectives
of the Dakar Framework by 2015 in Africa, emphasizing
pre-school initiation, a full cycle of formal primary
education and literacy training for youngsters.
Education is a fundamental right of every single human
being, as stipulated in article 26 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, a text endorsed by all
member countries of the United Nations. The
International Convention of the Rights of the Child,
in its articles 28 and 29, provides that States shall
« make primary education compulsory and available
free to all ».
Yet, illiteracy remains widespread, most of the time
for reasons independent of the will of those affected.
About half the illiterate children in the world are
African. Only 14% fo the African children have access
to preschool initiation as compared to a worldwide average
of 40%. About 31 million children aged between 6 and
12 have no access to a full cycle of primary education
and 43 million youngsters aged less than 24 are illiterate.
Contrary to the trend on other continents, their number
is increasing, thus making the issue an even greater
challenge requiring an urgent and comprehensive response.
These figures do not or only partially include vulnerable
children (street children, child soldiers, young domestic
workers, so-called “witch” children, girls
married by force before the end of their schooling,
slave children, orphans, etc.). Not to mention many
more anonymous African youngsters who, like Yaguine
and Fodé - these two Guineans found dead in the
landing gear of a plane coming from Africa in August
1999 – are tempted by migration and risk their
life with the hope of a decent education and living
In 2009, unquestionable progress has been made towards
achieving education for all, including in sub-Saharan
Africa. According to Pôle de Dakar, the number
of schooled children increased by 29 million since 2000
and access ratio in the last year of primary cycle –
which gives an estimate on the completion of the cycle
– has gone from 48% to 65% between 1900 and 2005.
All specialists, however, concur : special efforts,
radically different from the past are needed if the
Millenium Development Goal promising a quality basic
education to all by 2015 is to be achieved in Africa.
Governments, donors and civil society must commit resources
and collaborate more closely to achieve sustainable
solutions. It is the interest of Africa and of Europe
to urgently work together to fill the education gap