Increase in University Education access can lead to increase in Africa’s GDP

One of the top headlines in most of the news media nowadays is about unemployment. This topic of unemployment has also taken a key space in most of the speeches across the country in public and private universities.

A new report by the World Bank on unemployment in Ghana has revealed that about 48 percent of Ghanaians between the ages of 15-24 do not have jobs. (source: http://pulse.com.gh/business/unemployment-in-ghana-48-of-ghanaian-youth-jobless-world-bank-report-id5026856.html)

The report, “The Landscape of Jobs in Ghana”, touched on ways of finding opportunities for youth inclusion in Ghana’s labour market. “In Ghana, youth are less likely than adults to be working: in 2012, about 52% of people aged 15-24 were employed (compared to about 90% for the 25-64 population), a third were in school, 14% were inactive and 4% were unemployed actively looking for job. Young women in the same age group are particularly disadvantaged and have much higher inactivity rates that men: 17% of young female are inactive as opposed to 11% of males,” the report said.

But the lead researcher and senior economist with the World Bank, Sarah Johansen said the youth in the country could only be empowered to get or create jobs, if their educational foundation is solid.

“Ghana has been able to increase access to education. Now the issue is how to go to the next level and ensure that there is quality education. Because the skills you have at the end of secondary education is not maybe such a big problem, if you don’t have the labour market relevant skills; that you need to be able to acquire it. For that you need to have basic skills- so the question is have you learned those in school? And I think this is the issue that Ghana needs to be looking at now”

Higher education yields significant benefits for both African young people and society, as a whole: better employment opportunities and job prospects, improved quality of life, and greater economic growth. As the world becomes more technological, the school curriculums in Africa need to evolve to provide the right education and training for jobs in today’s workforce. A severe mismatch still exists between the skills of young African workers and the skills that employers need for today’s global workforce.

It is this skill gap persisting in this country, which needs to be addressed and I must say that BlueCrest College is committed to graduate workforce who can take up those available jobs. This has been made possible with sheer dedication of our academic staff and a fine blend of professional and academic qualification in our curriculum. Yes, we do face resistance sometimes, from different sectors on the blend in our curriculum, but at BlueCrest College, we believe that someone must stand up and take the lead to solve this problem of unemployment.

We should dream to create a world  where higher education doesn’t end with a degree, but starts at entry and continues through life, as the world changes around us, like a biological ecosystem. As access to higher education is increasing  significantly in Africa due to combination of full power of technology and the Internet with the best teaching and learning approaches in the world, institutions should work towards to craft a student-centered educational ecosystem.

I would like to bring out some key points from a report published by Africa-America Institute on State of Education in Africa for 2015 (Full Report available on:  http://www.aaionline.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/AAI-SOE-report-2015-final.pdf).

    • Today, only 6 percent of young people in sub-Saharan Africa are enrolled in higher education institutions compared to the global average of 26 percent.
    • The promising news is that universities in many African countries are experiencing a surge in their enrollment. Between 2000 and 2010, higher education enrollment more than doubled, increasing from 2.3 million to 5.2 million.
    • In 2008, about 223,000 students from sub-Saharan Africa were enrolled in tertiary education outside of their home countries, representing 7.5 percent of the total global number of students who study outside of their home country.

 

  • As per UNESCO and World Bank, A one-year increase in average tertiary education levels would raise annual GDP growth in Africa by 0.39 percentage points, and eventually yield up to a 12 percent increase in GDP.

 

  • Globally, public education expenditure accounts for 4.7 percent of the world’s $18 trillion GDP per capita. The Africa region devotes 5.0 percent of total GDP of about $1.5 trillion to public education expenditure, which is the second highest percentage after North America with a total $32 trillion GDP per capita and Europe at 5 percent with a total $24 trillion GDP per capita.
  • African countries have allocated the largest share of government expenditure to education at 18.4 percent, followed by East Asia and the Pacific at 17.5 percent; and South and West Asia allocated only 12.6 percent.

Above statistics on mass student’s movement to foreign countries for higher education validate my point that Ghana needs to be developed as a recipient of this mass movement. We need Study in Ghana policy by the Government to promote Ghana as one of the favoured destination for higher education in Africa. Made in Ghana degrees are having more credibility and recognition in Africa and beyond.  If Mauritius can target for 100,000 foreign students enrolment by 2020, WHY NOT GHANA?

Today, youth in Africa are the architects of their development, not just beneficiaries. The new model for development is focusing on partnerships — with governments, businesses, universities and civil society. We must join hands with strong and credible international partners to invest in local research and have industry relevant course structure. As private university college we fully support the same and have already taken significant steps to catalyze the growth.

Amid political turmoil, recession and a severe cash crunch in the Greek economy, there were a lot of companies that tripled its revenue with a team of young entrepreneurs with an average age of 29.

For students it’s not the time to get dragged into this unemployment debate going around and use employable skills and knowledge gained at universities to become successful entrepreneurs.

Our experience has been that the entrepreneurial spirit can shine through despite economic or political failure. Beyond the sheer determination to create and progress, maintaining a global perspective has been the most important ingredient in one’s success. There is no stronger antidote to the over-emphasized unemployment debate engulfing this region and students have all the tools to succeed.