It is a well-known fact that Africa’s economic prospects are being constrained due to the shortage of digital and technical skills in many sectors across the continent, hence the need for youths in the region to be properly equipped with STEM and STI skills.
The possession of these skills will no doubt build their capacity which will be geared towards unlocking Africa’s future, as well as the achievement of a sustainable economy for the continent.
Given the complexity facing the developing world, economic growth, and improvement in the standard of living, there will continue to be great reliance on technological breakthroughs and innovations.
Unfortunately, STEM and STI skills in Africa is falling behind when compared to the rest of the world. The continent faces a big challenge of shortage of innovative solutions as only a low percentage of students graduate with STEM and STI-related degrees.
The African Development Bank (AFDB) reported that less than 25% of African higher education students pursue STEM-related career fields as a large percentage of students pursue social sciences and humanities courses.
With the world rapidly evolving into a digital age, the limited STEM and STI Skills in Africa have no doubt limited a large percentage of the workforce in accessing digital and high-quality jobs.
The implication of this is that without adequate investment in STEM and STI skills, Africa will be faced with difficulty in having to evolve with the rest of the world as well as failing to achieve the goals that the African Union (AU) has laid out for the continent in her 2063 agenda.
The AU’s agenda for 2063 aspires for inclusive growth and sustainable education programs that can ensure skills revolution, accentuating innovation, and Science and Technology in Africa.
This is why it is critical for education in Africa to reach new levels, particularly with skills that can promote more STEM and STI jobs thereby unlocking its future.
To achieve this, it is only ideal that governments in Africa see the large population of youths as a great advantage by investing heavily in STEM AND STI Education to enable them to compete with the rest of the world.
If this is properly and efficiently carried out, Africa will likely become one of the fastest developing economies in the world due to its large population size, which will no doubt bring about investments, innovations, and the reduction of unemployment amongst others.
It is however important for government agencies in African to know that STEM and STI Education is key to unlocking Africa’s future, which will harness the potentials of young people.
Despite the shortage of STEM education and STI skills in Africa, it is however interesting to note that governments of some African countries have already begun to introduce STEM AND STI education in their country, as well as some African agencies.
For example, the African Union Continental Education Strategy For Africa (CESA) aims to transform Africa’s education and training systems to generate sustainable knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation, and creativity suitable for Africa’s socioeconomic development.
Also, the African Union High-Level Panel on Emerging Technologies (APET) has encouraged member countries of the AU to sustainably develop and inclusively implement practical and localized STEM education.
Some African countries have taken huge steps by revitalizing and expanding access to quality education, harnessing the capacity of training systems, and harmonizing education management and integration by strengthening STEM and STI education in their school curricula. Some of these countries are Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, etc.
Using Rwanda as a case study, the East African country has significantly promoted STEM education across all levels of study. In 2019, Rwanda introduced the newly developed education curriculum referred to as the“New Competence-Based Curriculum”for pre-primary up to upper secondary education.
Also, the country's one-laptop per child (OLPC) flagship program has encouraged ICT-enabled primary school education. Today one can attest to the fact that there is so much development in Rwanda.
With a robust STEM and STI education infrastructure, students in Africa can easily carry out some experiments independently and improve their problem-solving skills as needed by the knowledge-based economy.
These skilled students can as well innovate technological equipment that can be used in the African region to develop a lot of things that will give the region a competitive advantage over other nations.
Enhanced STEM education and STI-related outputs can drive the economic performance for the African continent, as this has been observed in other continents such as Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
Over the next decade, job openings requiring STEM literacy have been predicted to increase. It has become apparent that STEM and STI skills is an important determinant of a country’s economic development and security.
Countries that have invested in STEM and STI education have no doubt experienced global prominence. For instance, studies estimate that between 50 to 85 percent of U.S GDP in the past 50 years can be attributed to advancements in STEM education, with many of its universities taking over the world rankings for their excellence in STEM degrees.
Therefore, in Africa STEM and STI skills is a very critical leg to creatively develop the solutions and innovations that is needed in the region.
Africa is blessed with so many skilled youths who need their talents to be harnessed through the right education (STEM & STI). When this is carried out effectively, there is no disputing the fact that the African continent will become an envy to other continents across the globe.