Higher Education, Science and Technology Draw Attention
The African Development Bank Group last week unveiled its strategy on higher education, science and technology for the continent in Accra, Ghana, where it organized a workshop on higher education, science and technology in collaboration with the Association of African Universities (AAU).
The 2-day event, which brought together 60 participants from across the continent, updated participants on the Bank Group’s renewed and committed interest in strengthening higher education, science, technology, research and innovation in Africa. The event enabled the institution to solicit views from experts and stakeholders in the sector as well as identify and discuss synergies and complementarities with multilateral and bilateral donors.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Bank Group Vice-President, Zeinab El-Bakri, said the Bank strongly believed that higher education played a key role in nation building by being an important place for the popularization of democratic values, the protection of human rights, the promotion of good governance and the rule of law and by helping society understand its history, its culture and its institutions, adding that a robust science and technology (S&T) base was a prerequisite for sustained economic growth. There is growing acknowledgement that investing in higher education, science and technology and research has a significant positive impact on economic growth and poverty reduction, she pointed out.
Mrs. El-Bakri called on African countries "to take stock of the range of requisite technical and scientific skills that the respective levels of our education and training systems should be enabled to nurture and produce," saying that it was necessary to point out that the Bank would never lose sight of the common knowledge that relevant, quality basic education would always be the bedrock of higher education.
The Ghanaian Science and Education Minister, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, who chaired the opening ceremony, indicated that the continent needed to marshal its abundant natural resources into productive outputs by building its human capital base in order to champion scientific and technological research for economic growth, adding that universities and research institutions needed support in order to accomplish their mission of building the continent’s human resources.
"Building up of comprehensive and collaborative scientific and technological agenda and policies by African countries, with support of the private sector and development partners, is the way forward," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Mozambique’s Minister of Science and Technology, Venancio Massinge, said the continent needed to reward and improve the conditions of service of scientists on the continent so that they would stay in their respective countries and contribute in the revolution of science and technology, adding that "if appropriate policies were made the issue of brain drain could be resolved".
Mr. Massinge regretted that the continent was largely contributing to the training of scientists who were poached by developed nations. He indicated that this trend did not bode well for the continent. He hailed countries that were devoting a portion of their Gross Domestic Product and budgets for Science and Technology Education.
Higher education on the continent has, over the last two decades, suffered due to brain drain and budget cuts. Rebuilding higher education, science and technology capacity in Africa requires concerted efforts. The workshop therefore provided an opportunity for the Bank to establish partnerships with regional development institutions such as the AU, NEPAD, regional economic communities, UNECA, as well as with other key partners, including the World Bank, UNESCO, FAO, AFD, CIDA, DFID, and JICA.