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Shaping the Future of Education in Africa

by Prof. Suresh Kumar Ms. Poonam Yadav - 21 December, 2020, 12:00 1146 Views 0 Comment

Introduction

Demographically, Africa’s median age at present is 20 and that is the strongest pillar of human resource and hence needs better education and employment opportunities in their respective countries. Rightfully, the question arises ‘Is Africa rising’? and the answer is a qualified “YES.” It is entitled that rising Africa and India’s role in strengthening the education sector enshrines value addition in its relationship with the continent. India respects value addition in education and committed its partnership to develop Africa’s capacity building as per the need of individual countries. The transfer of technology needs educated and professional African entrepreneurs and India’s role in strengthening education comes here in shaping their future of education.

Post-1990 African Societies realized that the future depends largely on the quality of its citizens’ education. One of the major linking chains is the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) through the advancement of computer technology.  African youth will act as the right working force as being educated and will nourish the family and society at large. The common consensus among Africans today is that the National Government must take the responsibility subject to standards in staffing, curricula and building school and infrastructure. The National Government must take the responsibility of financial supervision and grant-aiding of local organs of educational administration.

Shaping the Education Need

Here the question is raised that there is a need to change the education system that should fit in the existing market environment to absorb the educated African youth on the land itself and avoid any more brain drain in Europe or America. It needs a major overhauling in the education sector. There is nothing magical about what proportion of its national spending a country sets aside for education-except that such allocation can be a good measure of an affected country’s ‘commitment to development through education’. Africa seeks to renew the education system by adding the implant and authenticating social values, tackling the collapse of values and anomie so prevalent in the national society, instilling desirable values like cooperation, honesty, equity, justice, consensus, and collaborating and attacking extant regionalism antithetical to national integration. Briefly, the knowledge that comes from education is necessary for good governance and constitutional guarantees like free and compulsory education and equal opportunities for employment barring the regional divisions in the society.

Education strengthens the means of income today and paves the way for secured education, higher income and better employment for the future generation. Education influences social welfare through its indirect effects on health, fertility, and life expectancy and helps to increase the profitability of other forms of social and physical investment. Broadly, development is the integral element of education throughout the world including Africa with the following objectives such as:

Firstly, the young human resource of African society needs education and human and financial resources permit, with the ultimate goal of developing a comprehensive scientific system of education of all levels and for all age groups.

Secondly, the African governments should pursue free and compulsory education taking care of the equitable distribution of educational opportunities in urban as well as rural areas to minimize the existing inequalities based on sex, economic status, and geography.

Thirdly, Africa needs to accomplish modern education policy for the betterment and optimum use of resources and avoid the students dropping out or repeating grades. A good number of Universities in India have adopted a four-year bachelor program with the understanding to minimize the drop out of students on the one hand and provide the certificate (diploma after two years, graduate degree after passing three years and graduate honors degree after four years) as per their qualifications.

Fourthly, the modern education policy should be directly connected to the job market that will equip the students with the knowledge and skills needed to find employment. The University curriculum in Africa should adopt common foundation course in the first year in their respective disciplines (Art, Commerce, Science and Social Sciences students), discipline Course-I in the second year, discipline course-II in the third year and application course in the fourth year. The scope of the students after having a diploma can be good teachers in schools with relevant prequalification, can work in NGOs, in the retail business, run a crèche or playschools. Similarly, after having a Bachelor degree, students can work in NGOs, retail sectors, BPO industry, technical jobs in the media industry and fashion houses and after completing four years, students are more specialized in their respective disciplines; and

Fifthly, Africa needs to strengthen the institutional capacity to formulate and carry out education policy and to plan, analyze, manage, and evaluate education and training programme and projects at all levels.

Education for Building Entrepreneurs

African governments have the principal responsibility for adequate financing of basic education and the democratic governments are willing to strengthen this sector as per their needs. The governments need to facilitate the partnership at all levels with civil society, agencies, the private sector, NGOs, religious groups, communities, parents and teacher’s associations, teachers trade unions and families. The African education system needs to play an important part in strengthening economic development by adopting the following parameters such as:

  • To accomplish the socio-economic needs of the children, it must review and redesign education curriculum and teaching methods.
  • The reading material should be developed, produced and distributed at an affordable price.
  • Integrate education into the family, community and the workplace.
  • Introduce democratic values and practices into the conduct of teaching and learning.
  • Develop field work/project work/excursion/co-curricular activities and linkage the education with the industries, NGOs, social sector and others.
  • The print & television media network should encourage organizing the public discourse on current educational issues in schools, colleges and universities.
  • Develop the internet network to connect the education system of home countries with the international education pattern spreading awareness worldwide.

India’s Public-Private Sector & African Education

Going back to history, post-independent India was seriously concerned about education in Africa right from the days of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on 8 September 1952 and a copy was sent to Ministry of Education, regarding Scholarships for African Students when he mentioned, “The whole object of our giving scholarships to African students to come to India must take some positive measures to meet the situation.” As a result, hundreds of students from Africa came to India and received a degree in the various disciplines right from sciences, law, medical sciences, agriculture, veterinary and social sciences till the 1990s and served in their home countries in different capacities such as the former President of Malawi Mr. Bingu Wa Mutharika received his first degree from the University of Delhi. Many of the students, who attended Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Program (ITEC) courses, have risen to top positions in their respective fields, and some have gone on to become ministers. Today, Pan Africa e-network covers more than 48 African countries and has produced skilled human resource development to get employment in the country and abroad accordingly. It helps the business community introducing their agro & other products, diversifying export and supply the processed goods as per the demand accordingly.

Indian Investors such as Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) has awarded scholarships to African students for a Master’s degree in engineering at the O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU). Amity University offers online ‘IT degrees and diplomas to Africa continent and covers tele-education, telemedicine and diplomatic communications, which is coordinated by the ministries of ICT wherever it has been adopted. Amity University will provide virtual educational services through e-learning technology and video-conferencing facilities set up at Makerere University. Similarly, NIIT has training and educational centres in different African countries. NIIT, the leading Global Talent Development Corporation, ventured into Africa over a decade ago by setting up its first IT education centre and has been involved in the creation of skilled ICT manpower in the continent and has trained more than 150,000 students to date. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), India’s apex industry body and NIIT, leading Global Talent Development Corporation have entered into an agreement to help create ICT infrastructure and foster International Software Talent in the African continent. As part of this capacity building and skill development endeavor, NIIT and CII will share high-quality education resources from India and involve other appropriate players from the Indian industry to help Africa develop human capital for the global IT industry. NIIT’s Corporate Learning Solutions offers integrated learning solutions (including strategic consulting, learning design, content development, delivery, technology, assessment and learning management) to Fortune 500 companies, Universities, Technology companies, Training corporations and Publishing houses.

To sum up, shaping the education need will enable universal education in Africa. The market-based education system strengthens the external and internal efficiency and enhances output quality. The external links of the policy relate to schools, universities, or training institutions provide the necessary skills for the smooth running of the economy and absorbing the school-leavers or graduates into the labor market, find jobs and the earnings as per their qualifications using their skills in employment. The new education pattern balances general education, diversified schools, technical institutes and vocational schools, on-the-job training, and non-formal educational programme. The higher education under the education pattern effectively coordinated or integrated into the overall national educational and research programme and acts as an effective interface in building the African youth as entrepreneurs and developing Africa’s continent political, economic and social development.

Prof. Suresh Kumar
Prof. Suresh Kumar
Author is Former Head, Department of African Studies, University of Delhi
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Ms. Poonam Yadav
Research Scholar, Department of African Studies, University of Delhi.
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