Impact of Rural Education on Africa’s Knowledge Economy

Developing the education sector is a direct investment in the knowledge economy of any nation. If a nation has a high literate population figure, it stands a better chance of having innovations, skilled labour supply and advancement in technical know-how. All of these are major strengths for a third world country in Africa.

Knowledge-Economy has been understood to mean an economic system in which the production of goods and services is based principally on knowledge-intensive activities that contribute to a rapid pace of advancement in technical and scientific innovation as well as accelerated obsolescence.

The key element of value is the greater dependence on human capital and intellectual property for the source of the innovative ideas, information and practices. A knowledge economy stands in contrast to an agrarian economy, in which the primary economic activity is subsistence farming for which the main requirement is manual labour or an industrialized economy that features mass production in which most of the works are relatively unskilled.

A government that invests in developing its rural education system will be directly improving its knowledge economy which will, in turn, lead to its overall economic growth.

Strengthening Africa’s knowledge economy depends largely on improving literacy ratios especially in its rural population.
Evaluating the implementation of the different literacy programs across Africa and worldwide has found that program effectiveness indicators tie in with several internal and external factors.

One of the major aspects for consideration is the vision for literacy itself, which needs to be more inclusive of and responsive to other areas of life to improve the guarantee of adjustment to globalization, rapid change and new challenges. From this angle, then, literacy could be viewed as needing to mainstream all the goals of the sustainable development agenda for 2030.

Learning needs to interactively cater for ideological, political, economic and social aspects and exclude all forms of discrimination based on race, creed, gender, age and geographical area.

Such measures call for teamwork among the different stakeholders in the shape of African governments, institutions working on literacy, civil society, the private sector, local communities, businesses, and technical and financial partners.

The new vision for literacy should mainstream “lifelong learning” with a particular emphasis on the key role that education in general plays in sowing the seeds for the acquisition of life skills and qualitative societal change in terms of social justice, living together in peace, and economic growth.

Which factors can help improve knowledge Economies?

A number of technical and political factors and strategies can be identified, including:

  • Reform the curricula. The new curricula should be rooted more in African culture and values, and social unity (ruling out any outbreaks of violence and terrorism) while onboarding technological change; these curricula should be developed taking a bottom-up approach based on the needs, realities and aspirations of the African countries and their communities.
  • Quality and Accessible higher Education: policies must be formulated to encourage tertiary enrollment for upskilling of secondary education. This will guarantee greater economic value from the population.
  • Use technologies: as ways to rapidly adjust to new challenges in life.
  • Systematic post-literacy learning: so that reading and writing are seen as part of an ongoing process and an effective way to prevent relapse into illiteracy. Development of a literate environment calls for effective implementation of a good book policy and the promotion of national languages.
  • Language: is clearly a key factor in improving the quality of learning. People learn better and faster in their language of fluency. Language is also recognized as a factor for national social cohesion, and regional and continental integration.
  • Gender mainstreaming and positive discrimination strategies: in support of women and other specific underprivileged groups, especially in rural areas, in the different literacy programs.
  • Power up the public-private partnership with the promotion of new methods and successful private initiatives.
  • Innovation Systems: whichopens new ways and methodsto encourage the promotion of knowledge in easy and acceptable methods for large populations.

The social and economic dimensions of providing education for the population, within the context of prevailing national circumstances of dwindling financial and other resources in the face of developments needs is heavy and investments in health, education and water supply have been focused largely on the cities. Despite phenomenal growth of the formal educational systems and the interest shown to non-formal education in the past decades, some members of the population are still found to be non-literate in Nigeria and across Africa.

A lot more work must be done!

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