A Forum On Africa in Turkey (II)

Date posted: July 23, 2013

Hajiya Bilkisu

The third session of the Abant Platform dialogue was on Education in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.

There were presentations from the panellists from Burkina Faso Mali, Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone which was followed by an interactive session. In her presentation, Hajjah Hauwa Turay, the founder of Heikal Foundation School in Sierra Leone presented a rights based approach to education in Africa. She said education which is a basic right of citizens is a privilege in Sierra Leone. Hauwa Turay emphasized that education goes beyond learning to read and write and should provide critical tools and skills. Various speakers underscored the fact that investment in education is important because it empowers the people, ensures social mobility, reduces poverty, enhances agricultural productivity and protects the environment.

The report on the two sessions on Health in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities and Economic Development of Africa: Different Approaches to Sustainable Growth highlighted the economic potentials of Africa which is the largest and the second most populous continent in the world. It makes up 6 percent of the total surface area of the planet and 24.4 percent of the total land with its area of 32.2-million-square-kilometers. The continent, with 15 per cent of the world’s population (1billion people), has 54 independent states. African countries have displayed an economic growth over the last five years that is higher than the world average; this indicates that despite negative indicators, the continent appears able to deal with its misfortune. As economic welfare increases, the quality of human capital also improves.

The Report shows that this indicator announces the potential development of African countries. An example is in education where the number of college graduates in the Democratic Republic of Congo when it gained its independence was five; however today, 35,000 students are enrolled in Kinshasa University alone.

During the interactive session, participants commended Turkish civil society organizations like the Hizmet Movement that have established educational institutions in Africa. There are 16 Turkish schools, a big university founded by the Hizmet Movement and a full capacity hospital in Nigeria alone.

In designing a sustainable approach to development, participants emphasized that Africa cannot be regarded as poor considering the huge resources it has. However, inability to harness these resources for the development of the people has entrenched an unfortunate reign of poverty and suffering on the people. They further emphasized that African countries and peoples know their problems but the global community has a responsibility to lend support to efforts to deal with this poverty and support the African renaissance that such collective commitments will promote. The Forum acknowledged Africa as the continent of the future.

At the end of all these deliberations, the Forum issued a communiqué which should serve as a road map for all those who are genuinely interested in promoting the continent’s development. It states: ‘We, the participants of the 29th Abant Platform Forum on “Africa: Between Experience and Inspiration”, held at Abant/Turkey on 28-30 June 2013, hereby, welcome the initiative of Journalists and Writers Foundation/Abant Platform, to a long and lasting partnership, based on mutual respect, goodwill, compassion and understanding between the Peoples of Africa and the People of Turkey.

-We acknowledge the commitment by the Abant Platform to broaden the knowledge base on Africa and Turkey to promote the image and realities about the Peoples of Africa and Turkey through the media, scholarly and socio-cultural activities at all levels.

-The Forum recognizes the significance of the African values, customs, traditions in all its diversities in bringing solutions of current universal issues and believes in elaboration of these values in future forums to be utilised for the benefit of the Peoples of the World.

-The Forum identifies education as a key to solving the major problems in the world and not only in Africa. Therefore, it advocates equitable access by all to high quality, universal education. This should be achieved through collaboration with all governmental and non-governmental organizations in close coordination with the international organizations as well as the African Union (AU) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs).In this regard, the Forum has agreed that the coordination and collaboration between different educational institutions in Africa and Turkey should be intensified at all levels.

-The Forum recognises the diversity of health problems in different regions and countries of Africa and emphasized that the focus on prevailing public health issues, such as health education, preventive and curative medicine, access to health services by all, should be prioritized accordingly. In doing so, collaboration among all the international and national stakeholders should be intensified.

-The Forum urges the growing African economies to transform from consumption and raw material export alone into local production and processing raw material into end products to be utilized both internally and externally. In this regard, the exploitation of the vast energy potentials of the continent and the development of basic infrastructure are crucial to the attainment of this vision. In doing so, the African economies should benefit from the experiences of emerging economies like Turkey.

-The Forum identifies several sectors that require urgent attention in the next two decades, among which are the eradication of famine and mass poverty, epidemics, illiteracy, internal conflicts and corruption.

Among the key issues to promote, the Forum identifies the following: transparency, human rights, freedom of media, culture of peace, respect for diversity, gender equality, religious tolerance, public health care, environmental sensitivity, youth development, women’s and children’s welfare, industrialization and agricultural reforms.

The Forum underscores the fact that good governance as the sine qua non for the accomplishment of all the aforementioned objectives. The establishment of the criteria for good governance should be developed, endorsed and promoted under the auspices of the AU and the RECs with the support of the media.

The Forum, in this new spirit of cooperation and collaboration in full partnership between the Peoples of Africa and the People of Turkey, looks forward to striving together for a better future for all, working together at all levels to achieve the abovementioned goals, and agrees to meet in Addis Ababa in 2014.

After their deliberations, participants took time off for sightseeing to the many tourist attractions Turkey had to offer. I took time off to attend the graduation ceremony of a nephew in Gazimagusa in North Cyprus and to visit the Maulana Museum in the city of Konya where the renowned sufi master, Maulana Jalalludin Rumi lived, taught and preached. His museum continues to pull tourists from different countries and religions to Konya.

Source: DailyTrust , July 18, 2010

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