Although Africa has demonstrated significant progress in increasing primary education enrolment, it has some of the lowest completion rates in the world. Only 12 African countries have completion rates for primary education above 80% (UNDP, 2014). More importantly, students who attend and complete primary and secondary school do not necessarily receive quality education. A World Bank reports state that in recent international benchmark assessment of ninth grade students, 79% of students from Ghana and 76% of students from South Africa do not surpass the lowest level of math proficiency (World Bank, 2014). Incomplete schooling and inadequate primary education – and particularly in STEM areas – prevents young people from acquiring the base level skills they need to succeed in college and eventually obtain jobs in key sectors on the continent such as energy, business and agriculture.
Higher education system is equally inadequate in preparing young students for the workforce. University enrolment has increased in the last twenty years. Yet the African youth have not necessarily emerged from universities with quality skills for the workforce, and attendance in tertiary education is marked by socioeconomic inequalities. An AU Watch study found that employers were dissatisfied both with African college graduates’ soft skills and analytical skills including ability to do teamwork, oral communication skills, problem solving skills and IT skills.
So, what do we do?
We are advocates for educational justice and the high academic achievement of all.
Education transforms lives and is at the heart of AU Watch’s mission to assist the AU and its Members build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development.
• We Write and Develop Curricula. We have embarked on a regional initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of Africa’s youth and the continent. The aim is to rethink education and shape the future. The initiative is catalysing a regional debate on how knowledge, education and learning need to be reimagined in an increasingly complex Africa. We are developing new forms of curricula and campaigning that they are adopted by the AU and its Members.
• Bridging Policy And Community: We seek to influence policy in Africa by engaging key education stakeholders, including policymakers, thought leaders, practitioners, community groups, civic organizations, parents, and students. Our goal is to drive a continental conversation about how our education system can better serve Africa.
• Data For The People: We identify and analyse data related to the inequities in schools that disproportionately impact students, especially girls. We use a gender lens to expose underlying causes of these inequities and identify equity-focused strategies advancing educational justice. We equip education advocates with actionable and accessible data in order to hold school and college systems and state leaders accountable for better educational opportunities and outcomes.
• Equity In Action: We work directly with schools, districts, and higher education institutions to understand and evaluate the effectiveness of strategies intended to increase access and supports for all students.
• Pan-African Studies: We advocate for the AU and its Members to adopt Pan-African programs at the early childhood, primary, and secondary levels. These programs include, anti-corruption studies, African Human Rights System, general AU Studies, finance and money, and even practical programs like carpentry, IT, tailoring, building and even home economics. We also work to build the capacity of the educational system by constructing schools, classroom facilities, developing specialised programmes, and supporting schools, teachers and other educational staff.
• AU Watch JRS implements educational services in emergency situations as well as in protracted displacement crises, offering several levels of education programmes and adult literacy courses.
AU Watch dedicates itself to four areas of focus in its educational programming:
(a) Developing Pan-African Curriculum
Knowledge and learning are Africa’s greatest renewable resources for responding to challenges and reaching 2063 with all the milestones achieved. Yet, education does more than respond to a changing Africa. Education has the potential to completely transform Africa. But in many places on the continent, the education is wrong. Millions of students graduate with little or no knowledge about who they as a people and why Africa is where it is. So, we invite you to re-thinking education with us so that we can act together to get to the Africa we all want. Part of that process involves designing and writing new curriculums for primary and secondary schools.
(b) Teacher Development
Inspired by the Ubuntu pedagogy, AU Watch inputs strives to develop men and women of competence, conscience, and compassion. We value a collaborative process between and among faculty and students which fosters personal and cooperative study, discovery, creativity, and reflection to promote life-long learning and action in service to others. emphasises the role of the teacher as a transformative educator who can provide more than just quality instruction.
(c) Enhancing Access to Education, with a focus on girls
Every day, in Africa, girls face barriers to education caused by poverty, cultural norms and practices, poor infrastructure, violence and fragility. Girls’ education is a strategic development priority for AU Watch. According to UNESCO estimates, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age—half of them in sub-Saharan Africa— will never enter a classroom. AU Watch recognises this disparity, and offers focused programmes that support girls as they progress throughout primary school and transition to secondary education.
(d) Professional and Post-Secondary Education
We refuse to accept the present way education is organised in many places in Africa. So many of our children leave schools without knowledge or skills fit for work. What stops us from introducing right from primary schools’ programmes like IT, carpentry, tailoring, finance, human rights and Pan-African studies? We offer programmes that promote educational and professional goals for youth and adults. This can include language courses and professional skills trainings to promote sustainable livelihoods.
Want to be part of our education project? We are looking to pedagogists, writers of curriculum and syllabuses, trainers and educational project managers.