Private providers of Africa can help meet demand for higher education

The private sector – already providing about 30% of higher education places in Africa – can do more to meet the continent’s educational challenges, and African governments should be maximising its contribution, rather than ignoring or acting against it.

This was the main message of a report entitled The Business of Education in Africa presented at the World Economic Forum on Africa held in Durban, South Africa, from 3-5 May.

According to the report, about 30% of all higher education places are currently provided by the private sector, and the segment saw nearly 15% growth from 2009-2013 in Sub-Saharan Africa, larger than all other core education segments.

The report argues that because the cost of training one science, technology, engineering or mathematics graduate is equivalent to the cost of training five in the humanities, even “more investment” is required in “already strained systems”. Humanities graduates constitute over 70% of graduates in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the report, as a result of proliferation of technology in Africa, distance higher education has also emerged as a major and growing segment and has a “size of opportunity” of US$0.5-US$0.7 billion over the next five years.