In a bid to give education a voice in Africa and address the multifaceted challenges hindering access to quality education and its pivotal role in driving sustainable development across the African continent, Edugist Roundtable convened an insightful discussion that brought together educators, policymakers, school owners, education consultants, and industry experts.
Themed “The Role of Education in Promoting Sustainable Development in Africa,” roundtable shed light on the pressing issues facing education on the continent and proposed innovative solutions to bridge existing gaps.
Ikechukwu Onyekwelu, managing editor, Edugist, moderated the frank and thought provoking conversation via Zoom asking pertinent questions of the speakers on the subject of sustainable educational development in Africa with participants from a number of African countries.
Uneven Access to Quality Education
“Historically, access to quality education has been uneven across the African continent. Challenges ranging from infrastructural limitations and socio-cultural norms to economic constraints have significantly hindered the progress of education in many regions,” Onyekwelu said. To address these issues, participants emphasised the need for holistic solutions that leverage public-private partnerships to enhance both infrastructure and the quality of education. This collaborative approach, it was argued, could ensure that students receive education that prepares them not only for individual success but also for contributing to the betterment of their communities and environment.
Education: The Bedrock of Sustainable Development
During the discussions, it was unanimously agreed that education serves as the cornerstone of sustainable development. Without a strong educational foundation, achieving sustainable progress becomes an uphill battle. Cote d’Ivoire-based Vanessa Sesi, an education consultant and lecturer, highlighted that education is not only about imparting knowledge within the classroom but also instilling life skills and moral values that extend beyond academics. These values, such as responsible resource management at home, play a pivotal role in shaping a sustainable society for future generations.
Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships
The potential of public-private partnerships to transform education was a key highlight of the discussions. Experts pointed out that such collaborations could lead to improved infrastructure, enhanced curriculum development, and better performance in standardised tests. Sesi emphasised that the private sector’s vested interest in maintaining their reputation and market presence could drive them to invest in education initiatives more effectively, thereby contributing to the overall development of the education system.
Bridging the Rural-Urban Gap with Technology
The role of technology in bridging the gap between underserved rural communities and urban centres was another major point of contention. The digital divide, particularly the lack of reliable internet access, emerged as a significant challenge. It was noted that investment in education technology infrastructure, including devices and internet connectivity, is essential to ensuring that quality education reaches every corner of the continent. Victor Tubotamuno, venture builders, CEO Earlybrite also added that we need to revamp the curriculum as a matter of urgency to reflect the fourth industrial revolution. According to him there is a need for investment in education technology device infrastructure.
Revamping the Curriculum for Sustainable Development
Participants stressed the importance of updating the educational curriculum to align with the realities of the modern world, including the fourth industrial revolution. Opeifa Olasunkanmi, a multiple award-winngeducator, highlighted the need to infuse subjects with concepts related to climate change, green economy, and other pertinent sustainable development topics. Modernising the curriculum, they argued, requires the collaboration of government officials, policymakers, educators, and industry experts to ensure that students are equipped with the skills necessary for the changing global landscape.
Attracting Quality Teachers
To elevate the teaching profession and attract skilled educators, the Edugist Roundtable proposed a three-pronged approach known as FCT according to Opeifa; Facility improvement, Curriculum enhancement, and Teachers’ capacity development and welfare. It was suggested that creating conducive teaching environments, updating the curriculum, and providing ongoing training and support for educators would make the profession more attractive and thereby contribute to the overall quality of education.
In conclusion, the Edugist Roundtable served as a platform for diverse perspectives and innovative ideas aimed at transforming education’s role in driving sustainable development across Africa. As the continent grapples with various challenges, the consensus was that collaborative efforts, involving governments, the private sector, educators, and the broader community, tapping into the revolutionary power of tech and trends are essential to ensuring that every individual receives a quality education that prepares them to be agents of positive change in their societies and the world at large.