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Africa: US$300m for STEM skills development

A joint declaration in support of the African Education Fund was produced after a workshop organised in Abidjan in July. Photo: afdb.org

It will be a “unique” Africa-initiated, continental level education fund designed, led and managed by Africans

The African Education Fund will finance training in post-secondary education including Technical Vocational Education and Training, STEM and Science, Technology and Innovation skills.

“The African Education Fund is… no longer just a vision – it is a reality”

It will be a “unique” Africa-initiated, continental level education fund designed, led and managed by Africans, and will become operational in 2020 according to the fund’s coordinator Sydney Tetteh.

“The objective of the AEF is to primarily pool domestic resources mobilised together with Regional Member Countries and complemented by multilateral and bilateral contributors, the private sector and philanthropic foundations to finance projects that would contribute to human capital and skills development across Africa,” Tetteh told the PIE News.

According to the official, it will be financed through a mixed model of grants and concessional loans, with grants focused on technical assistance to countries.

The aim is to help increase domestic revenue generation to support education financing, education policy review and development in AEF focus areas, reforming curriculum, and in financing research and knowledge generation.

“Low-cost loans and some grants will focus significantly on infrastructure and equipment financing in identified key areas”, Tetteh disclosed.

Besides complimenting other education financing initiatives on the continent, the AEF, Tetteh added, is different in that it focuses exclusively on Africa, and mobilised African resources entrenching local ownership and accountability.

He said it responds to African rather than global educational priorities by earmarking funds for specific purposes to meet Africa’s needs, while insulating education and training from effects of “volatile and unpredictable” financing from external partners.

A joint declaration issued last month after an AEF workshop in Abidjan, Ivory Coast by representatives of government and regional economic blocs reinforced its support for the establishment of the fund, with Ivory Coast’s minister for Education Kandia K. Camara asking countries to be accountable and to take ownership of Africa’s education and training.

He encouraged AEF proponents to pay special attention to supporting the vulnerable including girls and people with disabilities in the structure of the fund.

“The African Education Fund is a vision many education stakeholders have had but could not put into practice, it is no longer just a vision – it is a reality,” Oley Dibba Wadda, the Bank’s director of Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development said at the event.

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