Transformation requires a larger shift to science and technology training
Quality education key to skills upgrade
Summary of paper: Developing Youth Skills and Employment by William Baah-Boateng (ACET)
The availability of sufficient quality human resource is a major prerequisite for economic transformation. However, currently, the quality of human resource in Africa is poor in comparison with other regions.
This is due to several factors: First, the general level of education and skills of the Sub-Saharan African (SSA) labor force is low relative to other regions. While primary level enrolment in the region has improved and has come to par up with its comparators, the same cannot be said for enrolment at secondary and tertiary levels.
Second, the quality of education is also low for several reasons including poor infrastructure and teaching facilities and poorly motivated teachers and supervision among others.
Third, training in humanities is overemphasized relative to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Fourth, the method of teaching and skill training focuses on examinations and certification with little or no emphasis on practical orientation and case studies.
The education system therefore produces students with weak creative instincts, poor problem solving aptitude and an inability to deal with problems in the world of work.
The non-involvement of industry in the human capital development process and the low commitment of policy makers to the promotion of technical and vocational skills training add to challenges confronting human capital development in the region.
Placing SSA on the path of economic transformation requires a number of policy actions and changes in orientation.
Areas that need urgent actions include: addressing skills mismatch by bridging the gap between industry and training/ academic institutions; promotion technical and vocational training; tightening supervision and provision of quality infrastructure; teaching aids and incentives for teacher motivation and a shift from examination and certification based training to practical oriented and problem solving approaches.
A shift from over-production of skills in humanities to the training of youth in STEM is a much-needed change in orientation.
- How can the quality of basic education be improved?
- Should secondary education be free and compulsory to raise school enrolment at that level?
- How can technical, vocational education training (TVET) be used as an instrument to promote entrepreneurship for employment generation?
- What is the best approach to removing the negative stigma often associated with TVET?
- How can the quality of TVET and economic incentives in terms of employment prospects be improved to make it attractive to the youth?
- How relevant is the current tertiary education system in the region for economic transformation?
- How can the imbalance in secondary and tertiary education between humanities and STEM be redressed?
- How can the quality of teaching and learning in STEM be improved?