ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL HOLDS SPECIAL POLICY DIALOGUE ON “EDUCATION CHALLENGES IN AFRICA AND LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
7 July 2011
The Economic and Social Council this morning held a special policy dialogue on education challenges in Africa and the least developed countries.
Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, introducing the dialogue, said the theme of this special policy dialogue was timely. Education was one of the many challenges facing the world’s poorest nations but lack of sufficient education would make the long term tasks of addressing all other challenges even more daunting. The time had come to develop a wider and better vision for education, to devise innovative approaches to overcome existing and emerging challenges, and to learn from successful policies, strategies and interventions which had worked elsewhere.
Cheick Sidi Diarra, Under-Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, acting as moderator of the dialogue, said education was a worthy pursuit in and of itself, but it also impacted sustainable development and economic growth. Cognizant of the importance of education, least developed countries had worked hard to improve education. There had been significant achievement. Despite this progress, attendance in Africa lagged behind the rest of the world. This had far-reaching implications for growth and development, and limited the competiveness of African and least developed economies.
Sam K. Ongeri, Minister of Education of Kenya, speaking as a panellist, said that African countries, despite considerable progress in recent years, lagged behind in achieving Education for All and Millennium Development Goals. Education was critical to determine the quality and magnitude of Africa’s development, innovation, science and technology. Despite improvements on access, quality and equity of education, many challenges remained.
Kalidou Diallo, Minister of Education of Senegal, speaking as a panellist, said while trends in education were particularly encouraging across sub-Saharan Africa, countries still faced major challenges, including high illiteracy, gender and rural-urban inequity and current drop-out, repetition and low quality education rates. This required targeted strategies in difficult-to-reach areas, direct financing, community participation and development projects to reinforce autonomy, accountability and responsibility in schools.
Essossimna Lagzim-Balouki, Minister of Literacy and Primary and Secondary Education of Togo, speaking as a panellist, stressed that education was at the heart of development concerns in all States and should be addressed closely in order to achieve Millennium Development Goals. Educational needs in African countries were similar, even though disparities were enormous within and among countries.
H. Danisinghani, Chief Technical Officer, Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Mauritius, speaking as a panellist, said that it was time to develop a wider vision for education that expanded beyond primary education. Most young people received skills training in the informal sector. There was an increased demand for skill development and different types of skills were needed to achieve these objectives and the private sector and civil society organizations were major stakeholders and contributors to education.
Elizabeth King, Director of Education, Word Bank, speaking as a panellist, said that in order to prioritize learning in education, education systems should measure learning outcomes. It must be recognized that education reform was about changing behaviours of actors and stakeholders involved in education. Governments should invest early, invest smartly and invest for all.
In the discussion, speakers said that links between literacy rates of parents and the ability of parents to send children to school were strong. Governments needed to assure free education, but also textbooks, meal programmes, and other support. Enrollment in primary education, the quality of education and equality of access to school had improved, but many challenges remained, for example 25 per cent of children in least developed countries were not in school. A strong link also existed between the challenges of food security and education. A number of important challenges remained, such as the lack of financing for education in rural areas and the isolation of schools in rural areas; the lack of security, motivation and pedagogical support for teachers in rural areas, teachers’ and students’ absenteeism, as well as other challenges for young children in rural areas. There was no scarcity of political will in Africa in terms of assuring education. The question was how to overcome the many challenges. Ministers responsible for education were seen by colleagues as receiving the largest proportion of the budget, but a huge percentage was not allocated to the core business of teaching and learning. However, at the end of the year, ministers of education were assessed by pass rates and other basic evaluations of education. Ministers were not assessed by number of children immunized, fed or other activities funding was allocated to. A fund to support non-educational activities in school should be established so ministries of education could focus on teaching and learning.
Speaking in the interactive discussion were India, Nepal, Denmark, Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Lesotho, Bangladesh, Germany, Malawi, Norway and Morocco.
