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G8 – Education commitments to Africa in supporting meaningful cooperation

Eight of the most industrialised countries in the world met at Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland from 6-8 July to focus on climate change and the challenges of Africa.  This article provides a summary of the G8 education related commitments to Africa as well as provides conclusions drawn from an expert in education cooperation with Africa.

Education dimensions of G8 commitments to Africa:
The education dimension of the challenges Africa faces are of global concern in that 40 Million children are out of school in sub-Saharan Africa, some 700.000 professionals leave Africa each year and countless others face economic barriers to education.  What decisions were made to address these issues at the G8 summit?

Africa’s leaders have embraced a new vision for the continent’s future which recognises their leading role in addressing the continent’s challenges and realising its opportunities.  Related to this, the Gleneagles G8 joint statement finds that:

  • “Better governance, stability and peace are necessary for the private sector to grow and create jobs; a growing private sector creates more revenue for investment in health and education, which in turn is beneficial for society.
  • The core aims for education and health are stated in the UN Millennium Declaration.  We support our African partners’ commitment to ensure that by 2015 all children have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality, and have access to basic health care (free wherever countries choose to provide this)…”
Working to achieve these aims the G8 will:
  • [continue] our support for the Fast Track Initiative (FTI) and our efforts to help FTI-endorsed countries to develop sustainable capacity and identify the resources necessary to pursue their sustainable educational strategies.  Our aim is that every FTI-elected country will develop the capacity and have the resources necessary to implement their sustainable education strategies.”
  • Support “networks of excellence between African’s and other countries’ institutions of higher education and centres of excellence in science and technology institutions…
  • “Support youth employment for both men and women, including vocational education and training relevant to market demands.”
The commitments of the G8 and other donors will lead to an increase in official development assistance to Africa of 25 billion USD a year by 2010, more than doubling aid to Africa compared to 2004.

A perspective on education cooperation with
Ulf Lie, senior advisor in the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education has a special focus on Africa.  He and his colleagues are authors to the EU “Proposal for a European programme for co-operation in higher education and research with Africa south of the Sahara”, later called Proximus and presented in July 2004.  Lie finds that strengthening of partnerships between higher education institutions could be a solution that would benefit higher education in both the North and the South.

Related to this proposal, Lie recommends that the goal of our effort should be
  • “To strengthen higher education and research both in Africa and in Europe through reciprocal academic cooperation and institution building.
  • To help realise the ambition formulated by the European Ministers of Education in Stockholm in 2001, that in 2010 Europe will be open to cooperation for mutual benefit with all other regions, and the most-favoured destination of students and researchers from other regions of the world.  This ambition, however, must be supplemented by the willingness to develop and share, not drain resources.”

He and others believe that Bologna is pointing Europe in this direction by removing barriers to mobility, cooperation, and trust.  According to Lie, “the aim of all cooperation is the achievement of greater strength through the pooling of resources” and that North-South cooperation first requires taking each other seriously via meaningful long-term commitments.  This article is based on a publication: ACA Papers "Opening up to the Wider World: The External Dimensions of the Bologna Procss"

G8 Gleneagles 2005 Summit Documents – Africa
Africa – Some key facts from the G8
Ulf Lie in the ACA Paper – "Opening up to the Wider World"
G8 Gleneagles 2005 website