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Story | Research
21 November 2019

Revolutionizing education in Africa: where should it start?


A WISE Summit roundtable brought together 25 participants from African countries

With 28 million out-of-school students and 158 million adults in Africa – a third of whom are women – being illiterate, 25 experts and leaders from African countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Zambia, South Africa and Nairobi have explored potential ways of addressing the challenges standing in the way of an educational renaissance in the continent – and how it can start?

Chaired by Zyad Limam, President and Managing Director of Afrique Magazine, the discussion – titled Africa at the Forefront of the Educational Revolution – at the WISE Summit 2019 saw a consensus among its participants that "Africa is not poor", but rich with “human wealth that we must invest in to achieve the sustainable development goals to which the world aspires”.

The panelists addressed the priorities that they said must steer any discussion related to education in Africa, agreeing on the importance of looking at education as a comprehensive process that starts with early education and continues through higher education and lifelong learning.

They also emphasized that this process requires good governance and leadership, as well as collaboration between the public and the private sectors, and re-investment in Africa’s educational ecosystem, while activating the roles of public and private education, training teachers, and providing them with the necessary digital tools that provide them with access to cognitive platforms.

At the core of the discussion on the importance of education in Africa, the panelists concluded that leaders of thought and education in Africa do not have the “luxury” of choosing between priorities that instead require a comprehensive response – whether by investing in primary education, achieving gender equality, or investing in higher education and deploying technology to achieve educational goals.

Opening the session, Limam said: “In this roundtable, we are talking about a program that includes many priorities – there are 2 billion out-of-school children in Africa, and after about 30 years, this number will reach 2.5 billion, which means that the educational ecosystem is not suitable”.

“How can Africa provide education to its children? Do we have to start with university or primary education, government or private education? And how can we do that in a region that has different languages and diverse ethnicities?”

Christos Stylianides, the European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “We must get rid of the colonial node and avoid thinking about domination. We must redirect investments to the public and private education sectors in Africa, for the benefit of all parties”.

Over its two days, the WISE Summit is hosting over 150 sessions. For more information about the sessions of WISE 2019 please visit:

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