Laafia said the EU has set in place a targeted regional initiative that will have a specific thematic focus on research and innovation to support the EU-Africa Research and Innovation Partnership on food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture (FNSSA) with a budget of €90 million (US$100 million).
He said the importance of comprehensive education strategies such as CESA, which are geared to respond to socio-economic needs and upgrade the quality and relevance of education systems, are widely recognised.
It was the EU’s desire to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development in Africa by investing in youth for both Africa and Europe.
The European Consensus on Development, which advocates access to quality education for all as a prerequisite for youth and employability and long-lasting development, demands that research is at the centre of development in higher education, including tertiary technical and vocational education, Laafia added.
While there was need for a strong focus on the harmonisation of education systems as a driver for integration, in line with the goals of the African Union, there must also be an emphasis on quality assurance, cross-country comparability and mutual recognition of qualifications, which make skills “portable” and thus enable intra-regional and international exchanges, he said.
“This approach is inspired by the know-how built in Europe over two decades through the Bologna Process that has gradually led countries with different political, cultural and academic traditions to reform their higher education structures according to common values, and to create a European Higher Education Area that facilitates student and staff mobility and boosts employability,” he stated.