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Africa, the youngest and fastest growing continent

“Shifting Perspectives, unlocking Africa’s youth potential” is the theme of the meeting organized by Save the Children Italy.

By Jessica Jeyamaridas

On May 30 and 31, the Rome Aquarium hosts the “Impossible 2024” event, promoted by Save the Children Italy. This initiative represents an important opportunity for discussion among young people, institutions, and representatives of the world of culture, business, and charitable and volunteer organizations. The goal is to address the challenges related to the rights of children and adolescents, both in Italy and globally.

On May 31, the event is dedicated to international cooperation, with a specific focus on Africa. This topic is particularly relevant in light of the upcoming G7 meeting set to take place in Italy in June. The dialogue will involve various stakeholders to explore how best to support young Africans develop their potential and understand their needs and aspirations.

Despite the fact that Africa has the second highest economic growth rate after Asia, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest global rates of educational exclusion and learning poverty.

Participating in the event organized by Save The Children, is Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Civic Education, Chernor Bah, who gave an interview to Vatican News.

Talking about the biggest challenges African young generations are facing today he said, “Young people in our continent do not have access to quality education that is needed in the twenty-first century and the skills that will support us to compete fairly and justly. I think that’s one big challenge. The second one is the lack of economic opportunity and the third one is civic consciousness”.

Listen to the full interview with Minister Chernor Bah

A continent of lights and shadows

Cooperation based on African ownership and co-development, strengthening education, empowerment and access to credit for the younger generation, should be central to the G7 agenda. Save the Children, estimates that by 2050 the continent will account for more than 25 per cent of the global population with an average age under 25. Therefore, it needs a great investment of confidence in the new generations.

“Africa faces one of the greatest opportunities and challenges of the 21st century, harnessing the potential of its millions of young people to drive its growth and development. However, to do so it requires an investment in quality education” says Daniela Fatarella, Director General of Save the Children Italy.

African children at school

African children at school

Education first

Save the Children’s goal is to promote access to quality learning, well-being and socioeconomic empowerment for African adolescents and youth.

Recent studies have shown that sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest rates of educational exclusion and learning poverty. It is estimated that one-fifth of children between the ages of 6 and 11 and one-third of young people between the ages of 12 and 14 do not attend school and that 9 out of 10 children are unable to read and understand a simple text.

Minister Bah, highlights the fact that it is necessary to start with education because it is the indispensable foundation on which to build the future of children and communities: “Without our young people’s contribution our continent essentially has no future, they are the ‘engine’ for the continent’s growth”.

How does Sierra Leone offer ‘quality education’ for children?

“We’ve spent twenty-two per cent of our national projects on education. We have increased school enrolment for the past five years by over sixty-nine per cent, we brought one point five million children more to our schooling. We have tripled the percentage of females within our school system in just six years”.

Pope Francis with some  young African migrants

Pope Francis with some young African migrants

Pope Francis’ Global Compact on Education

Regarding Pope Francis’ Global Compact on Education, the Minister of Sierra Leone refers to it as the ‘most compelling moral of our time’.

“The idea is that education should be about the holistic development of a person. It shouldn’t be discriminatory, we should prioritize women and growth and we should ensure that education is a ‘value’. To have somebody like His Holiness make that call, I think it’s fantastic and very needed. I consider it one of the most important calls of this generation. I look forward to engaging with the institutions that are driving this Compact forward because, as I said, there’s incredible alignment on our side and our values as well,” he concludes.

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