Economic policy experts urge action on low quality of education in Africa

A group of economic policy experts have warned that the low quality of education in many African countries is hampering their economic growth and development.

The experts presented their findings at the 25th Senior Policy Seminar (SPS) organized by the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) in Nairobi, Kenya on March 29-30, 2023. The seminar focused on the theme of human capital development in Africa.

According to the experts, Africa has made significant progress in increasing school enrollment rates but still faces a learning crisis, where many students do not acquire basic skills such as reading and numeracy.

Prof. Adrienne Lucas, Chair of the Department of Economics at the University of Delaware, said that in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, about three-quarters of grade 3 students cannot read a simple sentence. She said this learning crisis is acute and undermines the potential of human capital to contribute to economic growth.

“As barriers to schooling have fallen, the primary school net enrollment rate is now over 80 percent (UNESCO 2019). Yet, in many cases, schools are continuing to fail the children they are supposed to be serving by not imparting them with adequate knowledge to be successful,” Prof Lucas said.

He added, “As an example, in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, about three-quarters of grade 3 students cannot read a simple sentence (World Bank 2018). This “learning crisis” of students being in school but not learning is acute. The scale of this problem was recognized and codified in Goal number 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals focuses on “quality education” and not just the number of years of schooling.”

Prof. Germano Mwabu, Professor of Economics at the University of Nairobi, said that foreign direct investments (FDI) stimulate education achievement in a host country by enabling the youth to acquire on-the-job training and providing tax revenues that the government can use to construct schools and fund scholarships and research.

He said that multinational firms provide incentives for skill acquisition because workers know they must be highly skilled to work for foreign-owned enterprises, which pay higher wages than local firms.

He, however, noted that the education stimulus from FDI depends on the host country’s capacity to absorb the investment. He said that critical to the absorption is the previous skill accumulation in a host country, as well as local workers’ ability to adapt to production technologies of multinational firms.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communication and Digital Economy Eliud Owalo, who was the chief guest at the SPS opening ceremony, called for strengthening capacity-building efforts at the human capital development level to facilitate economic and social growth.

Owalo challenged delegates at the SPS, including high-ranking government officials, ministers, governors of central banks, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, a queen, and special advisers to Heads of State, to move out of their comfort zones by embracing emerging trends in the digital space to advance economic policy.

He said that AERC must contribute to leading Africa into the new order as an equal partner by conducting relevant research. He said that if Africa missed out on the first three industrial revolutions, the time to make up and catch up is now. He said that this seminar must go down in history as a turning point for Africa’s human capital development.

The AERC is a capacity building institution that supports economic policy research and training in sub-Saharan Africa. It was established in 1988 and has a network of researchers, universities and policy makers across the continent and beyond.

Do you love solving puzzles?

Join our community and solve the Puzzling fun with our range of crosswords

image of various puzzles image of background wavy graphic

AM Live

AM Live is NTV's morning current affairs show that sets the agenda for the day with insightful panels every weekday.

Business Redefined

Business Redefined is Kenya’s premier thought leadership platform for unpacking matters regarding economic and finance policy as well demystifying complex developments in the region’s capital markets.

Daily Politics

This is Daily Politics. Here we look into the ins and outs of everything Kenyan politics. We pull no punches and have no reason to sugarcoat anything that matters to Kenyans.


A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula

Full Episodes

A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula

Gumzo La Sato

Gumzo La Sato is a live social issues show that aims to create awareness about issues affecting the larger society. The discussions range from Parenting, Marital bliss and struggles, Oppression, violence, and all matters of the Heart.

Health Diary

Health Diary is a weekly show that highlights different types of diseases/conditions and seeks ways to prevent, treat/manage them. The show debunks this through real life stories and also feature specialists in different fields, to offer medical advice on the same.

Letter To My Younger Self

Letter To My Younger Self is a podcast where guests get to write a letter to their younger self, from which Maxine formulates questions to ask them during the hour-long show.

Mazao Talks

Mazao looks at agriculture and agribusiness

Nation Reports

Nation Reports is a weekly podcast offers an opportunity for listeners to interact with various reporters and journey with them as they unravel the biggest most emotive stories.

Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost peeks through the story of Louis Otieno, the times, and everything in between.



Speaking of GEN Z

Speaking of Gen Z brings you entertaining but meaningful conversations about a generation that is trying to navigate through adulthood. Join hosts Michelle, Jackie and Esther as they unravel all things Gen Z.


Sport-On is a 30-minute sports magazine show on NTV and 3 hours on NATION FM. The show seeks to give the sports “fanatics” and “funatics” comprehensive and in-depth coverage of sports both locally and internationally.


Thamani is a business show which is dedicated to emerging issues regarding micro, small and medium size businesses.

The Trend

A two-hour-long live show that airs on Fridays. The show focuses on what is current in the entertainment industry, controversial and popular across all media platforms targeting those aged between 25 and 35 years.

The trend podcast

The trend podcast highlights and captures the best of banter from #TTTT segment that airs every Friday on NTV. It's the TTTT EXTRA

The Wicked Edition

The Wicked Edition with Dr. King’ori seeks to address serious issues through humour and relatable wit. It is a two-part half hour show filmed in front of a live audience


A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula A collection of our premium content. Diam curabitur vehicula


Twende is a travel show that highlights beautiful, unique, diverse locations, people, and cultures. The show offers fresh perspectives on familiar locations and memorable experiences in new ones.


This Saturday evening lifestyle show lets viewers share their stories and life experiences as openly & honestly for the purpose of shifting the culture of silence.

VIP Access

VIP ACCESS is Anyiko Owoko’s YouTube and podcast show on Music and Culture dedicated to promoting Africa’s most promising talent and creatives. This podcast grants you VIP access into timeless interviews while providing a platform for rising as well as established artists across the continent. Since launching in 2018, Anyiko has interviewed over 70 African music stars.


This weekly news show aims to have all sides of debate but not be constrained by it, listen to main voices in the contest but not allow them to hold the viewers hostage, entertain debate but allow push back with all due respect.

When death do us part

In this podcast, three widowers openly speak about the process of grief, how they found themselves exposed to the emotional turmoil of losing their wives, and how society still does not know how to deal with them.

Your World

Your World is a health, wellness and variety show. It provides a platform for audiences and experts to share their experiences on how to improve or manage health issues, across Kenya and the Africa region.