Mid-term evaluation of the Second Decade of Education in Africa in Mauritius.

Mauritius 24 November, 2011

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) has joined the African Union Commission, UNICEF and UNESCO in a validation meeting for the mid-term evaluation of the plan of action for the Second Decade of Education in Africa, organized by the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Government of the Republic of Mauritius. This meeting which started yesterday in Mauritius was opened by the Mauritian Minister of Tertiary Education, Science, Research and Technology, the Honourable R. Jeetah. In his opening address Minister Jeetah recounted the efforts Mauritius made to promote education being the backbone of development, and which has raised the per capita income from $100 in the 1960s to $8,000 now with an average annual growth rate to 5.2 % over the past 30 years. He told the audience at the opening ceremony that Mauritius is currently undergoing a new era of development as a knowledge economy with his government pursuing a continuous policy of developing the education sector, with the goal of having at least one university graduate per family. Quoting Nelson Mandela who said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, the Minister added that thanks to immense investments in education, Mauritius is now establishing itself as a strong nation in the Indian Ocean. He told the gathering that it is the product of quality education that would guarantee the production of an effective public sector, a strong society and more importantly would ensure the creation of an utterly effective climate for investment within a country.. In declaring the validation meeting of the Mid-term Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa 2011 open, the Minister reminded participants of the aim of the evaluation which is to provide a synopsis of the actions taken at continental, regional and national levels, and their tangible impacts, in order to inform interventions for the remaining years of the decade

Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary of ADEA, Mr. Ahlin Byll-Cataria thanked the Commission of the African Union for associating ADEA in this important meeting. He noted that ADEA as a key partner of the African Union has ensured the convergence of its programme activities with the priorities of the Second Decade, and is also looking forward to taking the results of the evaluation into account in its future work programmes. Mr. Byll-Cataria urged African nations to recognize the efforts, experiences and achievements of small states like Mauritius and Cape Verde which are seen as excellent examples of good governance on the African continent. These two countries have been able to achieve considerably well in developing their education systems. By way of example, Mr. Byll-Cataria noted that Africa has enough means to be self sufficient in human resources, and in the agriculture and energy sectors but in the current context, the continent is merely at a cross roads which would compel its citizens to work harder, avoid conflicts, and facilitate its peoples, especially its youths to contribute effectively to the sustainable development of the continent. With significant resources being invested in education by African countries these days, Africa needs results and hence every effort should be made to avoid a third decade of education, as African governments and their Ministers of Education would rather not go for this. For these and other reasons, ADEA as a network and forum of education Ministers and stakeholders, is continuing its efforts at promoting policy dialogue, and in 2012 will hold its Triennial meeting on the theme Education and Training for Sustainable Development in Africa from 12 to 17 February 2012 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Mr Byll-Cataria concluded.

A representative from UNESCO, Ms Lily Hailu who spoke on behalf of Mrs Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, the Director of UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Education in Africa (BREDA) told the gathering that UNESCO was grateful to continue in the path of partnership and was determined and committed to accompanying the African Union Commission and its partners in providing technical expertise and capacity development in the eight priority areas of focus of the plan of action which are Gender and Culture ; Education Management Information Systems ; Teacher Development ; Tertiary Education ; Technical and Vocational Education and Training ; Curriculum and Teaching Materials ; Quality management and Early Childhood Development. She noted that a directive underscored by the Director General of UNESCO in a Memorandum of Understanding with the African Union has called for the alignment of UNESCO’s education programmes with the Goals set in the Second Decade. This mid-term evaluation is therefore an opportunity for UNESCO to assess which of the goals it will reinforce in its future work programme, Ms. Hailu concluded.

Speaking on behalf of UNICEF, Ms Metasebia Solomon, the Programme Specialist based at the UNICEF-African Union liaison office in Addis Ababa told the meeting that UNICEF believes that the Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa promotes a holistic education approach and creates a platform for partners to coordinate and harmonize their education efforts in Africa. It is in line with this that UNICEF strongly supports its implementation, monitoring and current efforts at this mid-term evaluation of the Plan of Action and looks forward to the outcome of the meeting.

The Head of the Education Division and Acting Director of the Human Resources, Science and Technology Unit of the African Union Commission, Dr. Beatrice Njenga underscored the importance of this exercise and noted that this workshop would determine the future of the Second Decade of Education, and that every initiative in education in Africa should be governed by this plan of action. She told the gathering that this plan has so far provided impetus and guidance for the African Union and that this includes the African Union Observatory. She elaborated further on new initiatives undertaken by the African Union such as the Mwalimu Nyerere Scholarship Scheme and the role that the Regional Economic Communities have played so far by domesticating the plan of action.

The opening session was chaired by Dr Praveen Mohadeb, Executive Director of the Mauritius Tertiary Education Commission who recalled the vision of the African Union for a peaceful and prosperous continent whose development is driven by its own population, and the decision of the Summit of Heads of States of the African Union to launch the Second Decade of Education for Africa, with eight priority areas of focus. Dr Praveen Mohaded’s main message was “If others have achieved development through education and innovation, together we in Africa can”.

In January 2006, the Summit of Heads of States and Government of the African Union declared the Second Decade of Education for Africa, 2006 – 2015. This followed extensive consultations among African ministers of education through the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF II), and development partners. Such consultations had been necessitated by the realization that the original decade of education for Africa (1997 – 2006) was coming to anend before the goals had been achieved. As instructed by COMEDAF in their ordinary session in April 2005, the Commission of the African Union (AUC) carried out an evaluation of the decade of education and confirmed the need for a second collective effort towards raising the levels of education quality, access and relevance in Africa.

The mid-term evaluation report was presented by Dr. David Hornsby on behalf of an international team of consultants which is made up of Mr. Neil Butcher as team leader, Dr Serge Bayala, Ms Sarah Hoosen and the presenter himself. The report draws on three levels of analysis : country level, Regional Economic Community (REC) level and international partners. It covers the key achievements and challenges in the eight priority areas of focus as well as recommendations for action by various stakeholders at the three levels of analysis. The exercise will continue for another two days and will end on Friday November 25, 2011.