Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance has called on African governments to increase funding investment in education to address learning poverty in the region.
He said, “spending must significantly rise above the recommended 4.1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product on education if we are to compete on the global scale.”
The Minister said this on Monday at the launch of the Regional Strategy on education for Central and Western Africa, supported by the World Bank.
The programme brought together 22 Ministers of Education and Finance in Central and Western Africa.
The strategy is to improve education outcomes in Central and Western Africa.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the continent must take bold actions to build the human capital needed for sustained socio-economic development.
Statistics from the United Nations reveal that half of Africa’s population is under the age of 25 and the continent will be home to about 25 percent of the entire world’s working-age population by 2050.
The Central and Western African sub-region has the highest growth in the population of young people.
Between 2000 and 2020, the under-25 population increased by 82 percent and 68 percent respectively; compared to 18 percent in Northern Africa.
The continent, the Minister said, must strive to “leave no one behind” to guarantee economic success to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal four on education.
He expressed concerns about the education systems in Western and Central Africa, which were affected by chronic underperformance with higher deficits in teachers, high rate of illiteracy among adults and school dropouts.
“We need to take bold and urgent action to reverse this trend by advancing reforms in education and delivering better access to quality education for all children in the region.”
He called on the leadership of the African continent to focus on helping the 30 million children to read by 2030; ensuring that 12.5 million more adolescent girls were in school by 2030; trained at least 3.7 million more young adults in foundational skills by 2025, and ensuring that at least one million more youth acquired digital skills by 2025.
That, he stated, would require strong leadership and more investments in impactful interventions, and a strong partnership between society and the Governments.
Mr Ousmane Diagana, World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa, described Ghana as an example of educational transformation in the area of free Senior High School and Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET).
“Ghana is a clear example of leadership by putting in place educational interventions to improve outcomes,” he said, adding that the meeting would explore exchanges among participants to respond to the educational needs on the continent.
Ms Yevgeniya Savchenko, Lead, World Bank Task Team, said the strategy focused on three targets- reduce learning poverty, empower girls through education and expand access to job-relevant TVET and higher education.