Teaching and learning in Africa: A brief overview

Inter-Country Quality Nodes (ICQN), developed by ADEA, bring together members around commonly shared education and training challenges. How can the ICQN on teaching and learning be beneficial to the African education arena?
Teacher Duria Balla looks over and corrects student's work; Class 3, Asfia Badr Basic School for Girls, Nile East Locality, Alfayhaa Administrative Unit, Al-Baraka District, near Khartoum, Sudan. CREDIT: GPE/Kelley Lynch

This is the 10th blog post published in 2018 as part of the collaborative effort launched in 2017 between the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

The first World Teachers' Day was held on 5 October 1994. This important day celebrates the role teachers play in providing quality education at all levels. This enables children and adults of all ages to learn to take part in and contribute to their local community and global society.

World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

The 2018 theme “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher” was chosen to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), where education is recognized as a key fundamental right. A right that cannot be fulfilled without qualified teachers.

ICQN Network: a core mechanism for action and engagement

In keeping with its vision of a high quality African education and training system that is geared towards the promotion of critical knowledge, skills and attitude for accelerated and sustainable development in Africa, ADEA has put in place numerous mechanisms for action and engagement.

Among these are the Inter-Country Quality Nodes (ICQNs) which have been set up following the recommendations of the 2003 and 2006 Biennales to build capacity in Africa through the sharing of knowledge and innovative educational experiences among peers.

These recommendations have been crystalized in the ADEA “Strategic Policy Framework” approved and adopted by Heads of State of the African Union at the 2013 Summit in Addis Ababa.

This key conference stressed that the promotion of critical skills needed for accelerated sustainable development in Africa can be achieved through establishing strategic partnerships among African countries for the exchange and sharing of knowledge and experiences.

An Inter-Country Quality Node (ICQN) is a platform - whose creation is facilitated by ADEA - hosted by a champion country for exchange of experiences and a community of practice that brings together its members around commonly shared education and training challenges.

How the ICQN on Teaching and Learning can be beneficial to the African education arena?

The overall objective of ADEA’s ICQN-TL, hosted and led by Rwanda, is to support ministers of education to take the lead in developing and implementing policies and strategies for effective teaching and learning in Africa.

The ICQN focuses on teachers' professional development and other areas of learning related to the continuum of education (i.e. curriculum teaching and learning materials and measurement of learning outcomes).

Specific objectives include:

  • Addressing the issue of teacher quality;
  • Promoting the integration of ICT into teaching and learning;
  • Promoting appropriate learner assessment approaches to ensure quality learning and teaching;
  • Accumulating information on innovative educational experiences in Africa and working with a group of countries in the region to apply these experiences to their national contexts;
  • Peer learning and sharing of best practices among ICQN members countries for capacity building and program implementation at the national level.

ADEA will keep on supporting the Ministry of Education of Rwanda to take the lead in the development and implementation of policies and strategies through a 3-year strategic plan for the ICQN-TL.

There is an increasing demand from stakeholders (i.e. governments, learners, parents and employers) to ensure quality, value for money and the success of learners. While within the past decade there have been tremendous efforts made to improve access and ensure equity; quality has in most instances been compromised.

Going forward, much more needs to be done not only to pursue the goals of access and equity but also relevance and quality simultaneously with the aim of ensuring the success of learners.

Main activities of the ICQN-TL

The ICQN-TL is currently conducting a range of activities aimed at empowering teachers with the competencies they need to improve learning outcomes in the ever changing and complex education sector conditions that are coupled with expensive global technological changes. 

The Joint Assessments Training of Trainers workshop held in September 2017 in Kigali was one of the main strategic activities on training assessments carried out in the African continent.

The key objective of the workshop was to train assessment officials on continuous based assessment, psychometrics in assessment as well as competency based curriculum. As you can see, it fits well within this year’s World Teachers’ Day theme.

The ICQN-TL is also looking to contribute to the improvement of the teaching profession by conducting a comparative study on secondary school teacher motivation and incentive, funded by the MasterCard Foundation. This research exercise will target both female and male teachers in a selected group of public secondary schools in Kenya, Rwanda and Senegal, taking into account economic (urban/rural) and linguistic (French/English) considerations.

Lastly, the ICQN-TL will keep on strengthening its collaboration with the Network of African Learning Assessments (NALA) by providing a platform for teachers to exchange teaching and learning practices and experiences through several communication and information channels.

Together with NALA, during the Joint Assessments Training of Trainers workshop held in September 2017 in Kigali, the ICQN-TL trained assessment officials on continuous assessment, psychometrics in assessment as well as competencies-based curriculum. Seven countries (Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and over 50 participants, including teachers’ trainers, assessment officials and civil society organizations, enhanced their knowledge in elements of assessment that contribute to the empowerment of teachers in supporting the improvement of learning outcomes from the classroom level up.

The ICQN-TL and NALA will encourage teacher mobility to gain and share direct experiences in teaching, learning and assessment for some key subjects like science, technology and mathematics as well as teaching and learning language.

Remaining challenges and way forward

One of the main challenges to education and training is the continued shortage of teachers. As there are an estimated 262 million children and youth still out of school globally, according to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the world needs to recruit almost 69 million new teachers to reach the 2030 education goal of universal primary and secondary education. This ‘teacher gap’ is more pronounced among vulnerable populations – girls, children with disabilities, refugee and migrant children, and poor children living in rural or remote areas.

Trained and qualified teachers are fundamental to the right to education.  ADEA’s ICQN-TL seeks solutions to promote teaching and learning for all but a stronger commitment from the African country is still the first step for moving forward.