Paving ways to provide quality education for Africans

Everyone is clear about the incalculable returns of ensuring quality education in countries’ overall development. Nations which are able to provide quality education to their citizens are able to produce productive human capital that could contribute meaningfully, transform the social and economic landscape of the nations and foster sustainable development.

In the case of Africa, though there have been unceasing attempts to access quality education, there is still a long way to go to achieve the objectives.

According to reports, the continent is facing critical educational challenges with catastrophic results across secondary, tertiary and TVET, significantly restricting future employment opportunities. The poor provision lead to hampering the achievement of at least some of the Sustainable Development Goals in Africa leading to worse health outcomes, greater youth unemployment and deeper levels of poverty.

It also impacts the future prospects of Africa’s private sector by restricting the availability of a skilled workforce. Prevent the achievement of the African Union’s Vision which is going to be realized by 2063, the report added.

To end this and advance the educational sector, numerous organizations working on education are advocating for quality education these days.

Lately, the African youth voices, along with the Human Capital Africa and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa have urged and issued a call to action for African Heads of State and government to commit and champion foundational learning ahead of the African Union Year of Education.

The call urged leaders to recognize the scale of the learning crisis confronting the continent, commit to a continental strategy to address it and invest in the data and evidence to guide effective policy and interventions. Smartly, allocating existing resources to proven tools to accelerate progress and ensure that every child in Africa has access to quality foundational education.

Speaking on the occasion President Sahlework Zewde, said that ensuring quality education is a game changer. The Heads of State and government should prioritize it through the declaration of 2024 as the African Year of Education.

CEO of Human Capital Africa Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, emphasized the fundamental requirement for better use of data, and expanded collection of data and evidence to ensure that the interventions implemented by government are targeted and effective: “If there is a proper evidence-based approach then the incremental cost of doing the right things at foundational levels will be negligible compared to the outcomes that it will achieve throughout the education system. The integrity of the foundation of education is something that we must embrace as a continent. Our leaders must become chief learning officers to demonstrate the leadership required to overcome this challenge. This group today is focused on ensuring that the most influential voices on our continent say that this crisis must be fixed.”

The Executive Secretary of Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), Albert Nsengiyumva stressed: “We have all understood the challenge we face, we must now ensure that our concerns are shared as widely as possible and that Heads of State hear our message in the context of all the challenges facing the continent. They must consider the impact that failing to address the learning crisis will have on all of our other continental priorities. We know what is required – now we have to drive implementation systemically, not on a project basis, and at scale.”

The messages from African leaders and influential voices were supported by African youth, who were strongly represented at the summit and stressed the urgency for action by launching an online campaign to raise awareness of the challenge.

Human Capital Africa Advisor Board member and former Deputy Chair of the African Union Erastus Mwencha, who spoke on behalf of President Joyce Banda, Chair of the Human Capital Africa (HCA) Advisory Board, said: “It is crucial to acknowledge the gravity of the situation that lies before us. Despite our concerted efforts and progress over the years, a staggering 9 out of 10 children in Africa are unable to read and understand a simple text by the age of ten. This is not just a statistic; it represents millions of dreams deferred, countless potential unfulfilled, and a future that is being compromised.”

The event was attended by representatives from the African Foundational Learning Ministerial Coalition, which was formed to enable collaboration, knowledge sharing and collective advocacy for African countries that are leading the fight against the learning crisis. Speaking on behalf of the Coalition, Malawi Education Minister and Chair of the Coalition Madalitso Wirima said: “We stand united in our mission to ensure that every boy and every girl can read and perform mathematics. This is not just an educational goals, it is a catalyst for change across our continent. Our resolve is clear, to lead the response at the national level and develop innovative solutions, and that is why we have all committed to the Ministerial communiqué issued in Zambia in 2023, at the ADEA convened High Level Policy dialogue on foundational learning. As we stand together at this pivotal moment, let us acknowledge the power of education and the key role it plays in unlocking the potential of our continent.”

Education Adviser of UNICEF, Lieke Van de Wiel also said that, children who were out of school failed to learn what they were supposed to; and that means investments in education have not been generating the right return. “African leaders must feel a sense of urgency to solve the problem,” she added.

It was learnt that the two-day summit was co-convened by UNICEF and the Aliko Dangote Foundation. It was also attended by representatives of the private sector, civil society and implementing organizations. They played a significant role in rallying other organizations to address the future skills gap in the workforce by addressing the learning needs of children now. They called for increased investment in technology to enhance foundational learning such as access to digital resources, implementing e-learning platforms, and ensuring that both teachers and students have the necessary skills to use technology effectively.



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