On May 20-22, approximately 300 policy makers, academics, and private sector representatives gathered in Kigali for the 5th PASET Forum – Destination Digital Africa: Preparing our Youth for the Future. The Forum focused on the implications of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) and the digital economy on higher education and skills development in Africa.
Hosted by the Government of Rwanda and the World Bank, the Forum, which is the largest knowledge exchange platform of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), was a rich exchange of ideas on preparing African youth with skills for the future. The Forum was inaugurated by the Right Honorable Prime Minister of Rwanda Dr. Edouard Ngirente, and included participation from Ministers of Education from 11 sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, the Bank’s Global Director of the Education Global Practice, Dr. Jaime Saavedra, and senior government officials from 21 African countries.
The Forum shed a spotlight on the urgent need for African countries to equip their youth population, expected to reach 525 million by 2050, with the right skills to succeed in an economy marked by disruptive technologies and radically transforming jobs. Speakers from the region as well as China, India, Korea, Singapore and the United States underscored the opportunities and risks of the 4IR for Africa, and identified intermediate and advanced skills requirements. These speakers shared global models and approaches for higher education and TVET ecosystems to adapt, including the use of innovative delivery mechanisms such as adaptive personalized learning and the digital marketplace, and revising curricula to include courses such as robotics, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cloud computing, and others.
In the Forum, participants also learned about the growth and progress of PASET and its initiatives, including the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), Regional TVET Initiative, and Regional Benchmarking of SSA Universities. They further had the opportunity to meet some of the key beneficiaries of these programs, including young RSIF scholars and representatives from African RSIF host universities and TVET institutions.
Prior to the Forum, African country delegations attended a half-day workshop on May 19 to discuss their preparedness for the 4IR and the digital economy, based on questionnaires completed prior to the Forum. Over the following two and a half days, countries actively worked on concrete action plans incorporating learnings from the event’s presentations and panel discussions. The action plans, presented on the final day of the Forum, focused on key areas for countries to address, including changes in course content, ICT connectivity and technology to transform higher education, and TVET systems.
In addition, several important events were held on the sidelines including:
- The PASET Governing Council Meeting with high-level discussions on PASET’s strategic direction.
- The PASET Consultative Advisory Group Meeting, where higher education and TVET experts provided technical advice on ongoing initiatives.
- A signing ceremony for four new Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between PASET, three Korean institutions and one Moroccan institution for collaboration on RSIF; and
- A partnership meeting between Chinese private sector and African higher education and TVET institutions.
The expansion in participation at this Forum demonstrated that countries and global partners not only recognize the urgency of advancing digital opportunities for Africa’s booming young population but also see PASET as an effective and flexible platform to engage and collaborate. As a follow-up to the Forum, a subset of countries will receive high-quality technical assistance to further develop their country action plans for digital skills.
Last Updated: Oct 22, 2019