AAI hosted its Second Annual State of Education in Africa conference on September 2, 2015 at the InterContinental Hotel Lagos in Lagos, Nigeria. The education conference evaluated and measured the progress of primary, secondary, tertiary, technical and vocational education in Africa and explored thematic, country and sector approaches to strengthening the capacity of Africans and educational institutions.
Bringing together educators and innovators from Africa and the U.S., the education conference highlighted bold approaches to improving the quality of education at all levels to advance development progress and bolster Africa’s global competitiveness and economic growth.
The overarching goals of the State of Education in Africa conference aims:
- To have a solution-driven conversation with policy-makers, educators, administrators, philanthropists and those interested in capacity-building about the challenges and opportunities in education on the African continent.
- To elevate and mainstream the conversation on education as a key component of the economic development narrative of Africa.
- To use AAI’s convening power, visibility and thought-leadership to uniquely identify both the primary obstacles and the practical interventions, which must be implemented to improve the educational landscape in Africa.
The State of Education in Africa 2015 report, which was released at the State of Education in Africa conference in Lagos, Nigeria, provides a snapshot of the progress and challenges in the African education sector.
Conference Outcomes Report
The full conference outcomes report provides reflections and insights from some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners in education on thematic, country and sector approaches to expanding education and strengthening the capacity of Africans and educational institutions.
The Second Annual State of Education in Africa conference featured panels on:
Panel 1: Teacher Training: Equipping new educators with the tools they need for success.
There is no quality education without qualified teachers, yet the acute shortage of qualified teachers has been identified as one of the biggest challenges to achieving education for all. There are still many populations of students in Africa who do not have access to teachers with the capacity to respond to their educational needs. How do we expand the vision of what is required from a teacher in order to ensure that their mastery of basic topics positions them to best educate our children? This panel will provide a look at how we are currently training teachers and the opportunities and challenges of improving the current conditions. It will also be a forum for examining all local, national, regional policies, practice, experiments and research on the training of teachers including the effect of school administration on teachers in primary and secondary schools.
Panel 2: Reforming Science and Technology Education in Africa: Energizing and Unlocking Bright Minds for a Bright Future
Rapid changes in the world—including technological advancement, scientific innovation, increased globalization, shifting workforce demands, and pressures of economic competitiveness—are redefining the broad skill sets that students need to be adequately prepared to participate in and contribute to today’s society. Well trained graduates in science and technology based disciplines can help their countries find effective, cost-efficient, homegrown solutions to pressing development problems that are related to poverty, food security, climate change, urbanization and health. Science and Technology are vitally important for increasing Africa’s competitiveness. Africa’s training infrastructure has historically been under-valued and under-resourced which, in turn, has negatively impacted the capacity of the continent to supply the needed skills base, especially in science and technology. This panel will discuss critical priorities and potential solutions to upgrade higher education systems related to science and technology across Africa, making them more relevant to the needs of its fast-growing economies and competitive in today’s world. This panel will examine avenues in which we can increase support for young people in Africa to take advantage of improved education within the science and technology fields as well as ways to ensure that Africa contributes to the global pool of scientific knowledge and technological innovations.
Panel 3: Spotlight on vocational and technical training and higher education: What is the contribution of the African university in today’s educational climate?
Public universities, as well as vocational technical training schools in Africa are institutions that need to be nurtured, grown and protected as a major investment in the future and a clear indicator of global success for future generations. African universities can be viewed as a critical piece of the educational infrastructure and a place of excellence and innovation. Vocational and technical schools ensure that the African workforce of tomorrow will be ready for the challenges of 21st century technology. Universities conduct research that expands knowledge and offer public educational services that benefit communities near and far. Over the past 25 years, these higher education systems in Africa have attracted nominal support and investment. Some of the main difficulties include low government and leadership support, fiscal challenges, increasing student enrollments and declining quality standards. How will Africa’s public universities maintain their relevancy? What is the role of the emerging private university? This panel will explore practical solutions, the need for vocational/technical training and challenges and opportunities in higher education throughout the African continent.
Panel 4: Early Childhood Education: Helping the most at-risk succeed
Early childhood education is of critical value to all children and should be available to all. Education early in a child’s life helps to develop skills, knowledge, a sense of responsibility and confidence while providing a sound basis for learning. A growing body of international evidence shows that appropriate investment in early childhood development benefits society as a whole. A strong foundation in early childhood lays the groundwork for responsible citizenship, economic prosperity, healthy communities, and successful parenting of the next generation. Many school-aged children in Africa are performing poorly and fail to acquire numeracy and literacy skills. This may be a possible consequence of lack early education for these children. Children who participate in quality early education programs at an early age are more ready to learn when they begin school and are less likely to repeat grades or drop out of school. How can we strive to offer the best opportunities for positive human development when children are at the greatest risk? Because negative influences on a child’s early development can be irreversible, this panel will expose recent developments and improvements in the goals of achieving exceptional early childhood education in Africa as well as discuss some of the shortcoming, challenges and struggles to overcome.
Panel 5: Global Best Practices in Education
Countries approaching full primary-school coverage increasingly realize that the pursuit of education for all should not do so at the expense of excellence. Governments from China to Brazil are now talking about quality, a concept which covers everything from the physical condition of schools to better training for teachers and staff. The availability of textbooks and modern facilities including computers and tablets is critical in today’s world. Students who receive a balanced curriculum will have the knowledge, skills and abilities to connect ideas and concepts across all disciplines and are well-prepared for this globalized knowledge-based world. This panel will present global best practices that highlight how to create successful learning environments for students.