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COP21: Africa requires curricula review, green economy to tackle unemployment

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African governments have been urged to review their education curricula to have relevant skills and human capital development for green growth and climate adaptation and green jobs on the continent.

Speakers during a discussion on the 10th day of the UN climate change conference (COP21) in Paris, France, observed that most education systems in Africa are rigid and must be reviewed for the continent to move towards a low carbon development and create vibrant green economies.

Anthony Nyong, Manager of the Compliance and Safeguards Division at the African Development Bank (AfDB), noted that green growth is the pathway Africa must take. “We need to adopt green economy if we are to create more jobs for our youth. This calls for inclusive and innovative ways to develop the necessary skills we need,” Nyong said.

Guy Ryder, Director-General of International Labour Organization (ILO), noted that solving climate and employment crises are global challenges that must be addressed to combat climate change.

“Today, 200 million people, with majority of them being youths, are unemployed. In order to create 600 million jobs by 2030 to reach 100% employment for all, we should handle climate change well, as it has potential to achieve this,” Ryder said.

He called for Africa’s preparedness to tackle the challenge. “Most African countries are not well equipped for green jobs, but have the comparative advantage. We need to restructure our education systems which focus on primary education much to the expense of higher learning,’’ he said.

“Vocational and technical trainings should be promoted. We must carry out skill upgrades to create new jobs as we focus on relevant higher levels of qualifications,” he added.

Winnie Lichuma, the Chair of Kenya’s National Gender and Equality Commission, called for an inclusive approach in tackling climate change challenges.

“We need to bring on board all those affected – men, women, youth and persons living with difficulties – and appreciate their different roles, so that we come up with a common front to deal with climate change. Any other approach will fail,” Lichuma said.

Goodness Morategi, a 20-year-old South African university student, called for innovative ways to involve youth in climate change management.

“African governments should involve youths in all policy engagements so that they know from the onset the issues they are facing. Now, governments make policy and expect youth to adhere to them as passive recipients. This is wrong,” Morategi said.

Noting that social media is loved by the youth, she urged decision-makers to arm the youth with right technological tools and skills to make them appreciate climate change.

“Education on our continent is rigid. Climate change is communicated in a hard science language. We should be more fluid to change our education system and align it to the current needs of the human race. This will help us create a green economy,” Morategi said.

Bukar Hassan, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of the Environment in Nigeria, echoed her sentiments, pointing out that the youth are the implementers of the agreement that will be reached in Paris.

“For governments to reach a zero carbon environment, governments must be flexible to align education to emerging labour markets. This can be achieved by governments, the private sector and the youth working together,” Hassan said.

Senegal’s Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Abdoulaye Balde, called on African governments to create green employment strategies and institutions to implement them.

“In Senegal, we already have this and next week we are launching a green growth blue-print which aims at creating 4,000 green jobs directly and 6,000 jobs indirectly,” Balde said.

The lack of adequate skills and human capital remains one of the key obstacles for many African countries to adapt to climate change and to achieve their full potential for green growth, decent work and green job creation and eradication of poverty.

Building the right skills will enable African countries to create new jobs in a range of economic sectors, to attract investments and to create sustainable, decent and green jobs for a growing labour force. It will help increase productivity of the workforce and make African economies more competitive. 

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