The Importance of Education in Africa: A Look at Direct Aid’s Contributions – World
The late Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sumait once said, “Had I known before what I know now, I would have invested only in education.” He recognized the transformative power of education in shaping the future of Africa and the world. That is why he devoted much of his life to advancing education in Africa through Direct Aid.
Africa has placed higher education at the center of its ambitions, as outlined in Agenda 2063, the plan for Africa’s transformation. This plan, agreed upon by the 54 members of the African Union in 2013, sets out a 50-year vision to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny. The plan prioritizes investment in education, technology, science, and research as a key pillar of the African renaissance.
The vision for Africa in 2063 is that at least 70% of all high school graduates will go on to receive tertiary education, with 70% of those graduates specializing in science and technology. This ambitious goal is twice the current global average enrolment of 32% and more than eight times the current Sub-Saharan African average of 8%. By realizing this goal and ensuring universal secondary education across the continent, Africa’s enrolment rates would approximate those of the United Kingdom in 2013, which were at 60%.
Despite the tremendous growth in higher education in Africa in recent decades, challenges persist. A report by Harvard University in 2016 revealed that university enrollment rates in sub-Saharan Africa were among the lowest in the world, averaging only 5%. This is due to several factors, including rapid growth in undergraduate enrollment, a heightened awareness of the importance of higher education, and the emigration of many academic scholars in search of better opportunities abroad. This has resulted in a shortage of skilled educators and a decline in the quality of educational programs.
Direct Aid manages four leading universities in Africa. These universities are the University of SIMAD in Somalia, UMMA University in Kenya, SUMAIT University in Zanzibar, and Morogoro University in Tanzania. These universities have had a remarkable impact on their surrounding communities, producing graduates who have become ministers, ambassadors, parliament representatives, and specialists. With 94 academic programs and 25 colleges and specialized institutes, the total number of graduates stands at 25,783.
These universities offer much more than just traditional education. They are equipped with technical institutes, language centers, modern technologies, research and studies, and vocational training centers for men and women, all of which serve to empower the surrounding communities in various aspects of life. In recent years, SIMAD University in Somalia has been ranked first nationally for several consecutive years according to the Webometric Institution.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-SUMAIT’s legacy continues to grow, as Direct Aid plans to build a fifth university in the West of Africa in the State of Benin. This new institution will provide exceptional higher education opportunities in science and technology for residents of five neighboring African countries. The goal is to graduate skilled and professional human capital to meet the needs of the communities in Africa with an IT lens.
Direct Aid (DA) is an international humanitarian organization and member of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It was founded in Kuwait over 40 years ago with the vision of helping the most vulnerable in Africa on the short and long term. Through its many development projects and emergency response activities, Direct Aid thrives to ensure that aid is sustainable and tailored to needs of all members of society. It aspires not only to help others, but rather, empower them to generate their own income, become self-dependent, and rely on their full potential to attain a decent livelihood. It has carried out its activities in over 30 African countries, including Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, Malawi, and Yemen.