Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

How to alleviate poverty in Africa? Invest in higher education, says World Bank-supported report

Investing in higher education is paramount to Africa’s development, concludes a study on higher education and economic development in Africa published last month and commissioned by the World Bank.

The authors of this report, David Bloom, David Canning and Kevin Chan from Harvard University, challenge the widespread belief in international communities that primary and secondary schooling are more important than tertiary education for poverty alleviation. Because of this belief, African governments have been encouraged by the international community to neglect spending on higher education, argue the authors. For example between 1995 and 1999 the World Bank’s worldwide spending on higher education declined from 17 to 7 per cent.

The report highlights the important role of higher education on economic development as a means for enhancing technological catch-up and thus improving a country’s ability to maximize its economic output.

The authors strongly believe that: “Tertiary education may improve technological catch-up and, in doing so, help to maximize Africa’s potential to achieve its greatest possible economic growth given current constraints. Investing in tertiary education in Africa may accelerate technological diffusion, which would decrease knowledge gaps and help reduce poverty in the region”.

Higher Education and Economic Development in Africa