UNESCO Assistant Director-General discusses progress towards Education for All in Africa

On 8-14 July, the Assistant Director-General made official visits to three African countries, where he met with education Ministers and other senior officials, and opened the Second Eastern Africa High-Level Forum on Education for All (EFA).

The Assistant Director-General’s first stop was in Uganda, the country fondly known as the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Meeting with the Hon. Jessica Alupo Epel, Minister of Education and Sport and her senior managers, the Assistant Director-General commended the country on the significant progress it has made towards achieving the EFA goals (EFA End of Decade Assessment Report), reflecting the government’s commitment to improving access to schooling. Discussions then turned to the challenge of raising quality in education, with the Assistant Director-General announcing UNESCO’s support through the Capacity development for EFA programme, which will focus on teachers.

The Assistant Director-General took the opportunity to visit a number of leading educational institutions in Kampala together with the Minister, including: Nakawa Business, Technical, Vocational and Educational Institute – which has benefited from UNESCO support to its information and communication technology programme through the Japanese Funds-in-Trust – Makerere University and Makerere University College, a UNESCO Associated Schools Project secondary school.

The next stop was the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the Assistant Director-General met with Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon; the Minister of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education, H.E. Maker Mwangu Famba; the Minister of Higher and University Education, H.E. Bonaventure Chelo Lotsima; the Minister of Social Affairs responsible for literacy and non-formal education, H.E. Charles Nawej Mundele; the Minister of Labour, H.E. Modeste Bahati; and senior education officials. The Assistant Director-General applauded the government’s decision to raise significantly the proportion of the national budget allocated to education, which has generated a significant increase in the number of children and adolescents enrolled in school. He also praised the step taken by the government to pay teachers directly via electronic means. Remaining challenges include 7 million out-of-school children and adolescents, adult literacy, quality and increasing participation in technical and vocational education and training.

While in Kinshasa, the Assistant Director-General also met with the United Nations Resident Representative and development partners, and visited the Institut national de préparation professionnel.

The final leg of the Assistant Director-General’s mission was the Republic of Congo, which began with a meeting of the three main Ministers responsible for education: the Minister of Higher Education, H.E. Georges Moyen – also Head of the National Commission for UNESCO – the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and Literacy, H.E. Elo Mampouya Mantsone; and the Minister responsible for technical and vocational education and training, H.E. Serge Blaise Zoniaba. The Assistant Director-General commended the government on its decision to make 2013 the “year of education” as well as the official removal of tuition fees in schools and the decision to recruit professional teachers to replace the many volunteers. Challenges include unequal delivery and quality – in particular, the need to improve teacher training.

On 13 July, the Assistant Director-General accompanied the Director-General, on an official visit to the Republic of Congo, to meet with the President of the Republic and to the launch of a UNESCO project to train primary and secondary school teachers.

While in Brazzaville, the Assistant Director-General visited the Ecole normale supérieure and the Campus numérique, and attended the opening ceremony of the Festival pan-africain de musique.

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