Science and technology teaching must undergo reform at all levels of African educational systems, according to a ten-year plan adopted by the continent's education ministers.
The ministers approved the African Union's 2006-2015 plan of action for education at a meeting last week (2-4 August) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The plan states that science and technology "is the most important tool available for addressing challenges to development and poverty eradication, and participating in the global economy".
"Indeed, to achieve [the UN Millennium Development Goals], there is no alternative to knowledge, skills and human resources in science and technology," it adds.
The plan also says women's participation in science and technology courses will be increased at all levels of higher education.
To assess the quality of teaching and learning, the African Union will set up an 'African education observatory' to gather data on key indicators of progress being made.
Hassan Abdel Aal Moawad of Egypt's National Research Center welcomes the plan, saying it will help produce the scientists and scientifically literate citizens needed to build knowledge-based societies in Africa.
Moawad says African science education must focus on modern fields in which the continent lacks expertise, such as biotechnology, information technology, nanotechnology and renewable energy, as well as issues such as bioethics and intellectual property rights.