|Essays on Food, Hunger, Nutrition, Primary Health Care and Development (AVIVA, 480 p.)|
|27. On Behalf of the African Child: Challenges and Windows of Opportunity for the Donor Community.*|
Emphasis on education/Literacy/Gains and needs in manpower training in health and nutrition;
5. THE RIGHT TO KNOW
Twenty one of the 31 country papers reviewed (Ghana and Morocco prominently so) put special emphasis on the need of expanding literacy campaigns and primary school enrolment - incorporating health and nutrition components into the respective curricula - as an important tool in the achievement of minimum development goals. Twenty six countries (Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Tanzania prominently so) recognized their urgent needs in the area of manpower (training in health and nutrition and planned for expansion of their existing training capabilities.
The last two decades have witnessed a veritable educational revolution in Africa. Efforts centered mostly, but not only, around the goal of attaining universal primary education (enrolments have soared) and around boosting adult literacy. Attempts were made to be gender-neutral in this approach, but success in this was and has been limited. The present and future payoffs of what has been achieved are immense, but there are still significant quantitative and qualitative gaps to be filled in the coming Decade. Resources invested in this continentwide quantum leap have mostly been the countries own, and that shows a formidable commitment not to be underestimated. On the other hand, by now, families have internalized the value of education (not necessarily gender-neutrally) and this fact closes the educational supply-demand loop that has to be looked at as a powerful window of opportunity for donors to offer a helping hand.
The other challenge cum window of opportunity here pertains to the growing need and demand for quality technical education and the on-the-job training of manpower, specifically in health and nutrition in the case we are considering, both in the government and non-government sectors. This training is not a one-shot deal (nor is it cheap); it requires periodic, decentralized updating. A fair amount of it is going on right now and, so far, this training has significantly depended (and will continue to in the future) on donor technical and financial inputs. Mind that a sizeable core of African nationals do have the needed skills to be in charge of this training. When this is the case, donors have to let go of top-down approaches in this area. Africa has come of age and needs partnerships; not preconceived packages; in exchange, it is willing to offer professionalism and accountability.
Degree training in the North has repeatedly proven to be inadequate for Africans being basically ill-suited for the African context. During the coming Decade, national, or better, regional African institutions have to be strengthened to take over this training task. Here is a call to donors for entering institution-building partnerships and for providing scholarship funds.