A MAJOR conference on tertiary education concluded on Thursday in Kigali with Africa’s education leaders committing to work to bring sustainable solutions to the continent’s higher education challenges.
The two-day symposium was held under the theme, “Mobilising African Intellectuals towards Quality Tertiary Education.”
Speaking during the closing ceremony of the conference, Education minister Papias Malimba Musafiri said lower secondary education has become part of a compulsory basic education cycle, thus exerting pressure on access to upper secondary education.
He said the government commits to continue promoting partnerships for mutually promoting Africa’s higher education, but also argued that countries should continue investing more in basic skills.
“Considering the growing rates of youth and unemployment rates on Africa’s economy, there is equally a pressing need to heavily invest in entrepreneurship, innovation and Technical and Vocational Education and Training to produce labour force with adequate hands-on skills to meet the labour market demand and create jobs,” Musafiri said.
Nabil Mohamed Ahmed, the minister for higher education and research in Djibouti, said, as African leaders, the education ministers should commit to reform the sector.
“What we need to do now as leaders is to reform and transform our education systems. We have already seen that some of our higher learning institutions are not relevant with the age we are living in today,” he said.
Mohamed said African leaders should take actions to encourage and promote research and innovation development among higher education institutions, as this would greatly improve the quality of education.
Tidjani Idrissa, the Niger’s minister for professional and technical education, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to working with all African countries to invest in the sector, particularly tertiary education.
“We believe that these are the foundations that prepare generations for labour market. We also think more platforms like the Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa (SDGC/A) should be available to hold leaders accountable and serve to enable leaders to evaluate the level of implementation,” he said.
The ‘Kigali Initiative’ unveiled
One of the highlights of the conference was the unveiling of the ‘Kigali Initiative’, which aims at mobilising African leaders and society to invest strongly and consistently in the upgrading of Africa’s tertiary education, with a goal to create a high-level of performance throughout Africa
“The aim is to achieve at least 25 African universities within the top 300 universities worldwide by 2030 based on international ranking and evaluations that are relevant for Africa’s needs, and foster the leadership of Africa’s universities toward the achievement of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 through revised curricula, degree programmes, executive training, research, entrepreneurship and policy advising,” said Belay Begashaw, the director-general of Sustainable Development Goals Centre for Africa (SDGC/A).
Begashaw said, under the initiative, they want to create a network of vice chancellors of African universities, mobilise African intellectuals, business leaders, and the Diaspora to support the initiative and to pull together toward its success.
“We also want to prepare a roadmap for action with potential for including a proposal for funding by the end of 2017 to be adopted by a network of vice chancellors and to be presented to the leadership of the African Union,” he added.