Education equals economic development

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Ecowas Commission President Mohamed Ibn Chambas has said education is indispensable if Africa is to develop and the enormous potentialities of the continent’s youths are to be unlocked.

“The centrality of education to the development of Africa is beyond question. Education is a key part of strategies to improve individuals’ well-being and societies’ economic and social development,” Dr. Chambas said at the one-day conference on education challenge in Africa, organised Monday by the Africa Commission.

Dr. Chambas added that above all, education must be capable of ”nurturing autonomous individuals that can impact on the environment for the positive transformation of our communities”.

He said the realisation of the importance of education motivated ECOWAS to adopt the protocol on Education and Training in 2003 and the Ministers to adopt priority programmes, including Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); and to set up centres dedicated to Youth and Gender challenges, in Ouagadougou and Dakar respectively.

Dwelling on the objectives of the Africa Commission, established by the Danish government in April 2008 to help put Africa high on the international agenda, focusing on youth and employment and access to education at all levels, the ECOWAS Commission boss said the aproach to tackling the education challenge in Africa would focus on the African youth.

“For many years, the youth question has posed a major challenge to the development and security in Africa and other developing parts of the world.

“Constituting about 60% of the population of Africa and lacking adequate educational and employment opportunities, young people have also often become preys to warlords, extremists groups and criminal networks that have over the years undermined efforts to promote good governance, economic development, peace and security,” Dr. Chambas said in explaining the decision to focus on the youth.

He said the developing world was yet to device ”effective linkages between education, youth employment and poverty reduction”, despite many consultations of the inter relationship between access to education, youth empowerment and poverty reduction.

The conference on education challenge is the first in a series of five thematic conferences planned by the 18-member Africa Commission to enable it prepare a policy recommendation paper to guide its intervention in Africa in favour of youth empowerment and employment.

The conference was charged with evolving ”concrete proposal on the most effective means of transforming the educational system to meet the challenges of sustainable employment opportunities for the African youth”.

Some 80 participants, including Ministers of Education or their representatives from 12 West African nations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders in West Africa attended the conference.

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