By Patricia Kapulula
Underfunding in the education budget in most member state countries in the African Union (AU) is a serious challenge affecting the sector which if left unchecked can hinder the Agenda 2063 which the continent is advancing.
Agenda 2063 is Africa’s strategic framework for the social economic transformation over the next fifty years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.
African Union Commission (AUC) Head of Education Division, Dr Beatrice Njenga made the observation in Lilongwe on Thursday ahead of the Extraordinary Summit of the Committee of ten heads of state and government (C10) Championing Education, Science and Technology in Africa.
She said education is everybody’s business hence the need for both governments and the private sector to work together in addressing challenges affecting the sector.
“There is need for more creative and innovative ways of financing education including the private sector industry because they are the consumers of human resources. What they are putting back in education and how the government is helping them to be able to put in place education policies to contribute to research,” she said.
She observed that it is incumbent upon every sector to make their contribution to education development in their countries.
Njenga said there is need to put in place funds for supporting agricultural research, for supporting young people to develop careers in areas of research, innovation and technology.
“Realizing that the absence of quality education, the absence of literate communities, the absence of investment in research and development that is slowing Africa’s development, AU has raised education to the highest possible level,” she said.
Despite AU having continental strategies on science and youth development, there is need to be championing education at the highest level so that member states take charge and control.
Njenga said Africa should hold their respective governments responsible for championing education and allocating 25 percent of the annual budget on education.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Bright Msaka said the summit is important for Malawi because it will accord the country an opportunity to take on board issues in the education sector and get the necessary solutions to challenges faced.
He said Malawi has put education on the national agenda by establishing a special college to deal with science.
“We have placed a lot of emphasis on the sciences including establishing a special college, Nalikule College. So we believe as a country that this country will only develop on the shoulders of sons and daughters well educated and knowledgeable in science, technology, innovation and research,” he said.
Msaka said when the youths do research and develop things they will be able to prepare this country for the challenges and opportunities that Malawi will face in the years to come.
He further said that Malawi brings on the table to the summit human capital development, investing in its citizens to ensure that they have the capacity to take on the responsibility of developing this country through science, technology, research and innovation.
The Committee of ten heads of state and government (C10) Championing Education, Science and Technology in Africa was endorsed by the African Union Assembly of January, 2018 and held its inaugural meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 27 January 2018.
The C10 is coordinated by the Republic of Senegal President, Macky Sall. Other members are Malawi, who is the vice chair, Kenya, Mauritius, Namibia, Chad, Gabon, Tunisia, Egypt and Sierra Leone.