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March 2021 1st edition

Educated people are the wealth of nations

written by Cecilia de Vos Belgraver

Africa news

Investment in Africa’s people remains central to all African Union (AU) undertakings because people are the real wealth of nations. This is according to former AU Commission Chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The AU is pushing for expanded access so all African children complete secondary education. To prevent children from leaving school, the AU has a focused End Child Marriage Campaign, said Dlamini Zuma.

“We also advocate and work with member states on improvements in the conditions of teachers, upgrading their skills, expanding school feeding programmes in all schools, for a focus on the teaching of science, mathematics and engineering and on strengthening of technical vocational education and training,” said Dlamini Zuma.

Overcoming the shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is also important and the AU has called for a skills revolution so that African countries can modernise their economies.

The Capacity Building Foundation’s study found that 90 percent of graduates qualify in the Social Sciences. The rest qualify in STEM. The AU’s aim is to raise the number of STEM graduates to 70 percent.

The AU Harmonisation and Tuning project involves 200 universities in 42 countries. Its aim is harmonised curricula, quality and qualifications in Medicine, Teacher Education, Mechanical Engineering, Agricultural Sciences, Civil Engineering, Geology and Higher Education Management.

“Our efforts in basic education, technical vocational education and training in Science, Engineering and Mathematics education are at the foundation of the skills revolution,” said Dlamini Zuma.

Africa is expanding higher education: Enrolments are up from 2.7 million students in 1991 to over 11 million in 2015 and there are more universities.

Yet, this sector faces problems of funding and relevance in an increasingly knowledge-based global environment, said Dlamini Zuma.

Therefore the AU has launched the Pan African Virtual University using technology to increase access, create centres of excellence, and attract students from across Africa.