The damages caused as a result of the COVID-19 crisis are continuing to escalate in all economies of the world. African economies are no exception. Despite the bold interventions of some African states, the coronavirus crisis continues to worsen and its impact is not only limited to health and working methods, but also extends to food, national and international diplomacy, education, and much more. 

Connectivity now plays a huge role in driving novelty and access to knowledge and social mobility. Indeed, self-employment and small or medium-sized enterprises statistics have been growing in many countries, but these are often fueled by educational opportunities. It’s never enough to highlight the role of education in achieving social mobility and in increasing income flow. Most recently, inequality seems to be increasing between highly educated and poorly educated people or between those with access to evolving technologies and those who lack such access.

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This is when some people may start to ask the question; “What if the solution is in the hands of someone with no proper access to education?” Even though the pandemic has slowed down reforms and progress towards SDG 4, accessible education for everyone remains a priority for all societies. Education will be crucial to the post-pandemic economic and social recovery due to its essential role in increasing economic growth. With this being said, the post-pandemic situation will require fast and efficient educational methods to be implemented in societies.

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Humans are born with many inherent abilities, and of those, the ability to adapt to change is one of the most important.  In a world that changes at a fast and unpredicted pace, the knowledge provided by the traditional curricula is oftentimes lacking. In such circumstances, children and adults need to acquire independent and innovative mindsets and produce required solutions to overcome sustainability, economic, societal challenges and much more.  Thus, it is crucial to adapt this ability and to invest in valuable tools that will be useful when it comes to unprecedented change and creating innovative solutions.

In conclusion, education, innovation and critical thinking are important tools for economic growth and if purpose-driven, they can be tools for social change.  It is therefore imperative that we, as global citizens, support literacy projects, because education is a fundamental human right that is necessary for sustainable, economic development and prosperity.

Written by: Regina Asanyo

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This article was inspired by the round table discussion between civil society and youth representatives to speak on the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the World Bank’s support to Africa. The discussion was held virtually on 13.06.2020, organized by the World Bank Africa Region office, in collaboration with the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa.