09.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

Final Press release: Conference on Higher Education, Policy and Research

Conference on Higher Education, Policy and Research highlights pressing challenges in Science and Climate Change, Information and Communication Technology and Peace and Security in the framework of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development

From 2 to 4 May 2017, thirteen Eastern African Member States of UNESCO gathered in Djibouti to participate in a conference on higher education, its challenges and role in advancing science, climate change resilience, peace and human security and ICTs for development in the region. The conference was opened by the President of Djibouti H. E. Ismail Omar Guelleh.

A video message by the President of Mauritius H.E. Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakir followed by a message of the Assistant-Director General for Education of UNESCO, Mr Qian Tang, were shown. Mr Tang reiterated the important role of higher education and research as a means to implement the new agenda on education – Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4), but also the important role that higher education institutions have to follow through all the 17 SDGs.

The conference, jointly organized by UNESCO and the government of Djibouti, brought together ministries of higher education, universities, tertiary education institutions, representatives from the African Union, United Nations entities, representatives from the National Commissions and youth representatives.

At the closing ceremony chaired by Dr. Nabil Mohamed Ahmed, Minister of Higher Education and Research of Djibouti, participants confirmed recommendations on the ratification and implementation of the Addis Ababa Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States, and regional cooperation on science and climate change, peace and security, and ICTs. The President of Djibouti HE Ismail Omar Guelleh accepted to serve as the spokesperson in advocating for increased investment in higher education science and technology for sustainable development in the region. Djibouti will also lead the ratification process of the Addis Ababa Convention and invite all countries in the region to ratify it by the end of October 2017.

With regard to the role of higher education in addressing issues of science and climate change, peace and security as well as ICTs, the participants have reached consensus on the following recommendations:

1) Establish a center of excellence in Djibouti under the auspices of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research to enable Member States in the region to strengthen cooperation and improve partnerships for innovative research and Climate change adaptation and mitigation. It was agreed, firstly, to identify existing capacities and then to proceed with the drafting of a project proposal for funding;

2) Develop interdisciplinary courses bringing together social sciences and natural sciences with a view to institutionalizing and mainstreaming issues of peace, security and gender across the university system in collaboration with research networks such as the Greater Horn Horizon Forum (GHHF), the Council for the Development Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the West Africa Institute for Regional Integration (WAI);

3) Establish mechanisms for dialogue among national governments, regional bodies and researchers to contribute to the development of national and regional policies on peace and security;

4) Create a regional cross-border consortium of Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) systems in enhancing accessible ODeL practices (including for people with disabilities and learning difficulties), mutualize resources through Open Education Resources and pooling human resources and technical resources;

5) Establish a joint research agenda in ICT in education in the Eastern Africa region including publications in open access journals and presentations during conferences on the subject.

These recommendations will be implemented in partnership with UN entities that participated in the conference such as the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the African Union. The African Virtual University (AVU) will also play a critical role in building upon existing science and technology networks in the region.

The conference gave a platform for young people from the region to make their voice heard by reiterating the role of youth as important actors in development through innovation. A Youth Statement was presented to ministers and policy makers who listened and encouraged youth to harness science and technology, knowledge and ICT skills for innovation.

The conference was an opportunity for Eastern Africa Member States and stakeholders to reaffirm their commitment to key global and regional frameworks that put higher education at the forefront of the development agenda. Such frameworks include the Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all, the 2063 Agenda African Union Agenda and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) for transforming the continent’s human capital and natural resources.

In a video message to the conference participants, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Africa remarked that the transformation of higher education system has already begun across Africa. Significant progress has been made, but much still need to be done and UNESCO will support the acceleration of the pace of reforms in higher education.

Contact person: Ms. Gaia Paradiso: g.paradiso@unesco.org

Additional documentation:

Final Statement (EN)

Final Statement (FR)

Youth Statement (EN)

Youth Statement (FR)

Concept Note of the Conference






Facebook Page: UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa

Check our Flickr Album with a selection of photos from the Conference

Press Coverage

Education experts converge in Djibouti to discuss emerging issues, Africa Live- 2nd May 2017

Djibouti summit raises concern about illiteracy among women, on Africa Live 3rd May 2017

Youths demand inclusion in policy-making at Djibouti summit, on Africa Live, 4th May 2017


You can find the French version of the Final Press Release, by clicking here.

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