Africa: AU Summit Enables Member States to Develop Common Education Vision

Education is a fundamental human right that is essential for accomplishing collective socioeconomic development goals. When a country fails to provide accessible and inclusive education, it may be considered as denying the people’s rights. It also restricts the possibilities for structural reform.

In many respects, education is essential to a nation’s progress. It gives people the abilities, knowledge, and skills necessary for economic growth and production. Driving innovation, technical advancement, and general economic development requires a workforce with a high level of education.

When people receive high-quality education, they are better able to escape poverty, find higher-paying employment, and support the nation’s economic expansion. Furthermore, it has a strong correlation with better health results. People with higher levels of education are more likely to make knowledgeable decisions about their health, which improves health outcomes and practices for both the person and the community.

By encouraging tolerance, understanding, and respect for differences, education may strengthen social cohesiveness. It makes society more stable and cohesive, encourages social mobility, and lessens social inequality. Additionally, it guarantees the advancement of democracy and good governance as a well-informed populace is more likely to engage in democratic procedures, hold public servants responsible, and support the general growth of democratic institutions.

As a result, education is acknowledged as being crucial to national development in all development frameworks, whether they are created by continental or international organizations. Thus, to support the goals of the various development frameworks, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063, education in Africa has been given top priority for significant investment. However, quantity, quality, and equal access remain major barriers. Here, the question is whether the curriculum and educational system now in place can equip young Africans to handle the complex issues facing the continent.

Nearly one in two youth worldwide will be African Americans by 2030. Unfortunately, the necessary skills for Africans to fully engage in a changing workforce are not aligned with the evolving dynamics of the population. The UN 2022 reaport reveals that 40% of children from the poorest families do not complete primary school, compared to 80 % of children from the richest families who do. Additionally, UNESCO reports that over 700 million youths and adults lack basic literacy skills, with a larger proportion of women than men. According to the most current (UNESCO/AUC 2023) reports, girls from the lowest households have nil upper secondary completion rates in several African nations. Furthermore, Africa accounts for approximately 0.1 % of global innovation, with continental research and development spending averaging only 0.45 percent of GDP. Furthermore, Africa accounts for only 0.5 percent of worldwide patent applications, compared to Asia’s 66.8 %.

These statistics clearly demonstrated that the existing African curriculum and educational system are inadequate in preparing young Africans to deal with the continent’s complicated difficulties.

As a result, Africans should commit to and increase their investment in their education system since it helps them improve productive capacities and promote global competitiveness. Sustainable industrialization and economic diversification continue to be the most potential sources of employment and income growth. As a result, improvement in education is imperative for Africa.

Taking these realities into account, this year’s Africa Union Heads of States and Governments Summit chose education as the most significant subject. The African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, hosted the Summit. The 2024 AU theme is “Educate and Skill Africa for the 21st Century.”

Although each African country has its unique education system, quality education remains a concern. The region needs a digital transformation of educational systems as the global workforce undergoes a digital change. As a result, the summit encourages all African nations to collaborate on infrastructure and resource investments, as well as the development of appropriate curricula that allow Africa to capitalize on its natural and human wealth, as well as the demographic dividend.

It enables them to develop collaboration between industry and educational institutions to match curriculum with job market demands. Improvements in the efficiency of educational spending and investments through strengthened performance accountability frameworks can also yield results. Accordingly, the summit also paved the way for cross-continental educational networks to promote intra-Africa knowledge sharing and mutual recognition of education and training systems and qualifications.