Education ministers and delegates from 12 African countries have agreed on a broad framework for collaboration between governments, the private sector and education/training institutions that will help to strengthen technical and scientific skills in Africa.
This agreement was facilitated during a high-level Forum hosted by the government of Senegal and the World Bank in Dakar this week.
Senior representatives from Brazil, China, India and Korea shared their experiences and expressed their strong interest in collaborating with African countries to advance this agenda.
On 12 June, the final day of the Dakar Forum, participants — including ministers, scientists, academics, and business leaders — are expected to sign a Call-to-Action outlining how partners will work together to support the skills-building needs of Sub-Saharan African countries.
The Dakar Forum is a follow up to two high level events during the last year. It builds on an earlier PASET conference in Addis Ababa in July 2013, co-hosted by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Education and the World Bank where the Ministers of nine African countries presented draft action plans for collaboration with new partners.
In March 2014, the World Bank also co-hosted, with the Government of Rwanda, a High Level Forum on “Accelerating Africa’s Aspirations: Higher Education for Science, Technology and Innovation” in Kigali, where participants called for ambitious targets such as doubling the percentage of students in Africa enrolled in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.
“In a world where knowledge-based human capital is universally recognised as essential to future productivity growth, our policies should recognize that creating, using and sharing knowledge is of vital importance to our countries,” said Hon. Mary Teuw Niane, Minister of Higher Education and Research, Government of Senegal.
The new Partnership for Skills in the Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) aims to help fill skilled jobs locally in key sectors, such as information technology, construction, the extractive industries, manufacturing, agriculture and energy, which are growing rapidly in many African economies. Higher education, research and technical and vocational training need to be aligned with the needs of these sectors, as well as others, such as agriculture, that are expected to drive future economic growth.
PASET aims to strengthen the role of applied science, engineering and technology as a critical driver of socio-economic transformation. A highly skilled workforce can attract domestic and foreign investment in key sectors, find solutions to Africa’s development challenges, and drive the economic transition to more productive jobs and value-added products that can compete globally.
“As Africa’s youth increasingly complete secondary school and move into technical and vocational education and training—what we call TVET—or enter university, governments and partners need to create conditions that will ensure their onward success. For sustained economic growth at the national level, Africa’s workforce needs to be equipped with stronger skills, so that new technology may be absorbed more effectively,” said Tawhid Nawaz, Acting Director for Human Development in the World Bank’s Africa Region.
Participating African countries include Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.
At the regional level, PASET will help strengthen the role of technical and vocational institutions, improve the quality of postgraduate programs, strengthen data systems, and promote talent, mobility, knowledge sharing and stronger networks among African and partner countries at the regional level.