ADDIS ABABA, The future of Africa is dependent on the quality of education and in its inclusivity of women, says former Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwere, who is a member of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

Most women in Africa do not have access to quality education or training, Kikwete said here Wednesday in his keynote address to the 2nd High-Level Dialogue on Enhancing Policies and Practices to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focused technical and vocational education and training (TVET) for women and girls.

"Without quality and relevant education, the youth, especially women, cannot be a catalyst for economic growth and lasting peace."

Stating that globally there are about 260 million children out of school of whom 100 million are in Africa, he said "more work is needed to be done, if not the youth can become source of economic instability and conflict".

The African Union (AU) Commissioner for Human Resource, Science and Technology, Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, said educating women and girls had become a non-negotiable issue. Noting that Africa needs to harness the potential of women and girls in the STEM and STEM-focused TVET, she said "political commitment in investing in girls has to be enhanced".

According to her, the dialogue here this week will lead to the participants' engagement towards promoting policies and gender responsive budgeting in their respective countries.

"The women's place is not to be ignored, rather it is high time that women start getting engaged in STEM and TVET work," she pointed out, adding that there is no true development without the empowerment of women.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said investing in education is the most important thing to promote sustainable development.

Noting that lack of jobs in many developing countries is a severe challenge, she said many boys and girls do not get the education they need and leave school without the necessary skills to enter the job market".