The majority of countries with the lowest education equity in the world are in Africa.
According to a new World Economic Forum (WEF) report, Africa holds seven of the ten countries with the lowest education equity including Zimbabwe, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Mozambique.
Education equity is a measure of achievement, fairness, and opportunity in education.
The study also discovered that there is no bigger policy challenge preoccupying leaders around the world than expanding social participation.
The report adds that expanding social participation will see improved benefits of economic growth and integration.
The WEF report also said the current debate on inequality and social inclusion was unduly narrow and unnecessarily polemicised.
“It is possible, indeed essential, to be pro-labour and pro-business, to advocate a strengthening of both social inclusion and the efficiency of markets,” noted the report.
The Inclusive Growth and Development Report 2015 observed that, despite an accumulation of evidence that reducing inequality can actually strengthen economic growth; the political consensus about inclusive growth was still essentially an aspiration rather than a prescription.
The report expressed worry at the approach in addressing inequality.
“No internationally recognised policy framework and corresponding set of indicators or measurable milestones has emerged to guide countries wishing to construct a more socially inclusive economic strategy,” lamented the report.
According to the WEF study, growth creates the possibility of a positive-sum game for society, even if it does not assure it.
“The extent to which economic growth broadens improvements in economic opportunity and living standards is influenced by an interdisciplinary mix of structural and institutional aspects of economic policy,” added the report.
“There is no inherent trade-off in economic policymaking between the promotion of social inclusion and that of economic growth and competitiveness; it is possible to be pro-equity and pro-growth at the same time.”
The report said economic institution building has been a crucial part of the development path of essentially every country that has industrialised and achieved high living standards.
“Because development is a complex process – many conditions need to be fulfilled in order for widespread poverty to be replaced by ever-rising middle class prosperity – this process of institutional deepening occurs across a wide spectrum of domains.”
The report also observed that macroeconomic, trade and financial stability policies remain critically important as they establish the conditions necessary for improvements in productivity that help drive growth.
Africa's second largest economy and the region's most advanced country South Africa had a modest peformance in the latest report as it comes in the top ten in three sections; fiscal transfers, asset-building and financial intermediation.
The report attributed the improved scoring to an excellent tax code and social protection system.