Bridging the Gap: HCA's UNGA Side Event on Childhood Literacy and Numeracy in Africa

Bridging the Gap: HCA's UNGA Side Event on Childhood Literacy and Numeracy in Africa
Source: © Emily Wolfe/GHRD


Emily Wolfe 

Human Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence

On Tuesday, 19th September, GHRD attended Human Capital Africa's (HCA) UNGA roundtable event, which centred on the critical issue of childhood literacy and numeracy in Africa. Distinguished attendees included prominent figures such as Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Hon. Madalitso Wirima Kambauwa, Minister of Education, Malawi; Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, Minister of Basic Education, Uganda; and the notable presence of Jeffrey Sachs, Director-General Advocate for the UN Secretary-General and former Founder and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

The central theme of this influential conversation revolved around the alarming literacy and numeracy rates in Africa. Shockingly, statistics reveal that nine out of ten children in Sub-Saharan Africa struggle with basic reading skills. HCA is dedicated to addressing this issue through data collection and the implementation of structured approaches to enhance access to education, including enforcing pedagogical standards at the country level and assessment-informed instructions, such as scorecards and standardised tests.

Jeffrey Sachs, a prominent figure in the realm of sustainable development, lent his powerful voice to the discussion, emphasising the critical need for increased funding in African education. He underscored that investing in African education represents one of the most significant returns on investment possible. Recognising that education is the cornerstone of development and progress, Sachs's passionate appeal resonated loudly among the attendees.

The roundtable also delved into the transformative potential of technology in education. The digitisation of education holds immense promise for Africa, a continent ripe with possibilities for growth. The use of technology can facilitate access to quality educational resources, bridging geographical gaps and providing students with innovative learning tools.

HCA's approach extends beyond mere rhetoric. The organisation is committed to translating these discussions into tangible actions. By collecting comprehensive data and enforcing structured educational frameworks, HCA aims to equip African nations with the tools necessary to make meaningful improvements in childhood literacy and numeracy rates. Moreover, the emphasis on assessment-informed instructions ensures that progress can be effectively monitored and measured.

The roundtable's significance lies not only in its high-profile participants but in the urgency of the issue it addresses. Africa's future hinges on the quality of education its children receive today. HCA's dedication to effecting change in childhood literacy and numeracy is a commendable step toward unlocking the continent's vast human potential. With visionary leaders, strong advocacy, and a commitment to meaningful action, the prospects for a brighter educational future in Africa appear more promising than ever before.