ECOSOC will reconvene at 3 p.m. this afternoon to resume its High-Level Segment and hear a key-note address by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a statement by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and will then continue with the general debate on implementing agreed goals and commitments in regard to education, and the current global and national trend and challenges and their impact on education.
Special Policy Dialogue on “Education challenges in Africa and in the least developed countries”
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE, President of the Economic and Social Council, said the theme of this special policy dialogue was timely. Education was one of the many challenges facing the world’s poorest nations but lack of sufficient education would make the long term tasks of addressing all other challenges even more daunting. Significant strides had been made. In sub-Saharan Africa, enrolment rates had risen by nearly one-third and gender parity had improved. However, retention in school remained a problem and 31 million children in sub-Saharan Africa remained unschooled. Quality and relevance posed major difficulties. The content of education needed to match the requirements of the job market. The brain drain from Africa continued to be acute. The time had come to develop a wider and better vision for education, to devise innovative approaches to overcome existing and emerging challenges, and to learn from successful policies, strategies and interventions which had worked elsewhere.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA, Under-Secretary and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Advisor on Africa, acting as moderator of the special policy dialogue, said the convening of this high-policy dialogue attested to the instrumental role of education in development, particularly in Africa and least developed countries. Education was a worthy pursuit in and of itself, but it also impacted sustainable development and economic growth. Cognizant of the importance of education, least developed countries had worked hard to improve education. There had been significant achievement. Progress in universal primary enrollment had been remarkable. The total number of students receiving secondary, university, technical and vocational education had also expanded. Despite this progress, attendance in Africa lagged behind the rest of the world. Basic literacy and numeracy skills needed for everyday life were also lacking. Gender parity in education was far from secured. Inadequate supply of skills in African countries and least developed countries created a mismatch in skills and the demands of the labour market. This had far-reaching implications for growth and development, and limited the competiveness of African and least developed economies.
Statements by the Panellists
SAM K. ONGERI, Minister of Education of Kenya, said that African countries, despite considerable progress in recent years, lagged behind in achieving the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals. The Conference of African Ministers of Education, guided by the Plan of Action for the Second Decade on Education in Africa, believed that education was critical to determine the quality and magnitude of Africa’s development, innovation, science and technology. ECCE had recently included it as an area of Focus in the Plan of Action for the Second Decade on Education. Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were off the ECCE targets, accounting for one fifth of the world’s children. A third of children in Kenya, for example, suffered from malnutrition and 76 per cent of under-fives suffered from Vitamin A deficiency. Concerning universal primary education, there were regional disparities among and within countries on enrolment, gender parity and completion rates in primary education; despite progress, 10 million children dropped-out of school each year in Sub-Saharan Africa. Demand for secondary education was also growing, but in many African countries, education did not provide essential life skills leaving graduates vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
Adult literacy was an important determinant of children’s access to education and opportunities while illiteracy trapped people in poverty and diminished opportunities; Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia accounted for 73 per cent of the global adult literacy deficit and while literacy rates were increasing, progress was too slow to counteract population growth. Gender equity and equality in education, training and research contributed to economic growth and sustainable development; yet only 27 countries had reached gender parity in primary education by 2010 and labour markets were characterized by wide inequality in employment and remuneration, especially in managerial positions. Radical shifts in policies and priorities were necessary in order to achieve the goals by 2015. Critical challenges pertaining to quality of education such as teacher shortages and low student learning achievements remained. Interventions for increasing access and enhancing quality of education and training, quality of infrastructure and sustainable financing were necessary, but important constrains remained within Finance Ministries. Ensuring quality and relevance of education; improving retention rates and transition rates; improving management, governance, transparency and accountability performance; providing health, sanitation and nutrition for learners; addressing conflict situations and natural disasters through disaster preparedness and provision of peace education; and reducing the digital divide and youth unemployment were all needed through cost-effective measures. Furthermore, reaching marginalized groups and poverty pockets; developing enabling legal frameworks through innovative policies; and mobilizing additional sources of funding for education and teacher recruitment through public private partnerships, coordinated programmes, clear strategies and targeted intervention would be needed. The private sector and other stakeholders could contribute by supporting resource mobilization, governance and accountability, supervision of service delivery and providing technical assistance.
