On Tuesday, 31 October 2017, Fundi gathered 8 heads of states from across Africa to discuss a vital topic – the state of education and funding in Africa. This event hosted over 600 business leaders and academics – all of whom have the ability and drive to aid in making a difference in the education space in Africa.
“The difference is education. My mission was quite simple. We’re dedicating our time to liberate people. My challenge to you is quite simple…How many liberators are we creating each? How many people are we able to impact? What’s your story?”
– Amasi Mwela (CEO of Fundi Capital)
With Mwela’s outlook and experience on education as the starting point, panelists started the conversation surrounding education in Africa. While each panelist, all of whom are heads of state in their countries, have different experiences and ideas on education, they all agreed on one thing – quality education is the goal. Only aiming to acquire a university degree is not the goal and this is not the driving force to end poverty.
If not university, then what?
Fatima Habib, director on various boards, including Fundi and Get Me to Graduation, points out that vocational education is a sorely under-appreciated means of education and is the way forward:
“Higher education is not the only route out. Not every child can make it to university. A mix of skills are needed in society. Vocational education training is what we’re lacking in South Africa. We need to start glamourizing vocational education and make it seem sexy. It’s not only a university education that is a way out of poverty. Vocational education is critical to the success of the youth in this country.”
While a university education is important and necessary for successful economic and personal growth, it is not realistic and reachable for all people in South Africa. Not only is it not realistic, but it is also not suited to each individual. For the more practically gifted, vocational training is the way forward. And government is starting to realise this.
Government has increased their budget for vocational training colleges – allowing them to improve facilities and improve the quality of education being provided to students. Mwela supports this by saying:
“We’re solving where we see a need and we’re going for that.”
With so many leaders in the educational realm supporting the notion of pursuing higher education in the vocational space, education is starting to look promising. However, having the conversation surrounding this is only the first step. Acting on it and thoroughly implementing these solutions is the next, and most vital, step.
As demonstrated by students across South Africa with the #FeesMustFall movement, funding is a major concern and barrier to reach the point to decrease poverty and ensure economic and personal growth in South Africa.
Former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, says
“Government must spend money. Government must be committed and provide the infrastructure and training for the teachers. […] However, government alone can no longer fund education.”
That exact statement is why forums such as the Fundi Inaugural Education Forum is so critical in Africa. Discussing the problems Africa as a continent faces and problem-solving together is the best way we will move forward. Acknowledging the problems and realizing the developments and changes needed for the future, is the way Africa will move forward towards economic growth.
Inviting business leaders and academics to these events allows the conversation to have more reach. It allows individuals and organisations to join in on the conversation and feel a part of the team who will drive change and success in South Africa, and the rest of the African continent.
Collaboration is the future
Rupiah Banda, former president of Zambia, makes reference to the most advanced countries in the world as an example of how education influences its success.
“It is my firm belief, that the most advanced countries all over the world, are those which have had a long history of quality education at all levels. Especially at university.”
He goes on to say:
“Almost all these universities were not founded by government. But by visionary individuals. However, in Africa, it is my conceded view that a more versatile, more innovative model of establishing, financing and running higher education will have to be adopted.”
How will this versatile, innovative model be achieved?
“I would like to venture that the solution lies in the harnessing of government and private sectors strengths in a collaborative way.”
When people with great power and great visions come together, great things can be achieved. If we want to see change in our communities, the communities we are born from and who have raised us, we need to be prepared to put in the effort and work together to make it great. Change starts from within.
Individuals and organisations can work with government to efficiently and successfully fund quality education. When we have achieved quality education we will raise up a generation of skilled, dedicated individuals who will drive our countries to success and growth.
Technology is at the heart of growth
The world has gone through a lot of technological growth. With the USA and Europe as the pioneers of this growth, Africa has a lot of catching up to do.
“God didn’t bring us to this world to be doomed by modern developments. He brought us here to think and find modern solutions.”
– Rupiah Banda
When we embrace technology, and all of the advancements and accessibility to quality resources that accompanies it, we will see change. When we incorporate it into our discussions, our solutions and our education systems, growth and success will naturally follow. When we open the eyes of communities to the knowledge available to them, at the click of a button, change will inevitably follow.
The Fundi Inaugural Education Forum 2017 is the start of change. It opened up conversation to find solutions in the education space. It invited thought leaders, individuals and organisations to partake in the conversation and to fuel them to take on the responsibility of driving this change in their communities, and ultimately in their countries. As the cliché goes – be the change you want to see in the world. We all want to see Africa developed into a continent with quality education, great leaders and a successful economy.
“I believe that we should look at what we’ve done right and what we’ve done wrong. We need to learn from those experiences.”
– John Mahama, former president of Ghana.
When government and the private sector start working together, using their combined experiences and knowledge, we will find the solution we need to drive change and success.
Join in on the conversation, take a stand and be the change you want to see. Change starts now.