To export digital skills to Europe and the US, Africa must learn from China’s 99/10 score and spend on basic education
Many questions about my piece on Africa’s development path and industrialization. Please note that investing more money in universities is not the absolute solution to deepen the digital competitiveness of young people. Forgive me, and restrain verbal shots; I’m not saying African governments shouldn’t invest in universities after attending a largely free one in Africa. Here is my postulation:
China has 99% enrollment in primary education with less than 10% university education. They invest the best of the money in basic education (primary and secondary levels), making sure it’s really great. For college, they don’t really care. They topped the world when they released highly prepared young people from the production lines upon admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In the United States, they do the same, making basic education free up to the secondary level. If you want to attend a university, pay for it or take out a loan, in a situation where you cannot obtain the limited scholarships available.
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In Africa, we are reversing that. While Nigerian university teachers are on strike demanding more money (they deserve it), no one remembers primary and secondary school teachers. If Nigeria pays a music teacher $1,000* a month, a mathematician can earn $50 in a public primary school. Due to the derisory salary, public basic education has struggled or collapsed as with the cases in Sokoto and Zamfara states where public students have not sat in WAEC for two years.
The poor quality of public schools has created a vicious circle where extremely ill-prepared children are “graduating” and integrated into the university system. In the last JAMB exam, the threshold to enter universities was lowered to 140. The implication is that you only need a score of 35% to enter the Nigerian university system. Does that make sense? Not really!
For the postulate I have put forward to work, Africa needs to invest in its primary and secondary education, not just universities. This implies that we need to revamp our curriculum and have more practice with the elevation of technical colleges where young people could be exposed to practical elements of learning.
Yes, we should not just think about improving universities without understanding that excellent primary and secondary education remains the catalyst for deepening national competitiveness through talent. Indeed, to export digital skills to Europe and the United States, Africa must deepen basic education as it is the fundamental pipeline to acquire the essential knowledge to thrive in a modern world.
*which is close using the official rate
How Africa will grow: Factory jobs outsourced Europe/US to China; Africa will export them digital skills
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