Overcoming disparities in education for Africa

Article by Zipporah Musau was first published in the Africa Renewal Magazine,Courtesy of UN department of Public information.
The drivers of inequality in education are many and complex, yet the response to these challenges revolves around simple and sound policies for inclusive growth, the eradication of poverty and exclusion, increased investment in education and human development, and good governance to ensure a fairer distribution of assets.
With an estimated 364 million Africans between the ages of 15 and 35, the continent has the world’s youngest population,which offers an immense opportunity for investing in the next generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs.
Countries can start to build and upgrade education facilities and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
The AU, keeping in mind that the continent’s population will double in the next 25 years, is seeking through its Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016–2025 to expand access not just to quality education, but also to education that is relevant to the needs of the continent.
The AU Commission deputy chairperson,Thomas Kwesi Quartey, says governments must address the need for good education and appropriate skills training to stem rising unemployment.
Institutions of higher learning in Africa, he says, need to review and diversify their systems of education and expand the level of skills to make themselves relevant to the demands of the labour market.

“Our institutions are churning out thousands of graduates each year, but these graduates cannot find jobs because the education systems are traditionally focused on preparing graduates for white-collar jobs, with little regard to the demands of the private sector, for innovation or entrepreneurship,” said Mr. Quartey during the opening of the European Union–Africa Business Forum in Brussels, Belgium, in June 2017.

He noted that if African youths are not adequately prepared for the job market, growth in technical fields that support industrialization, manufacturing and development in the value chains will remain stunted.
Inequality’s inclusion among the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities) serves as an important reminder to leaders in Africa to take the issue seriously.
For a start, access to early childhood development programmes, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds,can help reduce inequality by ensuring that all children begin formal schooling with strong foundations.
The UNDP, through its new strategic plan (for 2018 through 2021), will work to deliver development solutions for diverse contexts and a range of development priorities, including poverty eradication, jobs and livelihoods, governance and institutional capacity and disaster preparedness and management.

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