ICT in education is needed for African graduates to compete for jobs globally, forum hears

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From left to right: Mathias N’Goan Aka, Mayor of Cocody; Robert Beugré Mambé, Governor of Abidjan; Jerome Morrissey, CEO, GESCI; Oley Dibba-Wadda, Executive Secretary, ADEA; Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister, Minister of Economy, Finance and Budget, Côte d'Ivoire; Kandia Kamissoko Camara, Minister of National Education, Côte d’Ivoire; Bruno Nabagné Koné, Minister of Digital Economy and the Post and Spokesman of the Government, Côte d’Ivoire and John Galvin, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Group and General Manager of Intel Education, INTEL.

The use of ICT as an education tool is a key measure for equipping Africa’s students with skills they need to be competitive in the global market, a gathering of education experts meeting this week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, said.

Speaking at the 2nd African Ministerial Forum on ICT Integration in Education and Training on Wednesday, June 8, John Galvin, Vice-President and General Manager of Intel Education at Intel, said using ICT for learning gives children hands-on experience that develops their critical thinking, increasing their problem-solving capacity, while, at the same time allowing them to be innovative.

The June 7-9, 2016 event was convened by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), which is hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB). It sought to deliberate on practical ways through which ICT can effectively be integrated into Africa’s education system to produce graduates that are ready for the job market.

According to Intel, eight out of 10 jobs require technical skills or ICT training. “All these demand a different way of education. Instead of us teaching students theoretically, let us use ICT to give them the skillssets that will empower them to confront the job market,” said Galvin.

The AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa (JfYA) strategy was lauded for targeting ICT for education to groom young people for employment. “Through the newly launched program we want to assist member countries to advance ICT. We would like to connect ICT to education to ensure our students are marketable when they graduate,” said Etienne Porgo, Division Manager, Education, Science and Technology, within the Bank’s Human Development Department.

Launched at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Zambia in May 2016, the JfYA will see the Bank invest US $5 billion over the next ten years and generate 25 million new jobs. These investments are expected to create opportunities for 50 million young people through skills development, and job creation in agriculture, industry and ICT.

The Ministerial Forum heard that policies which ensure learning using ICT are critical, and they must hinge on ICT for development. These policies will ensure delivery of quality education. “For you to have quality, you need quality teachers trained on how to utilise ICT for education,” said David Atchoarena, UNESCO’s Director of Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems. Similarly, Oley Dibba-Wadda, ADEA’s Executive Secretary, underlined that ICT integration in the education sector was both a technical and policy issue that would guarantee continuous training to both the teacher and the learner.

Côte d’Ivoire highlighted how the establishment of the ICT in education policy has led to an increase in financial resource allocation to the education sector, especially e-education. “Teachers are being trained to align them with ICT systems. We are also have partnerships with ICT firms, to offer trainings,” said Bruno Nabagné Koné, the Minister of Digital Economy and Government spokesman.

The Abidjan Forum emphasized the need for partnerships and resources to promote education institutions in order to advance technology and innovation. The AfDB was lauded for its efforts to fund African institutions in technology and innovation, thus helping youth to become more skills-relevant. The Bank supported the creation of the Pan African University, which comprises five Pan African Institutes from East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa. The university is focusing mainly on science, technology and innovation.