Ministers call for change at ADEA-AfDB Virtual Forum on COVID-19 impact on Africa's Education

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, 17 July 2020 - The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), in collaboration with the African Development Bank Group, presented yesterday a report that examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and training in Africa, with the participating Ministers highlighting the need to embrace change.

ADEA presented its Country Status Report titled “Impact of COVID-19 on Africa’s Education: Reflecting on Promising Interventions and Challenges, towards a New Normal​” during the virtual forum held on 16 July via Zoom.  Between March and June 2020, ADEA undertook two rapid mapping assessments to gauge the status of learning in African countries amid this tremendous health crisis to provide better support to Ministries of Education and facilitate peer learning between countries. 

The virtual Forum attracted around 200 participants and among them six African ministers of education (i.e. Central African Republic, the Gambia, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda, and Uganda), government representatives of the Minister (i.e. Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia), development partners (e.g. GPE, Mastercard Foundation, UNESCO, and World Bank), education stakeholders, and representatives from the private sector, civil society organizations, youth, and the media. 

The line-up of the main Ministers who intervened live during the Forum (in order of intervention) were: Hon. Tumwesingye Elioda, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (Uganda); Hon. Ginette Amara Ali Mazicki, Minister of Scientific Research and Technology Innovation (Central African Republic); Hon. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education (Ghana); Hon. Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (Mauritius); Hon. Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Education (Rwanda); and Hon. Claudiana Ayo Cole, Minister of Basic and Secondary Education (The Gambia).

The Forum generated intense discussions around challenges and best practices concerning remote learning and the reopening of the learning institutions at all levels.

Prior to the official opening of the Forum, Mr. Albert Nsengiyumva, Executive Secretary of ADEA, expressed his deepest condolences to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire following the death of its Prime Minister, the late Hon. Amadou Gon Coulibaly, which occurred on 8 July 2020. Indeed, due to the funeral preparations, Hon. Kandia K. Camara, Minister of Education and Technical, Vocational Education and Training, could not attend the Forum.

Hon. Tumwesingye Elioda, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (Uganda) and Chairperson of the ADEA Steering Committee, officially opened the Forum welcoming all the participants in attendance. In his opening speech and later intervention, Hon. Elioda stressed that, as pointed in the first ADEA report in May 2020, Africa’s education sector needs a well-resourced Ubuntu or Utu Education Plan to insulate the sector from disruptions due to disasters and emergencies. Mr. Nsengiyumva also reinforced this key concept highlighting that “today, more than ever before, we need to adapt as quickly as possible to disasters and emergencies and look for alternatives to advance education and training in Africa.” 

The key moment of the Forum arrived when Mr. Shem Bodo, ADEA Senior Programs Officer, presented the new report from 12 African countries which revealed not only challenges but also some key strategies and best practices to increase inclusion and quality education in order to “leave no learner behind,” even with remote education. Mr. Bodo took the participants through a deep presentation on how countries are coping with the COVID-19 pandemic by adopting national strategies for mixed remote learning (i.e. using print material, radio, television and online platforms) at all levels (i.e. pre-primary, primary, secondary, technical and vocational training, and higher education). He also mentioned the importance of adopting multipronged strategies for learners with special needs and provided some good examples in Mauritius such as sign language with television lessons, teleconsulting with physiotherapists, one-to-one virtual classes, and so forth. He also stressed the importance of implementing policies and protocols (i.e. social distancing, class size reduction, provision of face masks, etc.) to reopen the learning institutions in the safest possible way. 

Amongst the ADEA key recommendations for the new education delivery model is a review of the overall policy and regulatory guidelines to mainstream digital technology, greater involvement of parents, especially for early learners, and strengthening teacher professional development. This will also entail the adaptation of new curricula and assessment models. It is important to explore alternative funding models while embracing greater peer learning and knowledge exchange amongst countries. 

Over the course of the Forum, Ms. Hendrina C. Doroba, Manager for Education, Human Capital and Employment with the African Development Bank, delivered a presentation on a report which examines the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in African Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions. The report – carried out in collaboration with the Brazilian National Service for Industrial Training (SENAI) – showed that due to the innumerous limitations in the path of digitalization of the education and skills development fields, it is urgent to combine knowledge transfer of traditional skills development best practices to improve their methodology and align the TVET offer to the market needs with of course taking into account new technology transfer and use.

From a country perspective and in light of the new ADEA Report, the different Ministers of Education and their representatives presented an update on the challenges faced and the solutions adopted by their respective countries to tackle the double problem triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, that is the economic crisis and the learning crisis. They unanimously agreed that remote learning is now an imperative and it is vital to invest in cutting-edge ICT infrastructures while enhancing strategic partnerships with different actors such as development partners, civil society and the private sector.   

In addition, from a development partner point of view, it was interesting to observe, during their interventions, how the representatives from the World Bank, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report (GEMR) highlighted the importance of turning the current situation into an opportunity to reimagine education and training in Africa through a radical transformation that will take into account country needs and their different communities.  

Lastly, the Forum allowed ADEA to present its Benchmarking Tool (still under development) which aims to strengthen countries’ readiness to deploy remote education as a sole or complementary learning option in future. The Tool employs a checklist-based approach comprising 11 norms, each with a set of standards. All the norms are informed by the Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025 (CESA 16-25) and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 strategic objectives and critical aspects from the COVID-19 experience.

The time to rethink education and learning in Africa is now.

Media Contacts

  • Stefano De Cupis, Senior Communication Officer, ADEA, [email protected]
  • Kwasi Kpodo, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, [email protected]

 


About ADEA

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) is the voice of education in Africa and a key network of Education Ministries. It plays a significant role in the education space as a convener, knowledge creator and forum for policy dialogue, working through its Inter-Country Quality Nodes (ICQNs) and the Task Force on Education Management and Policy Support. ADEA contributes to the empowerment of African countries to develop quality education and training systems that respond to the countries' emergent needs and drive social and economic transformation sustainably.

http://www.adeanet.org