Minister NyaLonje challenges SADC countries to invest in youthful population to propel socioeconomic transformation

Malawi’s Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Agnes NyaLonjee, has challenged Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to take advantage of its demographic dividend arising from its dynamic youthful population to propel socioeconomic transformation of the region.

The minister made the remarks on Friday during the SADC Ministers of Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation (ET-STI). Apparently, NyaLonje is the Chairperson of the SADC Ministers of Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation.

Mininster NyaLonje addressing delegates to the SADC Meeting of Ministers of Education, Training, Science and Technology and Innovation

NyaLonje observed that SADC member states have the opportunity to help their young population become dynamos for growth and development if they provide them with meaningful and inclusively accessible quality education, including quality digitalized education, through well-trained teachers armed with good curricula, good teaching and learning materials, and good infrastructure.

“As the populations of the global north are aging, Africa stands poised to be the world’s go-to place for the human capital not just for our own economies but for world economies – but only if we educate all our children,” she said.

SADC Ministers of Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation (ET-STI) pose for a photo

The minister stated that the technical discussions at the SADC ministers’ meeting had demonstrate that member states are aware of what is needed to deliver a strong education and training, and strong science technology and innovation system and infrastructure and the countries have the skills within SADC and across Africa to develop and drive an agenda to deliver on our long held objectives.

However, what the region lacks are large scale resources to implement, she said.

“The main challenge we have is how to best organize ourselves and partner with each other to develop common messaging that can generate large scale investment in education, training, science, technology and innovation.

“As we discuss the outputs and recommendations of the technical working groups that are striving to meet our goals and aspirations I would like to place several thoughts and perspectives in front of us that are increasingly being taken forward in some of our SADC countries and may help in our drive to convert our ideals, work and dreams into reality,” said NyaLonje, adding that education is a driver of socio-economic resilience, including resilience to crises such as pandemics and climate change.

In her remarks, SADC Deputy Executive Secretary, Dr. Thembinkosi Mhlongo, said absence of coherent articulation arrangements and pathways within the education system in the SADC Member States are some of the challenges the sector is facing.

Mhlongo noted, for instance, that currently in SADC, t TVET programmes are not designed with a view to progression to higher levels of education and this means that TVET graduates have limited opportunities to progress to earning academic degrees given that their TVET training also does not allow for Recognition of Prior Learning.

“TVET has a huge potential in developing skills that will contribute to SADC’s industrialisation agenda. I urge Member States and all stakeholders to promote and support TVET programmes in order to realise the ambition of developing skills for industrialisation in the SADC region.  This is an important issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.

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