Africa must continue to place people and their basic human rights at the center of Agenda 2063, said African Union Commission Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma during the 26th African Union Assembly. The ECLT Foundation’s Senior Policy and Officer, Nicholas McCoy, attended this session in February 2016, which focused on human rights, particularly women’s rights under Agenda 2063. Throughout the sessions, leaders from the AU made calls and commitments to put a priority on quality education, giving young adults the skills to succeed and working towards gender equality.
Dr. Zuma stressed that by investing in youth, we help them become agents of change. “They (youth) want to be educated and skilled, so that they can become the engine and the drivers of our renaissance and transformation”.
Education at the heart of development
During the session, heads of State adopted the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016-2025), a comprehensive framework for education and training in Africa, in line with objective 4 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This focus on quality education and skill development for children and youth encourages positive steps towards the elimination of child labour, which is one of the root causes.
Collaboration is at the heart of the AU’s plan to implement the CESA over the next decade, including a formal partnership with UNESCO. During the session, AU Member States also stressed the importance of working together with other public and private partners to develop plans and mobilise resources to meet education goals. The ECLT Foundation has seen directly how children and youth benefit from increased access to quality education for children and youth in tobacco-grown communities in our programmes in Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania. The foundation works to raise awareness about the importance of quality education and training through our work at the international level as well.
The CESA plan includes 12 strategic objectives, improving reach of educational programmes through ICTs, revitalizing the teaching profession to ensure quality instruction and harmonizing national regional-level systems.
Increasing Opportunities for Youth in Agriculture
Employing 65% of Africa’s labour force according to the World Bank, the agricultural sector has huge potential to create jobs, especially for skilled young people. Fostering sustainable growth in agriculture can help address many problems which are linked to child labour, like poverty and food security. This growth would lead to boosts in income and to generally improved living conditions.
Calls were made by representatives from AU Member States for technical assistance to equip young people with marketable skills working towards the 2063 Agenda goal to “promote sustainable development at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.”
In this area, the ECLT Foundation is in a strong position not only to continue the programmatic work already being carried out to provide vocational training for rural youth, and but also to share good practices on skill training and decent work opportunities from our programmes.
As another key area to highlight skills-focused education and decent work opportunities is through the ECLT Foundation’s efforts around the World Day against Child Labour, both in programme countries and at the international level. The 2016 World Day will focus on eliminating child labour in supply chains, which provides a strong platform for ECLT and partners to communicate messages about how important sustainable growth and education are to eliminate child labour and provide lasting solutions in the agricultural sector.
The ECLT Foundation continues to stay aware of developments at regional level to address the root causes of child labour. Activities and information from the African Union can provide a helpful perspective in order to influence policy across countries, as well as to support national-level collaboration needed to address issues of poverty, lack of access to quality education, gender inequality and skills gaps for rural youth in many of the tobacco-growing communities of Africa where we work.