Ghana, Ethiopia disregard private sector in education development programmes

Ghana, Ethiopia disregard private sector in education development programmes

With research showing that countries that involve the private sector and civil society in education and human resource development programmes are doing better in addressing graduate unemployment, Ghana and Ethiopia have been identified as rarely engaging the private sector in this regard.

This was revealed in a report by the African Centre6 for Economic Transformation (ACET) titled ‘Strengthening Education and Learning Systems to Deliver a Fourth Industrial Revolution’. It focused on six African countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Ethiopia, Niger, Rwanda and Uganda.

According to the report, even with the low private sector engagements in these countries, employers are willing to be more involved as they see the benefits of having a more skilled graduate pool.

ACET indicated that to ensure graduates are well trained in industrial demand-driven skills and expertise, both private sector and civil society organisations must be brought on board to support government’s policies.

This, it stated, when efficiently done will produce the ultimate outcome expected – which is realization of the targeted education and employment goals ratified and adopted in the Sustainable Development Goals {SDGs}.

“The private sector is rarely engaged in developing education and training programmes, particularly in Ghana and Ethiopia. Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire have made some progress on public-private partnerships in education, with promising initiatives such as industrial attachments,” stated the report.

Recommending a strengthened interface between the public and private sectors in developing education and training programmes, emphasis was placed on the need to fully involve the private sector at all stages of education and training programmes; and to also incorporate civil society views and inputs.

“Develop strong, well-structured, and accountable public-private partnerships for mass industrial placements and transition-to-work schemes. Governments and the private sector should work together to develop schemes that provide work experience for students and graduates.”

In relation to unemployment issues, the report indicated that all six countries have high youth unemployment and underemployment rates caused by mismatches between acquired and required skills.

“Soft skills and technical skills are in high demand but often in short supply. Entry requirements in the informal sector are high, and public and private sector employers do not widely recognise informal skills. Graduates also have trouble starting their own business, as few have entrepreneurial skills.”

The report outlined some priorities for action, which included establishing and formalising a mechanism for recognising experiential and on-the-job training skills. The recognition of non-formal and informal learning is an important means for making the ‘lifelong learning for all’ theme a reality, and to reshape learning to better-match needs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Provide more entrepreneurship training: It is essential to expand the number of well-trained entrepreneurs that can operate in the informal sector and engage with the formal sector. Training should be provided in partnership with the private sector.

Urban-Rural Gap in Digitalised education

With regard to online education and equipping students with digital skills, the need to improve access to high-quality and relevant digital skills and infrastructure was emphasised.

Among the six countries examined, it was noted that few institutions have full access to digital tools, electricity, Internet connectivity and facilities to prepare learners for the future of work. There is a pervasive urban-rural gap, which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated.

Financial limitations, one-off budgets for equipment purchases, and a low capacity to operationalise plans have marred countries’ efforts to attain and maintain an adequate operational infrastructure.

In view of this, ACET has called for the development of comprehensive digital and innovation policies and strategies to improve digital literacy. Policies should ensure that digital requirements are integrated into education and training systems’ resource allocations and budgetary allowances.

It also iterated the need to direct more resources toward the training and recruitment of teachers with relevant digital skills, as well as ensure institutions have the appropriate equipment and technologies to prepare learners for the future of work.

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