Education International
Education International

Creating a future of quality education in Africa begins now

published 4 February 2015 updated 16 February 2015

Faced with the challenge of achieving quality education for all in Africa, educators and unionists from across the continent are in Nairobi, Kenya to pave the way toward real solutions.

Under the theme of ‘ Achieving Quality Education in Africa: Prospects and Challenges Beyond 2015,’ Education International’s (EI) 8th Africa Regional Conference officially kicked-off today in Nairobi, Kenya.

In his opening remarks, His Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, said that his country must “ensure that the quality of education meets the basic requirements for human capital development”. Acknowledging the importance of quality education, from Early Childhood Education to tertiary studies and research, the president added that governments and educators must maintain a solid partnership to drive quality education agenda.

Quality education only possible with quality teaching

Reiterating Kenyatta, EI’s General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen stressed that “there is no quality education without quality teaching, and there is no quality teaching without highly motivated, well trained and well paid teachers.” However, he noted that an increasing number of teachers in Africa are being forced to work on limited-term contracts for shrinking salaries and resources, increased work-loads, less professional development and are losing autonomy.

“If national governments are serious about improving education, then they need to start listening to teachers. Teachers know what students need to succeed,” he said.

Thematic breakout sessions focused on: Early Childhood Education; the Higher Education and Research Network; the Communication and Organising Network; the Education and Solidarity Network; and the Global Campaign for Education, the Global Partnership in Education and Local Education Groups target the major education issues in Africa.

Delegates are also set to debate on sub-themes, such as organising and uniting for quality public education in Africa, after the UN sets the new Sustainable Development Goals, to be announced in September; advocating for national and regional investment in quality public education; strengthening and consolidating teachers’ trade union unity; and trade union rights and obligations in the education sector in Africa.

Women’s and girl’s education under the spotlight

The conference was preceded by a women’s roundtable on 2 February, and an engaging workshop on diversity and inclusion in quality education. A presentation by Dr Victoria Kisaaakye, Regional Programs Coordinator for HIV & Health Education UNESCO Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA), focused on the Ministerial Commitment on sexual education and health for youth in ESA. After her presentation, participants worked in small groups to discuss how education unions in this region could contribute to efforts to hold the Ministers and their governments accountable for implementing their commitment.

The conference, which runs from 4-6 February, is being attended by more than 450 delegates and observers, representing 52 countries, 130 teachers and education workers’ organisations from Africa, Europe and North America, Global Union Federations, as well as education stakeholders and governmental and non-governmental organisations. Unfortunately, the Ebola crisis has prevented member unions from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea from traveling to Nairobi.