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PASET: a new partnership for quality education in Sub-Saharan Africa

A new partnership in support of education in Sub-Saharan Africa was established on 12 June among 12 African countries at a high-level Forum organised in Dakar jointly by the government of Senegal and the World Bank. The twelve African countries which took part at the event were Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia. The event was also attended by the higher education representatives from Brazil, China, India and Korea. The new partnership - Partnership for Skills in the Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) - is a response to a huge lack of highly skilled graduates in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and to low numbers of students enrolled in science, engineering and technology programmes at African universities (below 25%). At the Dakar event the PASET members signed a Call to Action, which outlines the objectives and activities of the partnership.

PASET members have agreed on the following:

  • to support countries build a skilled labour force by focusing on a wide range of skills
  • to target skills in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (ASET) for specific, priority sectors
  • to promote strategic partnerships between governments, business and partner countries to invest in skills in ASET
  • to strengthen mechanisms which promote regional institutional collaboration 
  • to strengthen ASET systems and institutions in Africa (e.g. by improving policies, standards, mechanisms for quality assurance and relevance, work on monitoring progress and focus on results)
  • to enable systematic sharing of knowledge and experiences among SSA countries as well as with partner countries for development and capacity building in ASET

The partners have also defined several medium-term goals to work on in the next ten years. Some of these are to train at least 10 000 PhD holders in ASET, to establish at least 5 additional universities in SSA with high quality ASET programmes, as well as to set up 5 regional TVET centres of excellence in order to share resources, assure quality and provide specialised training.

The outcomes of the Dakar Forum came as the fruit of two previous high level Forums on higher education in Africa – one in Kigali, Rwanda, which took place in March 2014, and a PASET conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2013. These two events brought together stakeholders from academia, business and government and helped to voice the needs of all involved players, thus setting the scene for more concrete steps at the Dakar Forum.