Africa's youth Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images

Capitalizing on Africa’s Youth Dividend

For Africa, the question is no longer “if” students are taught, but “what.” Unfortunately, while access to education has improved significantly in recent decades, school curricula have changed little since the colonial era, when secondary education was an elite privilege designed to advance the careers of a select few.

TORONTO – When South African university students took to the streets in 2016 as part of the “Fees Must Fall” protest movement, the “decolonization of the curriculum” was among the movement’s chief concerns. It was a pivotal moment in South Africa’s history, as young people rose to demand quality and accessible education. But a crucial question was missing from the debate over fees and curricular relevance: how can changes to higher education empower Africa’s youth to drive the continent’s economic transformation?

For Africa, the question is no longer “if” students are taught, but “what.” Unfortunately, while access to education has improved significantly in recent decades, school curricula have changed little since the colonial era, when secondary education was an elite privilege designed to advance the careers of a select few. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programs have also suffered from neglect. Today, these initiatives are marked by outdated courses and rote learning methods that fail to prepare young people for the demands of the twenty-first-century job market.

The trouble goes beyond traditional components of the curriculum, like math, science, and language. There is also a deficiency in critical “soft” skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem solving. Though neglected, it is these skills that enable young people to become adaptable, lifelong learners. The mastery of soft skills correlates to improved outcomes in school, work, and life. Yet, until recently, training in soft skills has not been integrated into formal education systems on the continent.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/wglIynu;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.