By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU
Prof. Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health equity together with other experts have said that the South-South cooperation which is based on equality, solidarity and mutual respect can promote the exchange of knowledge and experience that will facilitate the development in lower- and Middle-Income Countries and help African Countries to retain its skilled professionals while at the same time combating the Brain drain Challenge.
They made the remarks on Friday, 24 September 2021 during the #AskProfBinagwaho webinar that focused on “South-South Cooperation in Education to strengthen Development.”
Among other participants at this interactive and attentive Conversation, were Prof. Allotey Pascale, Director of the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health, Malasia, Prof. Abdellatif Zerga, Director of Pan African University and Researcher, Dr. Keith Martin, Executive Director, Consortium of Universities of Global Health, USA, Prof. Anna Mia Ekstrom, a Professor at Karolinska Institute and South Central Hospital, Stockholm and Eugene Sangano, Chair of UGHE Alumni Council and Executive Director of Alliance for Health Communities.
The webinar was organized to honor the United Nations’ South-South cooperation that is celebrated annually on the 12th September.
Prof. Binagwaho revealed that the 2021 Theme for South-South Cooperation is aimed at raising a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future for the globe as its response to COVID 19.
So, Inspired by this theme, this month, the webinar conversation was on South-South Cooperation in education to strengthen development.
Prof. Binagwaho explained that “Because COVID 19 disrupted the education sector seriously, we focus on education even if we know that due to the pandemic the landscape of all development sectors has changed.”
She noted that as countries work towards achieving the sustainable development goals for the 2030 agenda, in all sectors the South-South Cooperation will be an important player among the sustainable development goals among them are two major goals: Partnership and quality education.
Education is the heart of all the sustainable development goals which is also highlighted in the 2063 Africa we want Agenda. Because it concerns gender, health, justice, etc…” She explains.
Prof. Binagwaho stressed that South-South Cooperation is a good way to work together for development.
She provided examples of successful partnerships that have been achieved so that more efforts can be made to do better.
“We have examples of successful South-South cooperation such as the one of capacity building of teachers, trainers and teachers in support of curriculum reform, a project that was initiated by UNESCO in 2013 around Africa, Latin America and the Arab region and so far 600 officials from those regions have benefited from this project.”
She also added the Africa context where countries like Kenya have been engaged in various South-South partnerships successfully through the development of Information and technology skills with India as well as the developing of business skills with Singapore.
“We have also other examples of South-South Cooperation for Capacity building in education like Algeria that has awarded over 31,000 University Scholarship to student from all over Africa, or Nigeria, in the Nursing sector, or Rwanda, my country, which provided Scholarship to African refugees and those out of School in Haiti during the first consequences of earthquake in 2012.
Another Successful cooperation is the enhancing teachers education in Africa Project funded by the Chinese Government with the aim of enhancing teaching and training in Sub-Saharan Africa via Information and Communication Technology and since its beginning in 2012 it has created hundred training workshops, trained 10,000 educators and has created 230 teaching materials, modules and policies to improve quality education and access to education.” Prof. Binagwaho said
“As we continue to deal with uncertainties of COVID 19, it shows us that more than ever we have to increase quality of education, access to education and this is an economic imperative because all our countries are invested so much in education. And it can be more synergetic if we are working together. We need to enforce the existing South-South Cooperation and create new opportunities for new models of partnership and also convince the decision makers to foster education opportunities, quality of education opportunities for students that can equip them with the knowledge to later, as professionals, allow them to support their countries efforts when dealing with the crisis.” She added.
Prof. Binagwaho ended her remarks stressing that “South-South Partnership should also help us to respond to the challenges of retaining qualified professionals and skilled people in the global south and fight this brain drain. In pushing forward this agenda to bridge the gap in education in Africa there is a clear need for more South-South Cooperation to create Synergy and accelerate our journey to achieve the sustainable development goals and this should be based on equality, solidarity and mutual respect.”
Speaking on the role of the African Union in improving education through South-South Cooperation, Prof. Abdellatif Zerga, Director of Pan African University and Researcher, explained that “‘African Union through its 2063 agenda clearly articulated the need for an education and skills revolution to promote science, technology, research, and innovation foster human resources capabilities and skills for Africa.”
Despite the effort of the African Union to implement the different strategies for education in 2020, Prof. Abdellatif said that Africa faced serious challenges with COVID 19 pandemic. He noted that Some African countries registered fewer deaths, 34 million African went into poverty in 2020, and Employment fell by 4 million in 2020 compared with 2019 with 3.6 million young people (ILO, 2021).
“Covid-19 impacts on education led to schools’ closure between 11 weeks in West Africa to more than 42 weeks in Eastern and Southern Africa which increased student drop rates” Prof. Abdellatif said.
However, from the other side, Dr. Keith Martin, Executive Director of Consortium of Universities of Global Health, USA, noted that the “Education in Africa is improving, but education outcomes are the poorest in the world due to a lack of teachers’ training, adequate pay, morale, good working conditions, low education financing, and insufficient mechanisms for North-South-South collaborations”.
“To improve education in Africa, South-South cooperation between academia, public & private sectors, aligning skills required by employers with academia & trade schools, and supporting public ministries such as education, health, infrastructure are required”. He said