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Setting the Pace for Pan African Education

Ministers of Education of Africa, high level government officials, representatives of the African Union and of the United Nations Organizations gathered in Nairobi, from 25 to 27 April 2018 to agree on a Declaration and Call for Action to strengthen education across Africa.


Setting the pace of Pan African Education starts with African People, and African Ministers of Education gathered in Nairobi, Kenya to take the ownership and work in collaboration and synergy to fulfil the Africa 2063 Agenda  of the African Union for a prosperous, inclusive and peaceful Africa.


The gathering kicked off with two-days of technical meetings on inclusion and gender equality, leveraging 21st century technologies for the advancement of educational systems, fostering a peaceful Africa with focus on research, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), technical and vocational trainings, skills for life and access to quality education and training for all.


The conference was attended by AU representatives, NGOs, UN Organizations and education representatives from African countries. More than 600 delegates participated in the historical meeting, aimed at aligning the United Nations global sustainable development goals, in particular SDG 4 and Education 2030 Agenda, with the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25).


“We must give importance to technology and innovation, and in youth driving the change of the African economies for the Africa We want,” stated AU Commissioner Professor Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor.


“Education is going to make the difference between progress on our continent and disaster,” said Amina Mohammed, Minister of Education of Kenya "It is upon every one of us to ensure that our youth have access to education, and not just education, but quality and inclusive education".


Strong emphasis was given to gender equality, equal access to education for all, using digital technology and implementing diversified and appropriate learning policies and programmes to reach the unreached, promoting a multilingual education, sign language and Braille, as well as promoting teaching and learning in the mother tongue, to safeguard and raise the status, esteem and value of indigenous African languages.


“The new challenge is how to teach and learn in the technological digital arena. We must rethink education together, involving communities, students, teachers, parents, as well as political leaders, UN organizations to listen to the needs of the Youth in the 21st century" highlighted Edouard Firmin Matoko, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO, Africa Department, "Everybody needs to be on board. We need to open eyes and ears and listen to the Youth, making sure there is no exclusion".


An extraordinary and moving testimony was provided from the Kenyan youth “Education is the answer, is the solution, it can move mountains, and disability is not inability” stressing the need to have increased budgets to cater for ICT-based learning, building and equipping more schools in rural areas and investing in specialized schools for students living with disabilities.


Deliberations during the final day of the Ministerial meeting focused on financing education, monitoring and reporting, policies and strategies to strengthen mechanisms for effective partnerships and coordination at national and continental levels. In the Nairobi Declaration and Call for Action, adopted by Ministers of Education on 27 April 2018, governments committed to progressively allocate at least 4 to 6 % of national gross domestic product, or at least 15 to 20 % of total public expenditure for education, in line with the principles of size, share, sensitivity, and scrutiny.


All ministers also called to strengthen partnerships, collaboration and commitment of international development partners in supporting African education development around national priorities, including in low-income, fragile and conflict-affected contexts, and in promoting innovative approaches to education and training. Furthermore, it was agreed to convene the Pan-African High Level conference on Education biennially to take of the progress made by Africa and support the implementation of CESA 16-25 and SDG4- Education 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want. Ministers also committed to working with the AU/IPED and UNESCO/UIS/GEMR to produce a biennial report monitoring progress on achievement of CESA 16-25 and SDG4-Education 2030 implementation at continental level.


Highlights of the conference were the launch of the Gender Review of the Global Monitoring Report, on 26 April 2018, where the Director of the GEM Report, Manos Antoninis, said: “Countries across the African continent must level the playing field using new and policy and legislative incentives to ensure that both boys and girls have access to learning opportunities." The report noted that many African countries are yet to achieve gender parity in basic and tertiary education thanks to rampant poverty, cultural barriers and policy gaps. Mr Antoninis said a radical policy shift coupled with robust financing and public education is an imperative to boost school enrolment among girls in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Finally, as special guest of the conference, President of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta joined PACE2018, pledging to rally his counterparts in Africa to support transformation of the education sector in the continent, in the light of evolving socio-economic and cultural dynamics. “Governments should rally behind a system of learning that addresses contemporary challenges facing the world's second largest continent.”


Morocco presented its candidature to host PACE2020, the second edition of the Pan African High Level conference on Education, to share experiences, lessons learned, success stories and to monitor the progress of the SDG4 and CESA16-25.


The Director of UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, Mrs. Ann Therese Ndong Jatta said: “We need Solutions, We need Partnerships, we need more Africa, not repeating the same concepts, but listening to Youth and Investing in them, who are the Future and the embodiment of Education, Science and Technology for the Transformation of Africa. We need cross-border collaboration to share experiences and knowledge for the advancement of the continent in science, technology and innovation. Together, with passion and motivation, we can.”


For further reading & viewing:

Nairobi Declaration and Call for Action on Education- Bridging continental and global education frameworks for the Africa We Want- Nairobi April 2018, in EN & FR.

Video: Youth conference PACE2018

Flickr Album: Pan African High Level Conference on Education 25 – 27 April 2018