Secondary Education in Africa: Preparing Youth for the Future of Work

Secondary Education in Africa: Preparing Youth for the Future of Work

Significant challenges remain in access, quality, and relevance of secondary education in Africa. Given the transformative potential of the growing youth population, the shifts in African labour markets, and the evolving technology and its impact on nature of work—fundamental changes in secondary education are needed to equip young people to be successful in work and in life.

Collaborative Research

Mastercard Foundation, together with a group of strategic partners, has initiated a research project to examine progress in secondary education on the continent and to propose forward-looking recommendations. The report, entitled Secondary Education in Africa: Preparing Youth for the Future of Work, is expected to be released in 2019.

The research focuses on the role of secondary education in preparing African youth for the future of work, with emphasis on ensuring youth acquire the skills, knowledge, and competencies necessary to succeed in a dynamic and globalized labour market.

It will also, present a review of current knowledge and evidence on the state of secondary education in Sub-Saharan Africa, and will put forward practical recommendations for policy makers and other stakeholders.

Rethinking and reforming secondary education, including what young people learn and how they learn it, is necessary to make education relevant for youth employment or entrepreneurship in a dynamic and globalized labour market.

The research is informed by the needs and experiences expressed by government officials, employers, and youth. Emphasis has been put on identifying successful policies and areas of significant progress, with case studies from across the continent.

The report addresses four main themes:

Preparing Youth for the Future of Work

  • What does the future of work look like in Africa?
  • What is the role of secondary education in preparing youth to take advantage of these opportunities?

Ensuring Relevant Knowledge and Skills

  • What skills and competencies do young people in Africa need to prepare for the workforce of the future?
  • What works in helping youth acquire these skills?

Designing Systems to Foster Improved Learning

  • How can secondary education be structured to ensure young people achieve the skills and competencies they need?

Meeting the needs of Out-of-Schools Youth and Displaced Populations

  • How can governments ensure access to quality, relevant secondary education or its equivalent for out-of-school youth and displaced populations?

The Changing Nature of Work in Africa

Some key facts about the changing nature of work in Africa.

  • Over the next 12 years, the number of young people in the African labour market will increase to 375 million.
  • By 2035, there will be more young people entering Africa’s workforce each year than in the rest of the globe combined.
  • With expanding access to secondary education and a small fraction of students in Africa that complete university level studies, secondary school will increasingly become the main bridge to work for most youth.
  • Impacts of technology make the future of work unpredictable; success in this uncertainty requires quality education that equips youth with foundational knowledge and flexible 21st century skills.
  • Access to education and productive employment, particularly for girls and young women, will position Sub-Saharan Africa to reap the benefits of the demographic dividend.