Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday called on the youth to emulate U.S. President-elect Barrack Obama by embracing education in order to realize their dreams.
Kibaki noted that Obama has made tremendous achievements and reached where he is today because of his determination, hard work and positive attitude in embracing education as a critical life tool.
"We welcome the new development in the United States and believe that, as Africans, President-elect Obama has given us a real boost," Kibaki said.
Kibaki pointed out that the young Obama took his education seriously and was not side-tracked by life challenges.
Speaking in Nairobi when he officially opened the African Regional Preparatory Conference for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s Sixth International Conference on Adult Education, Kibaki reiterated that his government considers education as a basic right for all its citizens and a prerequisite for sustainable, economic and social development.
"Towards realizing this basic right, we have over the last six years introduced reforms in our education sector aimed at improving access, equity and quality education," Kibaki said.
The president said that his government has implemented Free Primary Education Program since 2003 as a measure of commitment towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of education for all.
"This program has seen enrolment in primary schools rise from 5. 9 million children to 8.2 million currently. Further, to ensure sustainable youth education, we introduced Free Secondary School tuition from January this year," he said.
Kibaki expressed optimism that with such elaborate measures in place, adult illiteracy would be eliminated in the near future, adding that increased places in institutions of higher learning will enable many secondary school graduates to access tertiary and university education.
The president noted that under the Vision 2030, the government envisages a well-educated and skilled human resource base, which is a critical factor towards the success of the vision.
"We have further sought to improve the access to higher education by encouraging private sector investments in the education sector. I am glad to note that we have witnessed keen interest by private investors in post-secondary education, including university level education," Kibaki said.
The government targets at attaining 80 percent mark both in adult literacy level and transition rate from primary to secondary education level by 2012, the president declared.
Kibaki said that the government has extended huge financial supports to primary school, non-formal school and adult education centers to step up the provision of education to adults.
The president noted that the crucial role education plays in development has compelled government to integrate adult education into the mainstream education system to ensure coordinated policy development and implementation to achieve the maximum utilization of both personnel and facilities.
"Adult and continuing education has, therefore, become part of the investment programs within the Kenya Education Sector Support Program which aims at giving every Kenyan the right to quality education," he said.
He said that the since the youth comprises the majority in the total labor force supply in many African countries, it was vital to pay special attention to the education of the young populace.
"Indeed, the youth between 15 and 35 years of age account for about 38 percent of our population. More importantly, the youth form about 60 percent of the total labor force in the country," he said.
Kibaki appealed for continued donor supports in various education programs in the country.
The president thanked UNESCO for sponsoring the forum and urged the organization to create more such opportunities for educators to review, plan and exchange their unique experiences.
(Xinhua News Agency November 5, 2008)