The African Union (AU) has called for further investments in education and skills development in Africa by applying a new form of social contract.
The call was made by Mohamed Belhocine, the AU commissioner for education, science, technology and innovation, addressing the fifth Session of the Committee on Social Policy, Poverty and Gender, according to a United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) statement issued Monday.
Belhocine highlighted that a new social contract anchored in education and skills development is the key to unlocking Africa’s potential and fulfilling the aspirations of its people.
“The success of a new social contract requires that Africa harness its population demographic dividend, especially the women and youth, whose energy, creativity and courage must drive its development agenda,” said Belhocine.
He said a paradigm shift in the approach to education and skills development is required to move beyond traditional models and embrace innovative methods that harness technology, creativity, and experiential learning.
The AU commissioner further emphasized the crucial need to close the gender gap in education and skills development in Africa.
“Empowering women and girls through education is not just a moral imperative but an economic one,” Belhocine said. “When women have equal access to education and opportunities, they contribute significantly to economic growth and social development.”
Belhocine said even though the African continent is the cradle of humanity and the site of unparalleled diversity with a youthful population along with abundant natural resources and vast potential for growth and prosperity, Africa is grappling with numerous challenges, including poverty, inequality and social disparities.
“We must ensure that every child in Africa has access to quality education, regardless of their background or location,” said Belhocine.
“We must invest in programs that equip African youth with the skills necessary to thrive in the modern job market. This includes digital literacy, vocational training, and entrepreneurship education. By doing so, we not only unlock economic potential but also foster innovation and self-reliance.”
The AU commissioner urged African governments, civil society and the private sector to collaborate to invest in education and skills development. He said inclusivity should be the guiding principle in ensuring that education and skills development reach the most marginalized and vulnerable communities.
According to the UNECA, African youth can contribute to the economic transformation of the continent but need skills to be employable, a challenge that should be addressed through investment in education and skills development.
The UNECA, citing figures from the African Development Bank, said Africa’s youth population is expected to double to 830 million by 2050, making education and skill development even more critical. Enditem