A World Bank report released on 5th March 2018 stated that Africa faces a “severe learning crisis” that undermines economic growth and the wellbeing of its citizens. This is against a backdrop of a fast changing world. In the second half of the last century, globalization led to unprecedented changes in society. The velocity and volume of change has generated unprecedented opportunities and challenges for educational systems worldwide. Nowhere has this rapid change been felt more than on the African continent.
Additionally, the population in Africa is rapidly growing and projected to continue doing so for the rest of this next century. The continent’s share of the global population could rise from 17% at present to 40% by 2100. Of the additional 2.4 billion people projected to be added to the global population by 2050, 1.3 billion will be added in Africa. It is anticipated that over half of the global population growth between now and 2050 will take place in Africa. The population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double by 2050. Africa's population of potentially productive youth will be the highest in the world. Among the 20 greatest projected movers in population are: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Egypt, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. This robust growth in population presents great opportunities and challenges to African countries. On the one hand it could become the driver of positive socio-economic transformation; on the other it could become the source of instability. Much depends upon how this population bulge is educated and prepared for its emergence into the working world.
Knowing that Africa is set to have the largest work force in the world, it is imperative that much thought goes into preparing for this reality. Adequately and appropriately educating this growing labor force is becoming increasingly urgent if African countries are to consciously steer social evolution to maximize the benefits and minimize the disruption and trauma associated with it. Applying foresight in the development of human capital will enable African countries to harness the future. Simply multiplying the current models of education will not be sufficient; neither will updating course content on its own be enough. Approaches that are not carefully considered are likely to aggravate rather than alleviate many problems due to the gap between the education offered today and the changes that are so urgently needed. New paradigms must be found. The burgeoning youth population needs to be equipped for future innovations and challenges that cannot be fully anticipated now.