The government's plan for the education sector beyond the 2015 Millennium Development Goals is to develop an education system that will be responsive to labour market needs, the Minister for Education, Prof. Silas Lwakabamba, has said.
Lwakabamba was speaking at the opening of a three-day Unesco-Africa regional conference in Kigali yesterday. The conference brings together ministers and other high-level education officials from 44 African countries.
The meeting has also attracted other global actors in education to discuss issues, challenges and priorities for education post-2015.
Lwakabamba said following the achievement of MDG related to the education sector and the Education For All initiative, Rwanda would embark on developing a system that reflects the social, economic and demographic transformation that the country is going through.
“Future education development priorities must reflect the socio- economic and demographic transformations that have occurred since the adoption of Education for All initiative and MDGs,” he said.
Noting that the requirements concerning the type and level of skills necessary for knowledge-based economies have since changed with the labour market, Lwakabamba said Rwanda’s system must be capable of focusing, adapting and being responsive to changes.
In this case, he said, together with partners and stakeholders, they would find new meaningful solutions that lay a foundation for a new education agenda post-2015 to complete unfinished business by going beyond the current goals in terms of depth and scope.
“Education needs to provide people with the understanding, competences and values they require to address the many challenges that our societies and economies are facing,” the minister added.
Rwanda has so far achieved targets set in the MDGs in education as well as objectives set by the Education for All initiative by making necessary investments and forging partnerships.
Lwakabamba said Rwanda had gone beyond set targets such as in provision of basic primary education to provision of basic secondary education, which made up the 12-Year Basic Education programme.
Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called for increased partnerships among global partners in the provision of quality education that goes beyond basic learning.
Gillard is currently the chairperson of Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a multi-national effort working with 60 developing nations to enable all children, including the needy and most marginalised, receive a quality education.
Gillard, who was appointed to the position in February, last year, said to achieve the desired progress, it is crucial to build a partnership of governments, civil societies, private sector and other stakeholders to ensure a robust education sector plan.
“This should be a year of strategic change for global partnerships in education so that it emerges stronger and more effective in the future. It should be a year of strategic opportunities for the global education community as we work our way to ensure that more children get better access to education that doesn’t end at the level of basic primary education,” Gillard said.
Dr Qian Tang, assistant director-general for education at Unesco, said there were success stories in the region in regards to achievement of MDGs such as Rwanda despite most countries lagging behind.
Among the challenges that continued to hold back access to education in the sub-Saharan region, he noted, were the high number of children still out of school, mostly girls.
Tang also cited the low student-teacher ratio in most countries as well as the mismatch between skills offered and job market demands.