What does a quality education mean for African youth?

On January 24 we celebrate the very first International Education Day

Robert Manyala is a software engineer and is focused on solving the world's problems through technology. Kenya. CREDIT: GPE/Kelley Lynch

This is the 1st blog post in 2019 as part of the collaborative effort between the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

On December 3, 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted with consensus the resolution 73/25 – co-authored by Nigeria and 58 other Member States – proclaiming January 24 as the International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

The adoption marked the unwavering political will to support transformative actions for inclusive, equitable and quality education for all.

Education is the key to unlock Africa’s youth potential 

Education is the foundation for any human society to evolve and meet its aspirations in terms of social and economic development, peace, democracy and more generally inclusive governance that promote women and youth empowerment.

Over the last 10 years, African countries have focused on addressing access to basic education as a key milestone in supporting community development. Through education, they put an emphasis on promoting gender equity and equality, not only in remote or rural areas but also in communities and locations where men primarily dominated education.

The gains in improving access to education on the continent have been impressive, but the main challenge is now to improve the quality of education. This has been articulated in several international frameworks (i.e. 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development Goals, Africa’s Agenda 2063, etc.) from various Pan-African organizations such the African Union Commission, the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGC/A), the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), and so forth.

Quality education in the current African context needs to address two important and complementary objectives:

  1. Preparing the African youth to the current and future “world of work” as engines of innovation by fostering 21st century skills (i.e. critical thinking; creativity; collaboration; communication; information, media and technology literacy; flexibility; leadership; initiative; productivity; and social skills). These tools will help improve their personal lives, careers and impact on today’s job markets.
  2. Empowering Africans youth to become community change makers and leaders by promoting modern practices with regard to community development and inclusion.

ADEA’s contribution to education and training in Africa

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) is the voice of education and training on the African continent and has played a significant role in the education space for the past 30 years as a convener, knowledge creator, and a forum for policy dialogue.

Very often ADEA is described as a partnership between African education ministries, development cooperation agencies, private sector, civil society, youth, diaspora, as well as academic, training and research institutions. Its main implementing entities are the Inter-Country Quality Nodes (ICQNs) and the Task Force on Management and Policy Support.

Recently, in partnership with the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) – its host institution – ADEA presented the feasibility study results of the African Education Fund (AEF) during the African Union’s First Extraordinary Summit of the Committee of Ten (C10) heads of State and government championing education, science and technology (November 2018 in Malawi).

Earlier, in October 2018, the Association had launched ADEA’s new Strategic Plan 2018-2022, based on two strategic pillars: the continental Education Platform and the Advisory and execution support services.

Thanks to the new Strategic Plan, ADEA will contribute to empowering African countries to develop education and training systems that respond to their emergent needs and drive Africa’s sustainable socioeconomic transformation.  In line with that, ADEA has also recently launched a brand new ICQN on a key thematic area for Africa’s education landscape: the Senegal-led Inter-Country Quality Node on Higher Education and Scientific Research (ICQN-HESR). 

ADEA’s activities, following the recommendations that emerged from the 2017 Triennale, alongside the activities planned and carried out in synergy with its ICQNs, task forces and partners, will generate, year by year, a major impact on the lives of millions of Africans, in particular the youth.

ADEA’s call to action

Today, according to UNESCO, 262 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some 4 million children and youth refugees are out of school.

As the international community marks the very first International Day of Education, ADEA seizes this opportunity to call on its Member States, stakeholders and all partners to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all and at all levels.

Education is a human right and is key to sustainable development.