In February, a Roundtable Conference is held at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa. But why is this needed? This is the burning question we recently asked Dr. Lawalley Cole, Executive Director of the Coalition on Media and Education for Development Africa Forum (CAFOR). In a bold interview, Dr. Cole shared his candid thoughts on the current state of education in Africa and the establishment of CAFOR.
Dr. Cole, you've been very vocal about your concerns for Africa's youth. What's the root of the problem, and why was CAFOR established?
Lawalley Cole: The reality is that Africa's youth are facing a significant crisis. The current demographic transition is leading to a population surge, but many young people leave school without the necessary skills and education to succeed in the labor market. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is that the education system in Africa is failing our youth. That's why, in 2017, professionals from across the continent came together to establish CAFOR. Our goal is to tackle this critical issue head-on, inspired by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union's Agenda 2063.
Has this not been done before?
Lawalley Cole: No. Our approach is different as we embark on this new journey. CAFOR brings stakeholders from various fields, including education, communication, law, media, business, and development, to collaborate and network on this critical issue. Our focus is to ensure that Africa's youth receive a quality education that equips them with the right skills to succeed in the labor market. Our approach is to create a forum for exchanging practical issues, providing a platform for members, funding, and technical partners to work together to achieve this goal.
What is CAFOR's vision for Africa's youth?
Lawalley Cole: Our vision is to create a future where Africa's youth are equipped with the skills and education they need to succeed in the labor market. We aim to provide them with opportunities that allow them to contribute to the growth and development of their communities, their countries, and the continent as a whole. Our goal is to see a future where Africa's youth are not only employed but are also contributing positively to the continent's economic, social, and cultural development. It highlights the importance of quality education and jobs for Africa's youth. CAFOR is at the forefront of this effort, ensuring that Africa's youth receive the education and skills they need to succeed in the labor market. With our focus on collaboration, networking, and practical solutions, CAFOR is poised to impact the lives of Africa's youth significantly.
CAFOR is setting up a conference in February. What is the theme?
The Roundtable conference constitutes CAFOR's direct response to the African Union's invitation to all Member States, development partners, other international and regional organizations, the private sector, and civil society, including nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, the youth, and other relevant stakeholders to support the implementation of this Declaration. CAFOR notes with tremendous interest the African Union's underscoring and acknowledgment of the role of development partners, civil societies, youth, the private sector, and other critical actors in the strategic partnerships forged in the implementation of CESA 16-25, SDG 4 – Education 2030, Continental TVET Strategy and STISA 2024.
The Roundtable will contribute to setting up sustainable funding mechanisms to accelerate CAFOR's sustainable financing needs and increase CAFOR's impact on the performance of the policy and the legal framework for advancing education and development for young people in Africa.