Relevant education can shape Africa’s future

26 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Relevant education can shape Africa’s future

The Sunday Mail

YESTERDAY’s Africa Day commemorations, which essentially celebrate the continent’s rich cultural heritage and progress, were a timely reminder of the role education plays in shaping the future of the continent.

This year’s commemorations aptly ran under the theme “Re-thinking African education systems for the 21st century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality and relevant learning in Africa”.

Africa’s development hinges on a robust education system that empowers its citizens with the skills and knowledge required to drive innovation, promote sustainable development and build resilient communities.

African leaders must have realised by now that they cannot fully achieve their development aspirations under the African Union’s Agenda 2063 without having an appropriately educated and skilled populace.

In essence, Agenda 2063 seeks to transform the continent within the next 39 years through industrialisation, modernisation and innovation.

This entails improvement of the continent’s productive capacity and value addition.

Agenda 2063 places advancements in technology and innovation at the centre of the envisaged progress on the continent.

Broken down to its barest essentials, the ambitious plan is designed to build modern and highly industrialised societies, which enjoy high standards of living.

This dovetails with the country’s own aspirations, as envisioned under Vision 2030, which is premised on creating an upper middle-income economy within the next six years.

Education, therefore, plays a central role, especially if it comes with a pragmatic approach that ensures countries rely on their skilled labour for their industrialisation and modernisation agenda.

This is one of the crucial lessons African countries have to learn, in line with the theme of this year’s commemorations. Fortunately, countries are now making strides in refocusing and repurposing their education systems to make them key instruments in radically transforming their economies.

And Zimbabwe is one such country.

The introduction of the Heritage-Based Education 5.0 model by President Mnangagwa is helping institutions of higher learning to produce graduates who are innovative and possess problem-solving skills.

This represents a marked departure from the rote-based Education 3.0 model, which focused more on teaching, research and community service.

The setting up of innovation hubs at almost all institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe is playing a key role in making education reshape the developmental trajectory of the country.

Elsewhere in this paper, we carry the story of how the University of Zimbabwe is now producing vehicle registration plates that used to be imported.

And this is just one of the many projects they are pursuing.

“To build the Africa that we want, there are certain pillars that are necessary to achieve that vision, and those pillars relate to education that is anchored in science, technology and innovation,” said President Mnangagwa in an interview last week.

“We cannot develop our African continent without drastic emphasis and biases towards science, technology and innovation. Those are the things that build a country or continent. All African states and the current crop of Heads of State should focus on innovation, science and technology, and that way we are convinced that we will achieve the vision of the Africa we want.”

Lessons should be learnt from other countries, like China, for example, that have managed to successfully drive their industrialisation and modernisation agenda by fundamentally repurposing their education.

But there is still hope.

The continent is slowly but surely building a highly technical labour force relevant to drive Agenda 2063.

A technically educated labour force is relevant to regional integration frameworks like the African Continental Free Trade Area, which has the potential to create more jobs, reduce poverty and drive shared prosperity.

But African leaders also need to walk the extra mile to establish peace and stability on the continent and create a conducive environment for development and deployment of relevant human skills. A robust approach to addressing the impact of climate change can also see some of the obstacles to progress being addressed.

So, yesterday’s commemorations should necessarily serve as a reminder of the value of education to shape the future of the continent.

The legacy of the founding fathers of Africa and their vision for a united and prosperous continent can be achieved through embracing the principles of Pan-Africanism, fostering peace and investing in relevant education.

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