President Paul Kagame has urged the private sector to do more to improve tertiary education on the African continent.
Kagame made the remarks in his keynote speech on today during the official opening of the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa forum (SDGC/A) at Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Center in Kigali.
Held under the theme “Mobilizing African Intellectuals Towards Quality Tertiary Education”, the two-day summit meeting is an effort aimed to convene major stakeholders for essential discussions on major themes relevant to SDG implementation in tertiary education and research throughout Africa.
As a platform for intellectuals’ engagement, the workshop is specifically designed for the field of actors who are exposed to Africa’s higher education bottlenecks in their daily professional lives.
In his speech, Kagame said that there has been much progress in the education sector in recent years, including through the catalyst that was the Millennium Development Goals. In particular, he noted, access to education has greatly improved.
“This is important to acknowledge because it shows that we can do it. But it is not enough to support the ambition we have for our continent. More children are attending school but Africa needs much more graduates with knowledge and skills, to grow and sustain our economies, and shape the future of the continent.”
“This is far from what is required to end poverty and instability, achieve prosperity, or even sustain our dignity as human beings. We, therefore, have to find ever more innovative ways to attract needed resources from the private sector,” the President said.
Experts say Africa universities currently function in very difficult circumstances amidst social, economic and political problems facing the continent and in the context of globalization.
To overcome these challenges Kagame said that the role of government in setting education policies, and as the primary funder of education will and has to continue. However, governments alone, even with the right levels of financial allocation to the sector and the support of development partners, cannot sustain the momentum needed.
“We, therefore, have to find ever more innovative ways to attract needed resources from the private sector. This is especially because businesses have a vested interest in the quality of graduates and the skills they bring to the market.”
On this, he explained that modern technology including ICT presents unprecedented opportunities to overcome barriers to delivering information and skills to the population. In particular, how affordable broadband will open up new pathways to world-class education, and vastly improve global collaboration on research.
“Our responsibility now is to work together to create the right conditions for delivery of the twenty-first Century education that everyone deserves, in order that we may all benefit from their talents.” He added
By compound rankings, Africa is reported to have only ten universities among the top 1,000 universities in the world which experts say echoes the pretty low quality. Besides over US$4 billion is spent per annum to employ over 100,000 western experts to provide technical assistance.
Dr. Belay Begashaw, the director general of the SDG Center for Africa, condemned the fact that solving many of African problems is often done by outsourcing intellectuals outside the continent.
On this, he said; “This this is unacceptable. We have to do things differently,” Begashaw observed, adding; “The challenges faced can be addressed if all stakeholders worked together.