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31.12.2007 General News

African countries join forces to meet challenges


Eleven African countries have agreed to join forces to meet the challenge of education for rural people.

At a recent meeting in FAO headquarters in Rome, they also decided to identify synergies and establish international technical cooperation aimed at enhancing education and training in rural areas.

Representatives from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Uganda, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania adopted a series of recommendations directed to four main stakeholders: African governments, relevant ministries, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international higher learning and research institutions to achieve the goal.

This was contained in a statement in Accra from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and copied to the Ghana News Agency.

The statement said Governments were invited to strengthen the coordination and synergies with education for rural people and promote strategies and programs to increase public resources for education and training in rural areas.

"Relevant ministries (Education, Agriculture, Rural Development) were asked to work together to design programs that reflect local cultural and social values that transmit problem-solving, production and enterprise development skills.

"They were also asked to collect and analyse relevant statistics and establish education management information systems in order to improve monitoring and management of education in rural areas," the statement added.

It said multilateral and bilateral agencies, particularly the FAO, Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and UNESCO, were requested to increase their support for capacity building and institutional strengthening of education for rural people.

They were also tasked to make special efforts to disseminate and further expand the FAO electronic "Toolkit".

The statement said International higher learning and research institutions were invited to provide scientific expertise, technical assistance and training in strategic areas of education for rural people at national and local levels, particularly with respect to addressing major research issues such as the impact of globalisation, biofuels and climate change on rural livelihoods.

The meeting on Education for Rural People in Africa held in Rome from November 28 to 29 was a follow up to the ministerial seminar, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 2005.

Presently, rural people represent approximately 70 percent of the total population in Africa and will remain the majority over the next three decades, as it is projected that they will represent 58 percent in 2030.

Education and training for rural people is a strategic priority for sub-Saharan Africa in its fight to eradicate poverty, hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy.

School life expectancy for men in this region of the world is of 8.5 years in urban areas as compared to 5.5 years in rural areas. For women it is 7.6 and 4.3 years respectively.

In addition, for every 100 urban children who have access to primary education, only 68 do so in rural areas. And for every 100 children in urban areas who complete primary school, only 46 do so in rural areas.