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Secondary Education in Africa(SEIA)


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Nearly all countries in Sub Saharan Africa have implemented policies to ensure free universal primary education of acceptable quality. Rising primary enrollment and completion rates, as a result of these policies, have brought increased demand for access to post-primary education.

Some countries are now declaring free universal secondary education. While the social and economic rationale for expanding learning opportunities beyond primary education is clear, the challenges are daunting, and the task of developing sustainable secondary education strategies is complex.

For example, African countries must deal with issues of financing, quality and relevance of teaching and learning, curriculum & assessment, science & technology education, teacher training and management, and equity and access.

And they must create secondary education systems that promote economic growth and competitiveness, and produce graduates with skills demanded by the local labor markets.

As they seek to address these issues, countries are looking to the Bank to share its knowledge and provide technical assistance and financing.

The SEIA Program

The Africa Human Development Department of the World Bank has responded with the Secondary Education in Africa (SEIA) initiative.

Since its inception in 2003, SEIA has delivered eight thematic studies on secondary education in Africa, a review of trends in secondary education in industrialized countries, and three regional conferences on secondary education and training (Kampala 2003, Dakar 2004, and Accra 2007).

The findings and recommendations of these studies and conferences have been incorporated into the SEIA Synthesis Report. This discussion paper is meant to promote dialogue within and between African countries and the broader international donor community on the choices available for sustainable expansion of secondary education and training systems.

Program Objectives

(a) Development and improvement of national strategies for secondary education and training (within the overall post-primary strategy of individual countries)
(b) Dissemination of the results and recommendations of the SEIA Synthesis Report and the eight thematic studies
(c) Building partnerships for post-primary education between African countries and development partners, and helping country task teams to expand and improve quality of post-primary education IDA portfolios

SEIA Financing

The World Bank, international donor agencies, and African countries have provided financing for the SEIA Initiative. In particular, we acknowledge the contributions from the Norwegian and Irish Education Trust Funds.



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SEIA Conferences

Workshops and Regional Conferences held within the framework of the SEIA Initiative are important events, encouraging exchange of experience and strengthening discussions between decision-makers in African countries, the donor community and specialists.


Key Publications

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SEIA Synthesis Report

The SEIA Synthesis Report, At the Crossroads: Choices for Secondary Education in Africa was the centerpiece of the Third SEIA Regional Conference held in Accra, April 1-4, 2007. This report is the culmination of a multi-year SEIA work program. It is based on outputs from SEIA Regional ConferencesSEIA Thematic Studies and literature review on Secondary Education.

It complements the published World Bank study “Expanding Opportunities and Building Competencies for Young People: A New Agenda for Secondary Education ” which explores key issues facing secondary education and presents a policy framework for the development of secondary education based on evidence from around the world.

The objectives of the SEIA Synthesis Report are to:
  • Identify policy options for sustainable development of secondary education
  • Provide an evidence based foundation for discussion and partnership; and
  • Provide an explicit rationale and policy framework for increased Bank lending to secondary education.

SEIA Report: Conference version in
English | French | Portuguese

SEIA Thematic Studies

One of the guiding principles used for the SEIA Study is a participatory approach involving a large range of stakeholders. In this Framework, the eight SEIA Thematic Studies have been carried out in partnership with Universities and recognized educational institutions from the North and South. These studies include collected experiences, accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned.

The eight Thematic SEIA studies are:

  1. Strategies for Sustainable Financing of Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
  2. Transitions in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Equity and Efficiency Issues
  3. Governance, Management and Accountability in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
  4. Recruiting, Retaining and Retraining Secondary School Teachers and Principals in Sub-Saharan Africa
  5. Curricula, Examinations and Assessment in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
  6. The Link Between Health, Social Issues, and Secondary Education: Life skills, Health, and Civic Education
  7. Developing Science, Mathematics, and ICT Education in Sub-Saharan Africa: Patterns and Promising Practices
  8. Gender Equity in Junior and Senior Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Other SEIA Studies

Studies and Publications

  1. At the Crossroads: Choices for Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa
    August 2008
  2. Secondary Education in Africa: Strategies for Renewal
    World Bank presentations at the December 2001 UNESCO/BREDA-World Bank Regional Workshop in Mauritius on the Renewal of African Secondary Education
  3. Trends in Secondary Education in Industrialized Countries: Are they relevant for African countries? , by Briseid, Ole and Francoise Caillods (2004).
  4. Skills Development in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Richard Johanson and Arvil V. Adams (2004).
  5. Vocationalized Secondary Education Revisited , by Jon Lauglo, Albert Akyeampong, Kilemi Mwiria and Sheldon Weeks (2004).
  6. Expanding Opportunities and Building Competencies for Young People: A New Agenda for Secondary Education, by Ernesto Cuadra and Juan Manuel (2005).
  7. Meeting the Challenges of Secondary Education in Latin America and East Asia. Improving Efficiency and Resource Mobilization , by Emanuela di Gropello (2006)
  8. Back to the Blackboard: Looking Beyond Universal Primary Education in Africa , by Peroshni Govender and Steven Gruzd
  9. The Challenge of Learning: Improving the Quality of Basic Education in Sub Saharan Africa , by Adriaan Verspoor (ed) (2006)
  10. Assessing Scientific, Reading and Mathematical Literacy: A framework for PISA 2006
  11. Constructing Knowledge Societies: New Challenges for Tertiary Education
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