Make education relevant to African development

Girls raise their hands in response to the question
Copyright: Panos

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  • Workshop urges Africa to make education relevant to the continent’s needs
  • Indigenous knowledge should be integrated into the educational curriculums
  • Balanced and inclusive education could help the continent achieve the SDGs

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[LAGOS] The African higher education research agenda has principally focused on academic and scientific objectives not tailored to the continent’s development needs, a meeting has heard.

The meeting held in Nigeria last month (25-26 July) aimed to gather input from 30 senior  decision-makers in Africa on continuing efforts of countries in delivering balanced and inclusive education and how to further improve these efforts through policy and practice.

“Education for human development is the core of every socioeconomic development programme of any nation.”

Ekanem Ikpi Braide, Nigerian Academy of Science

Manssour Bin Mussallam, president of the Education Relief Foundation (ERF), a Switzerland-based nongovernmental organisation, said, “Africa has not been directed sufficiently to the search for continental solutions to health, education, water, climate change, energy and food security — all sustainable development indices.”

Speaking at the regional meeting hosted by the ERF and the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Mussallam said that education needs to transform and improve the conditions of both the learner and the community, and is crucial to achieving sustainable development.

He said recent research shows that little has been done, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, to guarantee the maximum uptake of indigenous knowledge for the common good.

Mussallam added that the ERF is rooting for a balanced and inclusive education premised on encouraging conversations within the same culture, solving problems across different disciplines and aiding critical thinking in local and global contexts.

According to Ekanem Ikpi Braide, vice-president of NAS, whereas education has not been given adequate attention in Africa, it is a prerequisite for achieving the global sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“Education for human development is the core of every socioeconomic development programme of any nation,” she noted.

If education provision in Sub-Saharan Africa is gotten right, Braide explained, the achievement of the SDGs could be faster, and poverty reduction could be achieved by 2030 or earlier than targeted.

The quality of teaching, she explained, needs to be looked at critically as teachers are currently not concerned with values, attitudes and skills; and life and entrepreneurship skills required to meet present day challenges.

According to Braide, the need for research that makes educational curriculums and more inclusive by integrating indigenous knowledge is real.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.