LEARNING TO COMPETE has been a genuinely cross-sectoral research project since its design stage in late 1995 and early 1996 - with important inputs from DFID's Education Department and the Enterprise Development Group. At every stage of the project there has been a genuine partnership between enterprise and education colleagues. Thus, both sectors were present at its conception, and at its launch; and at its mid term international conference, both supported key analysts on Enterprise-and-Education in Africa to attend. The Project Advisory Meetings were chaired by John Grierson, who has been known for his work on Small Enterprise Development.
With the advent of the new government and the 1997 White Paper on International Development, there was an opportunity to look both at education and enterprise through the new lens of poverty and growth. In the fieldwork too, there was considerable interest and encouragement from those DFID staff concerned with education and small enterprise, and this was particularly evident in all the three project countries, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana. The dissemination phase both in the UK and in Africa is being planned jointly with Education and Enterprise Advisors.
But this is not an artificial partnership. At a time when there has never been a stronger donor focus on the primary school sub-sector, it has become important to think about the relationship between basic education and the development of basic skills. And at a time when the decade of concentration on Education for All is complete, there are now important questions to be asked about the essential skills that all young people will need for employment and for self-employment. What kind of training and education are people receiving that may assist them in this fast globalising world?
As far as the dissemination of this research to wider policy audiences is concerned, the Edinburgh team has played a key role in the Working Group for International Cooperation in Skills Development, and in its discussion papers (see bibliography). And at the mid-term point of the research, the Project was supported by the Centre of African Studies and by DFID and the Foreign Office to put on a critical policy analysis conference on "Enterprise in Africa: between Poverty and Growth" (King & McGrath 1999).
This present volume will be a key element in a series of dissemination events that have already been planned in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and the UK, apart from, we hope, making a contribution independently to policy makers and academics in Africa and elsewhere.
As it has been a team effort from the start, it is entirely appropriate that the authorship of this Report reflect three years of intensive partnership.
Kenneth King, Director, Learning to Compete Project & Director, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh