Education in Africa: 4 Key Themes

As we continue to work with schools in Africa and are now gearing up for our visit to Kampala this summer, we’ve rounded up the main themes in African education as we’ve observed through our school partnerships and general research. From school enrollment trends to the implications of Africa’s technological shift, here are four key themes of education in Africa to help you keep global education insights in perspective.

1. Education Exclusion

Though the continent has seen significant growth in school enrollment across all grades, there is significant inequality in opportunity when you drill down by gender and region. According to Unesco, the disadvantages marked by gender in African education starts early through the adolescent years. 23% of girls do not attend primary school, as compared to 19% of boys, with poverty being the key factor driving this gender gap and limiting female education. (BBC News) And when it comes to general education exclusion, sub-Saharan Africa reports the highest rates. According to Unesco, over one-fifth children between the ages of 6 and 11, and one third of youth between 12 and 14, are not in school. And the numbers get worse as you go up higher in age; almost 60% of youth between 15 and 17 are not in school. In higher education, access to university education remains severely limited.

2. Mobile Adoption

Africa is a world leader in mobile adoption. According to Quartz, this is driven by lower smartphone prices and scalable innovative use cases of leveraging mobile networks to transform services across a variety of sectors (e.g., health, agriculture, education, energy and water management). From 2014 to 2016, smartphone connections across Africa nearly doubled, reaching 226 million. The skyrocketing of smartphone use provides a big opportunity to offer cross-sectoral economic opportunities, so it is no surprise that US News has pinned Africa as a potential leader in technology, sustainability and agriculture.

3. STEM Focus Drives Growth (and Hope)

Experts in African economy and education have been drawn to one key problem that must be resolved in order for the continent to develop independent of international aid. Africa is currently “a consumer rather than a producer of the technologies it needs.” (US News)  

Africa is attracting top companies to drive its “era of tech consumerism,” but this must be supported by strong universities creating top talent to run this tech revolution. African technology changemakers like Ndubuisi Ekekwe said it best: “We need to encourage technological advancement and education in Africa to ensure the continent’s future.”

With leading corporations like Cisco investing millions of dollars in African countries, employment opportunities for technical roles is on the rise, and with it comes the rise of an exchange of ideas and trade between Africa and the world. Waves of entrepreneurship are washing over the continent, with the hope of establishing the foundation for a knowledge revolution. Technology is empowering Africa to solve their problems in unique ways: “No longer are we importing a tool made for an American banker for a Lagos trader. When a mother can pay school fees via SMS, you can tell how far we have come.” (HBR)

4. The Ongoing Search for Effective, Quality Education

student studying
Source: BeSomeone Worldwide

Growth in technology and education enrollment over the years leave Africa reaching for even more. Although no African country has achieved universal primary education yet, the general picture of education is one of constant challenges by ongoing progress. Between 1990 and 2012, primary school enrollment more than doubled; between 2000 to 2008, secondary-school enrollment by 48%. (US News)

One large challenge that African universities face is a stark separation between universities and society, as schools do not invest enough in research that drive innovative solutions. HBR shares a significant example: “An engineering school can exist for decades in a community without drinking water, yet offer no effort to fix it.”

The ongoing mission to provide effective, quality education for the youth of Africa, is a large task that is directly connected to the needs of individual countries and to the continent as a whole. With this, we see an educational system moving slowly but surely towards an emphasis on the STEM disciplines, to find solutions to Africa’s toughest challenges and build a foundation for the continent to stand stronger than ever before.

Meet us in Uganda.

Education may not created equal across the world, but it does not mean we stop working to give our students the world. A challenge that remains consistent across the world’s education systems, is making sure young minds see their full potential. We must make sure that our students all of the possibilities available to them in the world, rather than just the ones that are right in front of them or those that they have grown familiar with through guidance from parents and counselors.

At 100mentors, it is our mission to empower the world’s youth to consciously make their once-in-a-lifetime decisions, by connecting them to mentors from all life paths.  With the 100mentors technology, you can help students open up their circles of influence by tapping into a network of mentors from 300+ universities and 500+ companies across the world. Now you can inspire your science class with real-world STEM mentors (such as a NASA scientist, a Facebook software engineer, and more), help your students get into their dream schools (by connecting them to admissions officers, current students, faculty, and alumni from their target programs), and much more.

Educators from leading African schools like ACS of Tunis and WIS Namibia are already using 100mentors to empower young minds to connect with mentors from across the world to expand their learning (and life) horizons. Are you ready to empower your students to see the world of endless possibilities? We’d love to show you how. To check out our technology in person, book a demo or meet us in Kampala this summer (August 16 – 25).


As Digital Marketing Manager of 100mentors, Lucy is helping craft and spread the #100mentors message across the globe. Outside of 100mentors, Lucy actively seeks to spread good vibes, and collaborate with the great tech and marketing minds of the world.

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