BrandArena: Education, Skills Development Are Africa's Biggest Challenge In 2015 – WEF Global Outlook

Sunday 18 January 2015

Education, Skills Development Are Africa's Biggest Challenge In 2015 – WEF Global Outlook

The glaring shortfall in education and relevant skills has been identified as Africa’s biggest challenge, even as Africa gets set to become home to 50 percent of the world’s illiterate population. This was revealed by the World Economic Forum in its Global Outlook 2015.

While UNESCO predicts that Africa will soon be home to 50% of the world’s illiterate population, Maria Ramos, Chief Executive of Barclays Africa Group, points to the focus of governments and businesses on creating real improvements through training programmes and scholarships.

“We must make sure that governments remain focused on funding and investing in education and skills improvement, and that they encourage partnerships with donors, business and local communities,” she says.

According to the Outlook, the danger of neglecting inequality is that “young people who have been excluded from the mainstream end up feeling disenfranchised and become easy fodder for conflict”. This in turn reduces sustainability of economic growth, weakens security, undermines the democracy, and cripples hope for a peaceful society.

Ramos points to Ghana’s Open Learning Exchange which looks at innovative teaching and learning models, as well as South African experiments with digitizing the curricula and making it available on tablets.

“Apart from the fact that you take away a lot of logistics costs associated with it, mobile technology makes education accessible to young learners in remote parts of the country. It also addresses concerns about the quality of educators because you can upskill teachers quickly and provide them with ongoing support through a range of online platforms.”

Ramos highlights the significant improvements in “governance, fiscal management, macroeconomic management and greater accountability” made in countries like Rwanda. She says accountability remains the biggest obstacle to developing appropriate governance. “When you limit democracy and you have a lack of accountability to citizens, you undermine the basic principles that facilitate economic development and ensure broad political stability.”

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