UNECA’s Aida Opoku-Mensah calls on govts to refocus education curricula at eLA2017

African governments must refocus their education curricula and put in place new programmes that factor in mega trends and 4IR, which is the fourth industrial revolution that is all about connectivity, UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Aida Opoku-Mensah recently said.

Ms. Opoku-Mensah, ECA’s Special Adviser on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, was speaking at the eLA2017’s 12th international conference on ICT for development, education and training that was held in Port Louis, Mauritius.

(TOP: Aida Opoku-Mensah poses for a photo next to the eLA2015 banner. Photo: eLA news portal). 

eLearning Africa is the key networking event for ICT enhanced education and training in Africa and brings together high-level policy makers, decision makers and practitioners from education, business and government. ‘Learning in Context’ was the theme of this year’s eLearning Africa.

Context, said Ms. Opoku-Mensah, is a vital factor in education in Africa, especially with all the challenges that need to be addressed if the continent is to adequately prepare for the future.

“The future is here and it requires new skills. This goes straight to the centrality of education,” she said, adding education on the continent has to be adapted to suit the emergent future.

Mega-trends and technology are influencing education with the world continuing to change as a result of trends and Africa should not be left behind, said Ms. Opoku-Mensah.

“The increase in our population will significantly intensify existing challenges on creating meaningful job opportunities to address youth unemployment in each country so our governments must act quickly and collaborate with private and education sectors to address this,” she told participants.

Ms. Opoku-Mensah said ICTs and the new wave of technological advances were creating newer opportunities.

“This is a big test for governments’ ability to harness benefits and devise plans to shape the future of education and its oversight,” she said, adding African countries also need to have a say on how to influence international conventions to ensure optimum economic benefits.

Ms. Opoku-Mensah also spoke about the significance of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) targets, indicators and impacts

She said education was important for the continent’s economic transformation, adding governments need to create a new playing field for new business models.

Ms. Opoku-Mensah emphasized the importance of education for the 4IR; a curriculum that is based on educating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); investments in ICTs in education sector and in building technical knowledge skills.

“We need to address the skills challenge in Africa and produce more better-quality teachers with great teaching materials as well as use e-Learning more often to speed up the skills gap,” the ECA Adviser said, adding sector-specific training should be prioritized.

These include skills for mining to prevent enclave economies due to limited local skills; skills for agribusiness; and manufacturing training.

Ms. Opoku-Mensah said building skills set for manufacturing in Africa was a priority as they are on the decline, adding this is why it is important for the continent to refocus its education curricula.

The conference considered a range of important issues, which relate to context, including how context affects the overall provision of education in Africa; what the opportunities are of a properly contextualized approach to education and training; how exactly context can be designed into education initiatives; and how eLearning and digitalization can support inclusivity, increase access to information and help to pass on Africa’s rich heritage of traditional knowledge.


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