Activists, communities and the private sector in the great lakes region have challenged the education system to carry out research and innovations that provide solutions to Sustainable Development.
They say many countries in Africa have not achieved Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and therefore more collaboration is needed to implement 2030 agenda for SDGs.
The concerns were expressed during the conference in Kigali which discussed regional solutions to achieve the agenda. The conference was organized by the University of Rwanda and the UN initiative for Sustainable Development Solutions Network ( SDSN). Among the attendants included DRC, Congo Brazaville, Burundi, Rwanda and various experts in education, civil societies, business, science and others. Reacting to the call, Dr. Marie Christine Gasingirwa, the director general of science, technology and research at the ministry of education said governments are worried by how academic research papers are kept in cupboards without implementation strategy to provide solutions for community.
However, she said many of other research dissertations are of substandard quality. “some graduates’ dissertations have been duplicated and therefore there is need of urgent action to provide education that responds to community problems instead of joining labor market by presenting degree papers without practical skills,” she said.
She also added that innovations, research and creativity are needed to design new solutions to reduce 800 million people still malnourished just like health and environment management are also concerns of sustainable development.
Gasingirwa added that a new competent based curriculum in primary and secondary schools and raising the number of students in TVETS will accelerate to provide graduates who are job creators and innovators to achieve SDGs. She said digitization in Universities will be used to avoid fake dissertations while the best research topics will be monitored and evaluated in the region to be connected to financial institutions or development partners.
The network has started receiving different proposals with solutions from NGOs, private sector and Universities to achieve SDGS in which academia will involve in research and implementation. One such proposal is forest management and enhancing its contribution to sustainable development, land use and livelihoods by the Rwanda local NGO APEDRI (Parents association for education promotion and integrated rural development) in Nyamasheke district.
Eraste Bayihorere a legal advisor of APEDRI said the project must conserve, plant and save trees so that they generate income and jobs for community. Research from academia can help the farmers know which fruitful trees can be mixed with crops or those to produce fruits.
Other proposals discussed are about ending poverty and malnutrition, sanitation and water supply, sustaining tourism and others.
Prof. Murty Kopparthi, the acting chairman of SDSN and Acting principal of college of business and economics said regional countries will learn from each other on MDGs achievement approaches as lessons to achieve post 2030 agenda.
He said some proposals providing solutions to achieve the agenda could be funded. Rwanda achieved all MDGs except only three targets namely; total elimination of stunting of children under five, further reduction of poverty and ensuring more women are shifting from farming jobs.