World leaders meet to discuss Africa’s learning crisis

Founder and CEO of Human Capital Africa, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, addresses the Human Capital Africa (HCA) roundtable on the learning crisis in Africa at the Harvard Club in New York, US.

It has been noted that the Sub-Saharan Africa has a magnitude of learning crisis that needs evidence-based approaches to help reverse the situation.

This was highlighted by Mr Frank Nweke, a member of the Human Capital Africa corporate board, who represented the chairperson of the Advisory Board and former President of Malawi, Dr Joyce Banda, during the Human Capital Africa (HCA) roundtable on the learning crisis in Africa that has taken place at the Harvard Club in New York.

Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of HCA, began the event with a compelling address setting the tone for the day by emphasising the urgency of the learning crisis.

She highlighted the need and the urgency to address the fact that nine out of 10 children in Africa are unable to read with understanding by the age of 10.

“Education is a key catalyst to resolve many of the challenges faced by our continent. Every child deserves quality education and this can only be achieved if we all take responsibility and invest in foundational literacy and numeracy wherever we are. If we do not, then the ripple effect will extend beyond Africa, to the economies of big nations. Setting the right foundations for learning during the early years, before the child ends grades 2 and 3, is fundamental. This is a challenge we can solve and we can change the situation faster than we imagine if we are all coordinated.” Dr Ezekwesili said.

Speaking at the event which attracted different heads of state, education ministers, business leaders, civil society organisations and distinguished African intellectuals is held alongside the United Nations General Assembly, the CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman stressed the need for every child in Africa to access quality education .

“We’re all here because we believe every child deserves quality education. A great education is essential for a healthy future for all. Unlocking that potential starts with our children and young people, especially in Africa. By 2050, one in every four people on the planet will be African. Fifty per cent of the African population will be under 25,” he said.

From L-R: Chair of the Board of Directors at Global Partnership for Education and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete; Founder and CEO of Human Capital Africa, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili and Founder and CEO of the Great Green Wall of Africa (GGWoA) Foundation, Ms Ramatoulaye Diallo N’diaye.

Adding: “Many of the people who will transform the continent—and find solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges are children now. These are the people who will start businesses that lift up their communities, who will tackle climate change and build food security, and who will make discoveries that can help reduce maternal mortality and eradicate malaria. The time to act is now. It’s valuable to make these commitments here in New York – but the real work is being done by talented teachers and school leaders in classrooms and communities across Africa.” 

In her submission, Uganda’s State Minister for Primary Education, Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, said the country has walked the talk to improve education by investing in the human capital scorecard to ensure that needed data is collected to make policy decisions.

“More investments should be made and there is a need to learn from homegrown solutions to fix the learning crisis. Ultimately, our aim is to establish a system capable of understanding classroom needs, implementing structured pedagogical interventions, observing progress and adjusting interventions based on the system’s reaction and maintaining regular accountability to the targets we set to improve FLN outcomes,” she said.

Closing the conference that aimed to discuss the crucial role of foundational learning in enhancing education for the future of Africa and to highlight the leadership being demonstrated across the continent in a bid to tackle the issue, Dr Ezekwesili called for togetherness so that progress of the matter is realised.

“We must all work together to ensure that we retain a focus on this issue and continue to build its salience across the continent and across the world. We are making progress, but we must reinforce our efforts if we are going to address this challenge. Our commitments are manifesting into action, but this journey is still just beginning. We will work harder, together, to ensure that no child is left behind.”


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