Oby Ezekwesili, ex-minister of education, has launched Human Capital Africa (HCA), an advocacy initiative aimed at tackling what she has described as the learning gap in schools on the continent.

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The former World Bank VP (African region) launched HCA on the sidelines of the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES27) themed ‘Securing our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now’.

Research has shown that nine out of 10 children in sub-Saharan Africa don’t achieve basic reading and numeracy skills at age 10 as against developed countries where it’s only one out of 10 children (World Bank).

Ezekwesili said HCA will work with stakeholders, mobilise policymakers to take actions that improve early learning outcomes for children, and drive the accountability needed to ensure the delivery of change at scale in the region.

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She said HCA will help policymakers in sub-Saharan Africa with the right will to gain access and understanding of globally proven interventions that can easily be adapted to address their country’s specific situation.

The ex-minister said the launch marks the beginning of pan-continental partnerships that seek to bridge the gap between evidence and action to improve learning outcomes for children under age 10 in sub-Saharan Africa.

HCA’s collaborative network, she said, will cut also across both public and private sector leadership and include both the civil society and the general public in projects that are poised to “move human capital”.

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“This year’s theme for the Nigerian Economic Summit resonates strongly with HCA’s vision to ensure all boys and girls in SSA have the necessary education and tools to live productive and meaningful lives,” Ezekwesili said.

“Africa’s growing youth population makes this intervention necessary if we are to reverse the downward learning trend and unlock the dividends that come when children can read for meaning and understand basic mathematics.

“We do not want the children of the poor to continue being left behind in failing public school systems and in turn growing into poverty in their adult life.”

Speaking at the event, Modupe Adefeso-Olateju, MD of HCA’s education partnership centre, said the project is a call to policymakers, donor organisations, civil society, and parents to secure their children’s future.

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“Africa will soon be home to more than 50% of the world’s youth. We owe them the opportunity to be productive members of the workforce, contributors to the global economy and society,” the HCA executive added.

“This will not happen if nine out of ten of them do not achieve basic literacy and numeracy”

Among those present at the launch are Joyce Banda, ex-president of Malawi who is also a chairperson on HCA’s advisory board; Jakaya Kikwete, ex-president of Tanzania; and Godwin Obaseki, the governor of Edo state.

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