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Experts call for total revamp of education systems in Africa
09 July 2010
Afrique en Ligne

Brazzaville: Two leading educationists Tuesday told African education ministers meeting here on curricular reforms that the continent was in imminent danger of being left far behind by others if it did not re-shape its school teaching and learning models to incorporate modern economic and technological dynamics. Dozens of ministers are meeting to reform curricular used in schools, much of which date to colonial times, against the background of findings that African education systems were churning out graduates with insufficient applicable knowledge and skills outside classrooms.

As a result, growing armies of the continent's youths were unwittingly being condemned into unemployment, ill-equipped to productively integrate into society, which experts said posed a social, economic, political and security risk.

Dzingai Mutumbuka, chairman of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), and UNESCO-BREDA director, Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, told the conference in the worst case scenario, African countries faced the possibility of perpetual conflicts and collapse if school curricula was not re-shaped to be meaningful to the youths and local economies. "This conference is a timely one. It is taking place at a time when we, as Africans, should be reflecting deeply about the place of Africa in the world, both in the short and long term," Mutumbuka, a former education minister in Zimbabwe and currently a World Bank consultant, said.

"We should be strategic in shaping the way our education and training systems mould and prepare our children, not only to face a host of serious challenges but also to seize opportunities that exist in the current and future global and regional contexts," he said.

According to him, "he challenge, therefore, is for African policy-makers and their partners, both national and international, to re-think the education and training in their objectives, structures, contexts and financing. In doing so, they s hould take into account the ground-breaking scientific and technological advances being made as these are irreversibly changing the structures of modern economies."

He said the global financial crisis had worsened youth unemployment in Africa, making it urgently imperative for the continent to reform its education system to equip young people with practical life skills.

Ndong-Jatta said African education had lost relevance to the end user, and as a result the dreams and hopes of the continent's youth were increasingly being unfulfilled. "Questions need to be asked regarding the relevance and quality of the knowledge and skills taught in schools for the world of work and quality of life, among others," she said.

According to her, "The current situation can have serious economic, social, political and national security implications if left unaddressed for the African continent."

The UNESCO official said it was important to reform African education curricular, not only to enable schools to equip children with relevant life skills and knowledge, but also to re-shape society as a whole. "Curriculum reflects the kind of society being developed and thus linked to key definitions of the role that education should play," Ndong-Jatta said.

Keywords: education, youth,
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