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Empowering tomorrow’s stars: role of education in cultivating talent

The African continent is ripe with unrealised potential. The people and their abilities, as well as their powerful relationships promise a wealth of future achievements – if only they can be fully actualised.

The key to the people of the continent becoming all that they might be lies in one singular intervention: education. Fortunately, education is widely prized across the continent, and it is a shared aspiration amongst almost all Africans. In this spirit, as the continent celebrates the founding of the African Union (AU) on Africa Day on May 25, the AU has chosen “The Year of Education” as its theme for 2024.

Expressed more thoroughly, the theme is “Educate an African fit for the 21st century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.”

Given the key concern of “resilient education” in this theme, it’s useful to consider how organisations are addressing Africa’s education challenge, and how they are ensuring the skills that students gain are directly relevant to their future development, and that of the continent.

Relevant training

One such organisation is the MultiChoice Talent Factory (MTF), an initiative by pan-African entertainment company MultiChoice. MTF consists of three offerings – MTF Academies in major African capitals provide hands-on, relevant training for aspiring TV and film professionals; the MTF portal, allows professionals to network and find work opportunities; the MTF masterclasses offer an ongoing programme of professional development.

The most influential of these MTF offerings are the MTF academies in Nairobi, Lagos and Lusaka. The academies equip aspiring industry professionals with the crucial “sustainable education” it takes to thrive in the rapidly changing film-and-television sector.

Now in its sixth year in the rest of Africa, the programme offers a comprehensive, fully paid 12-month industry-readiness course that gives participants the invaluable opportunity to learn from industry experts in fields such as scripting, directing, producing, cinematography, commissioning and editing.

This focus on hands-on experience ensures that graduates emerge not just qualified, but with practical, proven ability to work in the sector. This focus on directly relevant skills gives the industry a pipeline of trained professionals entering the job market and also gives the hundreds of young people emerging from MTF Academies every year, a good chance of finding careers.

An MTF survey has found that around 92 per cent of MTF Academy graduates go on to work in the creative sector. Many of these young professionals go on to careers at MultiChoice, which bills itself as “Africa’s most-loved storyteller”.

Unlocking youth potential

This level of absorption demonstrates another benefit of education in the African development journey: it unlocks the massive potential of the continent’s youthful population. MTF Academy students consistently win awards at film festivals, have their work shown on major platforms and go on to great career success.

These successes underscore how directly relevant, industry-focused training will rapidly generate real benefits. The success that MultiChoice has found by training its own industry professionals offers an instructive case for corporates in other sectors.

This is especially true in Africa, where the continent’s enormous cohort of young people represents its greatest global opportunity – but only if this opportunity is converted through education.

Education is what will transform Africa’s 400 million young people aged between 15 and 35 into a generation of doctors, lawyers, financiers, engineers and media professionals.

In the words of the African Union, “… such a youthful population calls for an increase of investment in economic and social development factors, in order to improve the development index of African nations.”

The MTF training programme is an intentional development initiative in this vein. It is designed to create careers for aspiring film and television professionals, but also to directly address the needs of MultiChoice, the media sector, and the African economy as a whole.

Cultural impact

Another critical value proposition of this pipeline from training to production in the creative sector is its cultural impact. Training African creatives equips them to tell African stories.

As dynamic, highly-skilled African creatives go on to produce content that resonates powerfully with African audiences, it drives engagement, enriches the businesses and allows Africa’s people to see themselves reflected in powerful entertainment content with world-class entertainment values.

It’s an innovative approach to the idea of “educating Africa”, in that it equips Africans to educate other Africans – culturally and spiritually – through the telling of African stories. These African stories also allow Africa to show the rest of the world the power of its history and the talent of its people, as our productions take their rightful place on global content platforms.

On this Africa Day, this dual approach to African self-actualisation has never been more relevant. The continent is developing the abilities of its people through education and training; but also enhancing its standing in the world, by producing goods, services and creative output that will add value, entertain and inspire. To educate the world about the power of Africa.

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