The importance of education to economic growth and development

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Education and Training (SADC-PET) is at the centre of SADC’s core development efforts.

However, without the required human resources and adequate investment in human development, SADC-PET’s vision, mission, principles, objectives, and common agenda, cannot be attained.

No country in the world has ever developed or grown economically without strong human capital as its base. Furthermore, the evolution of theories of economic growth and development has shown that education is the mother of all developmental efforts.

In this vein, collective efforts of the four initiatives of education –Education For All, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG 2), the African Union Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa (AU Plan for Education), and SADC-PET– are all committed to improving education.

SADC’s 15 member-countries are currently implementing the four initiatives of education, but as harmonisation has not yet been achieved as expected, it is not possible to undertake an accurate systematic analysis of the protocol.

Instead, the current analysis is based on the Progress Report on the Implementation of RETIP (2013), among other sources. The progress report is not limited to information on the eight previously mentioned areas, but also contains essential information that contributed to the content of this chapter.

The timeframe of programmes that are precursors to SADC-PET must be carefully considered if it is to succeed. In particular, the implementation period of SADC-RIPET is 2007-2015, which coincides with the implementation period of the AU’s education programme in 2006-2015. Both of these initiatives must first be in place in order to ensure the success of SADC-PET, whose implementation period is 2000-2020.

Again, the purpose of this article is to present an analysis of the SADC-PET implementation experience with empirical evidence based on access, equity, quality, relevance, and efficiency to the extent that is possible. It begins with an overview of all SADC member-states in terms of information that is relevant.

SADC envisages a regional community with a common future that will ensure economic well-being, improved living standards and quality of life, freedom and social justice, as well as peace and security of its people. The above vision is the framework upon which the SADC Protocol on Education and Training hinges. The model is designed to promote a regionally integrated education system in terms of access, equity, relevance, and quality of education. The central aim is to harmonise, standardise and create equivalent education and training systems across the region by 2020.

SADC-PET contains 24 subsectors in education that need to be harmonised, standardised, and coordinated. Since it would be a difficult task to focus on all sectors at the same time, countries have decided to focus on priority areas to be implemented.

This focus is practical, because systematic analysis cannot be undertaken simultaneously on all 24 sectors, due to a variety of constraints. The above-mentioned sectors provide the foundation for the education system of any country, because they are systematically interconnected to pave the way for skills development and higher education, which is what is needed before further initiatives are implemented.

Countries within SADC have reported on their status, which was used as a source of information. These reports were supplemented by the UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS), to which many countries also report.

However, large data gaps exist in many countries, as some do not have functional Management Information Systems, or reporting and production of statistical reports are delayed.

At times, where data is available from data collection bodies within Education and Training, the population figures might be outdated or unavailable. This makes some of the indicators, such as Net Enrolment and Gross Enrolment ratios, difficult, if not impossible to calculate.

Higher Education data is generally unavailable due to a lack of harmonisation across Higher Education Management Information Systems. In other words, many countries do not have these. This is also due to the autonomy of institutions, such that where available, it is not concretely reported.

Dr. David Namwandi is a PhD holder in Business Administration from Asia e University, Malaysia. He is the Founder of IUM and former Minister of Education, Republic of Namibia.

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