The African Development Bank recently hosted virtual consultations with African government ministers, representatives of the African Union, government officials, and academics to gather views on the implementation of the Bank’s Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa Action Plan for 2022-2025.
The first session on 12 April focused on East and Southern African countries. The second, on April 13, targeted countries in Central, North, and West Africa. The Bank is seeking regional member countries’ endorsement of the Action Plan and inputs on how the plan can support investment in higher education, science, and technology, and technical and vocational education and training – also known as TVET.
“It’s another milestone in the Bank’s partnership with our regional member countries to forge partnership in equipping Africa’s labor force with in-demand skills … African youth have the potential to become the world’s largest resource for productive and innovative labor if they are equipped with quality and relevant skills,” said Beth Dunford, Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.
The Action Plan comes at a critical juncture when Africa is ramping up efforts to enhance scientific and technological capabilities for a more productive and innovative society. Malawi’s Minister of Education, Agnes Nyalonje, said the Action Plan was in line with her country’s aspirations in education and skills development. “We will benefit every inch of the way in the investments and focus that the Bank wants to bring to higher education and TVET,” she said.
The Skills for Employability and Productivity in Africa Action Plan is anchored in the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy (2016–2025), which seeks to create 25 million jobs and equip 50 million youth with relevant skills. Public financing of TVET and higher education across the continent has not kept pace with demand. Infrastructure gaps, like shortages of classrooms, libraries, and laboratories, are negatively impacting access, quality, and equity in the sector.
Pascal Gatabazi, the chief technical advisor in Rwanda’s ministry of education, said: “The government of Rwanda has put human capital development on the top of its [development] agenda, with technical and vocational education as a top priority. The government has been putting significant investment in TVET, and that’s why…we have a dedicated ministry in charge of IT and TVET,” he said.
Martha Phiri, the Bank’s Director for Human Capital, Youth, and Skills Development, said the Bank will leverage partnerships to boost investment in education infrastructure. This will result in substantial increases in the number of African graduates studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or pursuing technical and vocational education and training. “Our Action Plan places special emphasis on digital skills, online learning, and entrepreneurship,” said Phiri.
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