It was an honor to deliver the keynote lecture on Thursday, September 15, 2022, on Education and Science Day at the celebrations of the 2022 Hungary-Africa Week in Budapest, Hungary. The topic of my lecture was Revisiting Leadership Issues in Africa’s Contemporary Education Systems: Education, Training, and Youth in African Union Programs. My talk focused on the leadership challenges that the African continent has been confronted with since the early 1960s, when many countries started to become independent from colonial rule. I spoke about how the leadership in Africa began to invest heavily in the education sector due to this need, as the continent was characterized by deficient literacy levels, which marked most newly independent countries. Leadership challenges continue to baffle the continent. I also spoke about the latest developments in education and training in the continent and Africa’s participation in the forthcoming Transforming Education Summit that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is organizing on September 19, 2022, at UN Headquarters in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly. This summit is expected to mobilize action, ambition, solidarity, and solutions to transform education between now and 2030. National and international commitments to transform education and greater public engagement and support for transforming education are significant outcomes expected from this summit.
I also revealed the results of the African Union’s recently concluded Fourth Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science, and Technology under the theme “Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation to respond, strengthen and build resilience in a post-COVID-19 Pandemic and recovery of Africa”. I spoke about the need to strengthen science, technology, and innovation response. Given the unprecedented challenges that include social, economic, environmental and Covid-19 issues, driven by accelerating globalization and a faster rate of technological developments, CAFOR, and its partners, are analyzing the needs and opportunities emanating from these transformations and are determined to look beyond Africa’s Continental Education Strategy (CESA 16-25) and examine how schools can prepare children in Africa for jobs that have not yet been created or technologies that have not yet been invented or solve problems that have not yet been anticipated through new kinds of innovation. Therefore, we at CAFOR are future-looking and will work towards building stronger partnerships within the continent and beyond, especially with a country like Hungary, while ensuring a shared responsibility as we seize new opportunities and find solutions.
Following my lecture and a Roundtable discussion, CAFOR signed a new cooperation agreement in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the University of Pécs, a leading Hungarian University. I signed the agreement on behalf of CAFOR, while Prof. Dr. Ferenc JAKAB, the Vice-Rector for Innovation at the University of Pécs, signed the MoU on behalf of the University of Pécs. Through this MoU, CAFOR and the University of Pécs agree to establish the terms of engagement to collaborate in various areas of mutual interest, such as facilitating research, building capacity, and supporting skills development for African youth. The CAFOR-University of Pécs Program will increase access to quality education for underprivileged individuals in Africa and help them with the skill set required to close the workforce gaps and increase the likelihood of success in academics and entrepreneurship. CAFOR and the University of Pécs will also identify each party’s key roles and responsibilities as they work jointly to establish a research program with African scholars and students and the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Program to support African students at the University of Pécs for postgraduate courses.
The University of Pécs, with its 22,000 students, and more than 4,500 international students, with 1,400 lecturers and researchers, with its ten faculties, is one of the largest and most internationalized higher education institutions in Hungary is the center of knowledge within the Transdanubian region. Its roots date back to 1367 when the first university was founded in the city of Pécs. The University of Pécs represents classical values, while the challenges of the present and future times are being adapted successfully as well. Covering a wide range of academic areas, it reaches out far beyond the city of Pécs, as it operates some of its units and runs effective training programs across the region.