Working Group on Communication for Education and Development (COMED)


Despite progress made in education in Africa over the past two decades, which include a considerable increase in access to education and an improvement in transition rates between educational levels, there are still many challenges that remain to be tackled. One challenge is to build national commitment to developing a communication strategy for Education for All (EFA). 

Communication programs in education should encourage exchanges of information within a community, help draw out consensus in a group, and stimulate the collective action needed to solve specific problems. At the international level, such communication programs should strengthen partnerships by sharing information, maximizing coordination, and harmonizing donor support for specific initiatives.

What is the COMED?

The Communication for Education and Development (COMED) program was established by ADEA in 1998 to help build national consensus and enhance public support for education policies and programs. The World Bank, with financial support from the Norwegian Education Trust Fund, and in collaboration with the West African News-Media and Development Center (WANAD), supported COMED's activities to promote the use of communication in support of education. In 2002, COMED became an ADEA working group.

COMED is made up of four major constituencies: ministries of education through their communication or information units, media specialized in education reporting, communication researchers and trainers, and development organizations, including regional and local civil society organizations working in education.

COMED is administered by a steering committee that assumes an advisory role and participates in agenda setting, and ensuring a broader impact of COMED's activities by involving expertise in journalism, communication, education and development. The COMED Secretariat is currently based in Addis Ababa, Ethiophia, at its host institution, the African Union Commission (AUC). COMED's vision is to promote joint action for building confidence, trust, and ownership among ministries of education and finance, the media, and all education stakeholders. Through the work of COMED and its network of journalists and the press in general, new knowledge generated in educational reform in sub-Saharan Africa is shared, which in turn enhances policy dialogue among the various stakeholders. This also promotes common understanding of the issues in educational reform and helps build commitment and ownership of reforms.

What are the objectives of the working group?

COMED is committed to promoting dialogue and consensus on educational programs and policies by reinforcing communication structures in African countries. 

What does the working group do?

COMED is involved in a number of activities, the main being: 

  •  Promoting national and sub-regional training workshops for journalists and communication officers in ministries of education and civil society organizations
  •  Building a network of education journalists and education ministry communication officers Organizing media coverage of major education events in Africa 
  •  Organizing the Africa Education Journalism Award, which recognizes the best articles on education by African journalists
  •  Promoting research and advisory services in communication for education and development

COMED also consults with African broadcasters to explore policy changes for enhancing and extending use of community radio for education promotion. COMED has also given assistance to the Fédération africaine des associations des parents d'élèves et d'étudiants (FAPE) for its project, 'L'Ecole des parents,' radio broadcasts in which parents speak to parents about education. Evaluation has shown that this is a promising initiative, and will be expanded to cover 12 countries across the continent in 2010/11 from the initial three countries piloted in 2005.

COMED is producing an innovative and comprehensive training tool kit for communication officers of ministries of education, journalists reporting on education, as well as members of civil society organizations engaged in policy debates and dialogue on educational issues at national, sub-regional, and regional levels. It will also serve researchers and students of communication, media studies, and education and development. The kit, which will be available online and in print, will be useful to decision makers such as Ministers and Directors of Education in African ministries of education as it will offer a systemic approach involving them, as well their communication officers, journalists, and civil society groups, in communicating better for education and development on the continent.

COMED is also working with the African Union Commission to develop a Communication Strategy to help implement the African Union's Second Decade Plan of Action (2006 - 2015) for Education in Africa.

The COMED website 

Its newly revamped website has increased COMED's visibility and networking functions. It links the COMED's various constituencies: media, education ministries, researchers and instructors, education stakeholders, development partners, and the larger ADEA family by providing and exchanging information about communication for education in Africa. News about education from media, as well as clippings and contributions from communication officers in education ministries, are currently being complemented by moderated electronic forum discussions on various subjects of interest.

The Akintola Fatoyinbo Africa Education Journalism Award

COMED has been actively involved in the design and management of the Africa Education Journalism Award instituted by ADEA in 2001. The objectives of the award are to encourage African journalists to write relevant and reliable articles on education, encourage African newspapers to publish regular columns and supplements on education, foster the development of a network of African journalists specializing in covering education topics, and strengthen ADEA's ties with the African media. In 2003, the award was renamed the Akintola Fatoyinbo Africa Education Journalism Award. 

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COMED is developing partnerships with a number of institutions and is building on good practices from regional and country case studies in order to enhance effective coverage of education issues in African countries. In 2010, the COMED will be working with national universities, training institutes, and media institutions in Africa at country and regional levels to organize and host a number of sub-regional workshops over the course of the year to train journalists and communicators covering the education sector.