Laying the Foundations to Achieve Education for All
UNESCO, in collaboration with UNICEF, hosted a workshop on early learning assessments on 27 and 28 July 2016, in Dakar, Senegal.
Measuring early learning quality and outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa is decisive in yielding data that inform policy decisions, as well as classroom practices and quality learning environments for young children.
A Regional Technical Workshop within the context of the Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (MELQO) initiative - led by UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank and Brookings Institution- laid the foundation for a rich discussion on the importance of measuring early learning in pre-primary, in advancing target 4.2 of Sustainable Development Goal 4, pertaining to early childhood care and education.
Prioritising early childhood development within SDG framework: Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 target 4.2 on “ensuring that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education” calls for a holistic understanding of child development that requires inter-sectoral collaboration and interdisciplinary, multi-partner approaches that include families and communities.
The workshop was inaugurated by UNESCO’s Regional Director in Dakar, Ms. Ann-Therese Ndong Jatta and UNICEF’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mr. Manuel Fontaine, who both stressed the need to work collectively and help countries translate target 4.2 into national-level action.
With a wide range of civil society partners, experts, practitioners and government representatives, the meeting highlighted the need for greater political engagement and investment on early childhood care and education. The experiences of Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Togo, through UNICEF’s West African Early Learning Assessment (ELA) and the Measuring Early Learning Quality and Outcomes (MELQO) initiative, demonstrated that designing and implementing early learning measurement that matters for policy change should be nationally-driven and conducive to capacity development.
An opportunity for better coordination
This Workshop came at a critical juncture as countries are in the process of setting national priorities on early childhood care and education, in line with SDG4-Education 2030. In a region with a considerable number of out-of-school children, and with diversities in terms of quality of pre-primary education and service provision, countries, particularly those from West and Central Africa, are in headway when it comes to measuring early learning outcomes.
Yet, coordination remains a vital aspect in ensuring quality measurements. Participants discussed ways regional mechanisms for coordination can facilitate capacity building and knowledge sharing and draw lessons learnt from national experiences as well as regional measurement programmes, such as the Programme for the Analysis Education Systems of CONFEMEN countries (PASEC), the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Education Quality (SACMEQ) and the citizen-led assessments led by the People’s Action Network (PALNetwork) in several African countries.
The West and Central Africa Regional Coordination group for SDG-4 which has recently set-up a thematic sub Group on teaching and learning (the Teaching and Learning Network of educators for Transformation” TALENT) is called to support knowledge sharing and capacity building on these issues.
Please contact Mrs. Mariana Kitsiona (m.kitsiona(at)unesco.org) for any additional information about the MELQO workshop and Mrs. Valérie Djioze-Gallet (v.djioze(at)unesco.org) additional information on the TALENT.
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