Reinventing Africa's Educational Systems: New Frontiers in Structure and Delivery

With one of the youngest populations in the world, Africa’s young people are integral to the continent’s development. Investment in education and skills training is integral to building a workforce that can propel Africa forward. Through solution-driven conversations with key stakeholders from Africa’s education sector, this panel will examine the progress of primary, secondary, tertiary, technical, and vocational education across the continent. It will further explore how educators can develop curricula and produce research that is applicable and pertinent to the continent’s needs. Moreover, it will discuss how African countries can adopt and scale elements of successful homegrown educational models to translate the demographic dividend to increased productivity.



chair: thandika mkandawire

Professor Thandika Mkandawire is Professor of African Development in International Development at the London School of Economics (LSE). Prof. Mkandawire was formerly Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Development Research in Copenhagen and has taught at the Universities of Stockholm and Zimbabwe.

He currently holds the Olof Palme Professor for Peace with the Institute for Future Studies in Stockholm.


obinna ukwuani

Obinna Ukwuani is a social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to contributing to the improvement of education on the continent. He moved to Nigeria shortly after receiving his Economics from MIT. As a student, he founded the critically successful Exposure Robotics Academy. Over three years, his team brought in their MIT classmates to transform 113 Nigerian high school students from 17 states around the country (and Ghana) into creative problem solvers who code, through robotics. After the Exposure program ended in 2014, Obinna proceeded to launch the Makers Academy project. This is a multi-million dollar effort to build a state-of-the-art STEM high school where students routinely develop and use of technology skills to create real solutions to societal issues.


stacey brewer

Stacey Brewer is an Endeavor Entrepreneur who has been recognized as the Elle Boss 2015, Mail and Guardian Top 200 South Africans in 2014. She is also a Mandela Washington Fellow 2015, (Barack Obama’s flagship fellowship). After completing her MBA at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, she co-founded SPARK Schools in 2012. SPARK Schools is a network of low cost private schools operating in South Africa, which introduced the first blended learning model on the African continent. There are currently 11 schools in the network serving over 4000 children. SPARK Schools has been recognised through various awards for their innovation in education in Africa.

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yusuf ahmad

Yusuf Ahmad leads design and delivery of Degree Programmes at African Leadership University (ALU). He supports 13 faculty (from 11 different countries) in re-designing the "what" and "how" of learning so that students graduate with the skills, experiences, knowledge, and mindsets to tackle some of the world's toughest challenges. Yusuf graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University with a bachelors degree in Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies. Yusuf joined ALU after a fellowship at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to Carnegie, he worked for the President of the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the years following the Egyptian revolution.

moses oketch

Professor Moses Oketch is the Professor of International Education Policy and Development at UCL. He has conducted extensive research in education policy analysis and impact evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa and specialises in the connection between the theory of human capital and implementation of policies. Professor Oketch began his academic career in 2002 at Vanderbilt University as a research assistant professor of Education and Public Policy before moving to the Institute of Education at the University of London in 2004. In 2012, he was a visiting professor at University of Pennsylvania. Between 2008 and 2011, while on partial leave from university he was a senior research scientist responsible for leading and strengthening education research at African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi. Between December 2012 and 2014, on leave from university he returned to APHRC as director of research. Through research he has contributed approximately 100 papers to the field of education and international development.


Research paper

Prof. Kenneth Simala

Innovative Kiswahili for Regional Integration and Sustainable Development in the East African Community

Kenneth Inyani Simala holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Kiswahili and is Professor of Cultural Linguistics at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya. He is currently the Executive Secretary, East African Kiswahili Commission. He has done research and published in the area of language in general and Kiswahili in particular and how it affects and is impacted on by society. He writes on the interface between language, meaning, culture, communication and development.