Youth unemployment in Africa at 12.7% is below the world average, but if one considers under-employment due to insecure jobs and those who completely withdraw from the labor market, you get almost double this rate. Literacy and numeracy are not the answer to this problem. Yes, these skills are needed, but are they enough? No.
‘Life situations and employment’ demand far more than this, and skill development for children and adolescents in East Africa cannot wait until the end of compulsory schooling.
The purpose of education has been debated over millennia, from agrarian societies to the industrial and information ages, varying by culture and by class. Today, most nations see education as a way to equip children with knowledge and skills to survive and thrive in an ever-changing world.
While basic education systems have focused on cognitive skills, there are recent shifts toward broadening educational goals. This shift has placed Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda among the well over 100 countries worldwide introducing ‘breadth of skills’ to their education policies and curricula in the form of life skills or 21st century skills and values.
However, information on how young people in East Africa develop these skills as well as how education systems can integrate them coherently into teaching and learning is lacking.
Skills can range from competencies such as problem-solving through to more recently popularized concepts such as resilience. How do systems move from aspiration to implementation? And at what point do teachers start in the classroom with each skill?