Higher Education Regional Conference in Djibouti in 2017 @UNESCO

The importance of Higher Education is explicitly stipulated in Target 4.3 in SDG 4 in promoting quality tertiary education for all including universities. UNESCO provides technical support to 13 Member States in Eastern Africa to review higher education strategies and policies in order to improve equitable access to quality higher education and enhance mobility and accountability. African Higher education systems are at varying degrees of development both in terms of their capacity to respond to the increasing demand for higher education due to the youth bulge and the quality and relevance of their programs. Moreover, the magnitude of the financial burden to expand access and improve quality at the same time is such that very few countries in Africa can afford to go it alone. Only robust cooperation frameworks can help individual countries, more particularly those with the weakest systems, to develop their systems without overstretching their resources.

The UNESCO’s strategy for higher education in the Eastern African Region consists of promoting intercountry and sub-regional cooperation in Higher Education in Eastern African countries with the view to promoting recognition of studies, certificates, diplomas, degrees and mobility of students and faculty. In so doing, the strategy seeks to create major systemic changes in the structure and content of higher education so that it can help countries develop common strategic frameworks for addressing common and pressing developmental issues in science, climate change, peace and security.

In this context, UNESCO is focusing on two interrelated initiatives: (i) the ratification and implementation of the Addis Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States and (ii) the follow-up to the recommendation made at the Conference on Higher Education, Policy and Research: Quality and Future Challenges for East Africa and the Indian Ocean organized by UNESCO in May 2017 to promote intercountry and regional cooperation on science and climate change, peace and security, and ICTs. In the conference in Djibouti, 13 Eastern African Member States of UNESCO discussed 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, 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 UNESCO National Commissions and youth representatives.

Moreover, a workshop on Higher Education for literacy and life-long learning took place in Nairobi, Kenya in June 2017. Delegates from Kenya, Ethiopia and Nigeria made an agreement to tackle literacy issues through Higher Education. The agreement also facilitates inclusive and quality education and life-long learning for all including marginalized populations such minor ethnic groups, the disabled and girls. Additionally, participants also highlighted that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), especially mobile technology can be used to enhance youth and adult literacy in the region. This sub-regional workshop was hosted by UNESCO Regional Office Nairobi in collaboration with UNESCO Institute for Lifelong learning (UIL) UNESCO Regional Office Abuja and University of Nairobi.

Related Links:

Conference on Higher Education, Policy and Research: Quality and Future Challenges for East Africa and the Indian Ocean

Mobilizing higher education to fast-track literacy and lifelong learning in Sub-Saharan Africa

Capacity Building at the University of Rwanda to foster Distance Education and ELearning Growth



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