Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister of Education, Science and Sports, on Monday called on African governments to make basic education a priority to ensure sustainable growth and to meet the development needs of the Continent.
He said the social and economic development in Africa depended mostly on the Continent's ability to mobilize, educate, and train the youth for the challenges of the 21st century.
This, he said, called for increased attention, greater efforts and a balanced approach to the development of education.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah was speaking at the opening of the three-day Third Regional Conference on Secondary Education in Africa (SEIA) in Accra.
The Conference which is being hosted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, is sponsored jointly by the World Bank's Africa Region Human Development Department, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa and the World Bank Institute.
It has brought together 30 African Ministers and their country teams, donor agencies and representatives from African civil society.
It aims at fostering better dialogue on secondary education and training in Africa among donor organizations, key stakeholders and African governments.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah said secondary education should be a leading concern and should focus more on serving society better.
"This will not be achieved by producing students, who have mostly memorized facts."
He said modern secondary school graduates needed to master good skills of problem identification, problem solving and teamwork, and the fundamentals of science, mathematics, languages, social skills and ICT.
The Minister said a secondary education graduate's profile should be different from just being academically prepared to go to the university, because that approach was still producing failures at the end of secondary cycles.
"Significant expansion of access to secondary education is therefore not a choice but an imperative. The only option is to risk breakdowns and inadequacies that will create social and political tensions and conflicts that will prove increasingly difficult to handle later."
Papa Owusu-Ankomah noted that to move in the direction of such major changes, African countries needed a serious review of a number of their policies, including that concerning financing and managing of secondary education.