The All African Student Union (AASU), a Pan-African students’ organisation formed in 1972 held its 8th summit in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, from the 19th to 23rd December, 2019. Headquartered in Accra, Ghana, the Union was set up to galvanise young people in Africa and the Diaspora towards development on the African continent.
Since its inception, it now has presence in all the 54 African countries, making it the umbrella body for the youth, particularly students, on the African continent as well as those in the diaspora.
The Union played a special role in the struggle against apartheid and the democratization of education by mobilizing African students and youth to rid the continent of the last vestiges of colonialism.
Today, AASU has re-invented itself and is at the forefront of the fight for equal access to quality education, quality assurance in higher education, harmonization of curriculum, democratic governance, respect of human rights and gender, promotion of African culture, sustainable development, entrepreneurship development, etc.
In recognition of its efforts towards championing the cause of students in Africa and contributing effectively to solving global problems, the UN awarded AASU a certificate of merit in March 2000 at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This year’s summit is being organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Morocco Agency of International Co-operation (AMCI) of the Kingdom of Morocco, in collaboration with the Ghana-Morocco Old Students Association (GHAMOSA)
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Morocco, Monsieur Nasser Bourita, noted that Morocco had trained thousands of Africans from 37 different countries through scholarships. He said that more than 5000 had also benefitted from internship programmes and all these were aimed at getting the youth of Africa well trained.
He urged other African countries to make scholarships available to the youth and charged that African development be relooked at in a more innovative way.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs in Ghana, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey noted that this year’s gathering was the largest in the history of the Union. She praised AASU for pursuing its goals to ensure equal rights of students, reducing illiteracy and drug abuse and ensuring human rights, among others.
She called on all to give the youth the needed space to operate and urged them to think outside the box for innovative solutions.
Madam Ayorkor Botchwey pointed out that in Ghana, educating the youth has always been a priority, hence the free Senior High School programme which ensures that students get secondary school education for free. She noted that the government of His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwah Akufo Addo had reduced unemployment from 11.9% in 2015 to 7.1% in 2019 and this was achieved through the 1 district, I factory programme, as well as the planting for food and jobs programme.
The Ghanaian Minister thanked the Moroccan government for opening its doors to a lot of disciplines for Ghanaian students. She said that these students have returned to Ghana and are contributing their lot to the economy of Ghana.
She was hopeful that the summit would come out with innovative ideas that would translate into viable prospects for the youth of Africa.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mauritania, Mr Smael Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that his government was also investing a lot in education and employment and thanked the Moroccan government for opening its doors to students from Mauritania. He said that these students have returned and are occupying good positions in the country and contributing positively to the development of Mauritania.
He pleaded with all migrants to go back and contribute to the development of their countries.
Guinea’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Mamadi Toure noted that Africa was becoming very competitive and hoped that recommendations from the summit would help African youth forge ahead and advance the objectives of the continent. He was happy that participants at the summit included civil society to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations. He called for more south-south co-operation.
The Foreign Affairs Minister of the Comoros Islands, Mr Amine Souef, said that the African continent is experiencing a huge demographic growth with the youth as the heart beat of the continent.
He noted that there are a lot of talented youth around the world who also face a lot of challenges and urged African leaders to help address the challenges being faced by the youth so they would be able to give off their best.
He said that Africa should take advantage of the African solidarity and offer healthy solutions to the youth who have amazing talents so they don’t fall into vices such as terrorism.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Gambia, Mr Mamadou Tangara told the gathering that he was a proud alumnus of Moroccan education and lamented the fact that the continent is very rich yet its citizens are very poor.
He said that Africans should concentrate on things that bind its peoples together and not on those that will divide it. He noted that Africans must look at things from their own perspectives and not from perspectives of others.
He encouraged the youth to keep forging ahead as everything was possible under the sun.
A representative from the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research in Morocco, Mr Driss Ouaouicha noted that the number of African students who come to study in Morocco had risen from 250,000 to 1,000,000. He said that the education in Morocco aimed at making their products critical thinkers.
The Dean of African Ambassadors in Morocco, Mr Nimaga, said that 60% of Africa’s population is the youth and they need to be adequately equipped to assume leadership in the near future.
The Secretary General of AASU, Mr Peter Kwasi Kodjie said that the actions of Africans in the past, have defined what Africa is today and their actions today, would define what the future of Africa would be.
A digital platform was officially launched for alumni of Moroccan educational institutions.
There were solidarity messages from partners of AASU.