Investing in Education Quality Can Lead to More Equitable Growth in Côte d’Ivoire

February 2, 2017

ABIDJAN, February 2, 2017 — Possessing the second highest growth rate in Sub-Saharan Africa, Côte d'Ivoire must now seek to strengthen its human capital by improving its education system and the quality of public expenditure allocated to the sector if it is to obtain greater equitable growth going forward. This is one of the key findings of the latest World Bank Economic Update on Côte d'Ivoire titled “The Skills Challenge: Why Côte d'Ivoire Must Reform Its Education System”.

With an estimated growth rate of 7.9% in 2016, Côte d'Ivoire’s strong economic performance continues to stand out in an unfavorable global and regional context. Short- and medium-term prospects remain favorable despite external risks, such as the recent decline in the price of cocoa, and internal tensions such as the social movements that have marked the start of 2017.

In this context, the authors of the report discuss how the country can maintain this economic performance while sharing the benefits of growth in a more equitable manner. Based on the observation that the country needs to strengthen the skills of its workforce, the report provides an overview of the education sector and identifies the challenges it is facing.

"This report urges Côte d'Ivoire to increase the pace of reform in the education and vocational training system if it hopes to catch up to the performance of emerging countries. In particular, the country must improve the efficiency of its expenditures in order to provide better skills and greater opportunities to young Ivorians," underscores Jacques Morisset, World Bank Lead Economist for Côte d’Ivoire and author of the report.

The study found that in 2016, the Ivorian government spent about 5% of gross domestic product (GDP) on the education sector, placing it among the African countries that spend the most on education. However, it also showed that Ivorian students performed below the African average in reading and mathematics. For example, the report findings show that adolescents do not attend school on a regular basis, and that many students do not know how to read or count properly at the end of primary school.

Even when they attend school, many students do not seem prepared for the demands of the labor market. "Ivorian authorities are aware of these gaps and have not been idle. Several reforms are forthcoming to scale up the enrollment rate, particularly in secondary school, and to improve the quality of school curricula in the coming years," says Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Côte d'Ivoire, who cited the right to a free education up to the age of 16 as a flagship measure implemented by the Ivorian government at the start of the 2015-2016 academic year.

The report recommends three reform proposals that authorities could explore in their efforts to improve the performance of the national education system. These three recommendations are based on the idea that effective reforms must take into account the State's main expenditure categories, namely teachers' salaries, subsidies to private schools, and administrative and equipment costs.

Taken together, these three areas of spending represent over 95% of public expenditure in the education sector and largely determine the performance of an education system in Côte d'Ivoire and in virtually every country in the world.



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