Innovating Education in Africa Expo 2019 is to be held in Gaborone, Botswana this year, from August 20-22, 2019. The event is organized by the African Union Human Resource Science and Technology Commission (HRST), in collaboration with UNSECO, GIZ and other regional and International stakeholders as flagship event of the Union. The expo aims to showcase innovations in Africa today.
The expo is being held under the theme “Harnessing the Capacity of ICT.” According to the organizers, it’s goal is to ensure inclusion, quality and impact in education and training in Africa, as well as to showcase practical social and technological innovations. According to the organizers, it is also to enhance access, quality, relevance and inclusion in education in order to release the potential for empowerment, employability and inventiveness.
The Head of Education Division in the African Union Human Resource Science and Technology Commission (HRST), Dr. Beatrice Njenga said the Innovative Expo Showcases practical innovations in the use of ICT in education, which are being implemented in Africa today. Dr. Beatrice Njenga further stated that Innovative Expo have unique potential to be scaled and replicated across the continent to improve education delivery and management to advance the continental education strategy for Africa.
The event will also provide an opportunity for researchers to present papers on innovative ideas which have the potential to be implemented in Africa for sustainable impact, Dr. Njenga said.
Dr. Njenga Further Emphasized ‘the goal of this event is to create a platform for stakeholders across the spectrum of education development to engage and potentially find areas for collaboration and partnership to advance the common goal of the African Union towards a prosperous Africa.’
Explaining the very concept of the African Union’s continental educational strategies, the Executive Director of Coalition on Media and Education for Development Africa Forum, Dr. Lawalley Aba Cole stressed the importance of raising the visibility of innovative practices to ensure education systems in Africa are relevant to young Africans with skills that correspond to the labor market. This Expo will also create an opportunity for the meeting of youth from different African nations,’ Dr. Cole added.
According to Dr. Cole the Innovation Expo will also be an opportunity to celebrate African innovators, and expose them to networks of potential markets, advisors and sponsors for their work.
Despite policies and strategies geared to fully optimize the potential of harvesting the demographic dividend in the continent, there have been critics surrounding the implementation of continental strategy programs focusing on skills development directed at youth who are the majority of the population.
According to the global observatory report published in 2018, ‘the lack of continental integration, the poor absorbing capacity, and the strong emphasis on politics rather than social developments are the main problems surrounding the applications of AU’s social, educational and developmental strategies.’
According to African Developmental Bank (ADB) report, ‘in northern and southern Africa, there has been an obvious and growing quantitative overproduction of higher education graduates compared to what the labor market can absorb.’ Governments have increased the number of higher education providers, but not focused on the needs and realities of the productive sectors of the economy. The ADB report further says, African governments must ensure that young people engage in technology and innovation, as advances in technology, particularly ICT, have resulted in global interconnectedness and increased opportunities for self-actualization.
If harnessed correctly, technology and innovation, especially in agriculture, can offer opportunities for dealing with challenges in youth unemployment. A growing economy can also provide fertile ground for further innovation and risk-taking by governments and citizens.
Africa is currently pursuing a transformation agenda under the recognition of the African Union’s vision for “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” African leaders giving credence to this view have identified youth development as well as science, technology and innovation as the main pillars of Agenda 2063.
Being aware of shortcomings in the implementations of the diverse strategies on education, Dr. Beatrice Njenga said African Union HRST Commission will continue to promote research and publication on science and technology, facilitate cooperation among member states on education and training, encourage youth participation in the integration of the continent, and act as the Secretariat for the Scientific Council for Africa.
Most African Countries, including Ethiopia are expected to take part in this upcoming Innovating Education in Africa Expo 2019.