KALIDOU DIALLO, Minister of Education of Senegal, said that he would provide an analysis of education in Africa. Between 1994 and 2004, trends in education were particularly encouraging across sub-Saharan Africa. School attendance rose from 79 per cent to 91 per cent. Even so, Africa had to confront major challenges in meeting its goals for education by 2015. Despite significant results, of the 77 million out of school children worldwide, half of them lived in Africa. Globally, the average person had attended school for eleven years, in Africa the average was 7.6 years. The literacy rate of people 15 years old and above was 61 per cent, significantly below the world average of 82 per cent. The amount of available education was insufficient to produce a cycle of sustainable development. Availability was unequally distributed. Girls made up 53 per cent of all children excluded from education. Gender disparities were more marked in secondary and higher education. The most serious discrimination affected rural areas, which were twice as excluded as urban areas. This required targeted strategies for boys and girls living in difficult-to-reach areas. Quality education was another source of grave concern. Less than two-thirds of pupils completed primary school. Africa had the highest levels in the world of repeat and drop-out students which was linked to the low quality of education, shortages of teachers, qualified staff and teaching materials, insufficient teaching time and insufficiencies in assessment systems. Thus, direct financing, community participation and development projects were required to reinforce autonomy, accountability and responsibility in schools.
Teaching language was a particularly important issue in Africa. Bilingual teaching produced better performances of pupils. The challenge of relevance was also of particular concern. Skills and knowledge learned could be called into question in regards to the needs of the economy, development, environmental degradation and democratic citizenship. Schools and universities should maintain a productive relationship with the economy and social areas so that skills learned at school were linked to problems of the economy and society at large. The challenges of access, equity, quality and relevance were factors and prerequisite for success based on lessons learned. Strong political will was needed to launch and maintain efficient reforms and innovation that would properly allocate budgetary resources. The development and reinforcement of capacities in order to enlighten political decision-making and to plan implementation and assessment of the process of implementation should be priorities. Effective exterior assistance should be based on domestic policy that targeted essential needs and gaps, was flexible and productive, and built capacity. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization had pointed out that lack of assistance could undermine projects underway to educate the 32 million children currently out of school in Africa.
ESSOSSIMA LEGZIM-BALOUKI, Minister of Literacy and Primary and Secondary Education of Togo, said that Jean-Jacques Danton had said “after bread, education is the first need of human beings.” Education was at the heart of development concerns in all States and should be addressed closely in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Recalling the statement made by Erik Solheim, he reiterated that education must be the first, second and third priority of States that wished to make progress in economic and social terms. During the discussions in Lomé, in April 2011, African States had discussed strategies in order to achieve education for all and the Millennium Development Goals. Educational needs in African countries were similar, even though disparities were enormous within and among countries. No child should be excluded from the formal educational system. Inclusive education was the priority in Togo; among many quantitative and qualitative challenges were lack of human resources and teaching materials, curricula inadequate for promoting socio-economic development, drop-out rates, lack of training and continuous education for teachers, and regional disparities, both in capacity and distribution of teachers. In order to address these challenges participation from all sectors of the population was necessary. A participatory approach was approved in 2009 by the Council of Ministers; it prioritized the achievement of universal primary education; improvement of access and equity at other educational levels in function of available resources and according to developmental needs; and improving the quality at all levels by eliminating costs and fees, building classrooms to allow schools to complete the primary education cycle, courses for newly recruited teachers and continuous training for teachers, text books and teaching materials.
Togo tasked its Ministry of Literacy and Primary and Secondary Education in 2008 to reduce illiteracy to 21 per cent by 2020, developing new approaches on the basis of existing models and implementing new partnerships with non-governmental actors and programmes including young drop-out women. Positive results included increased net levels of schooling from 73.4 per cent in 2006 to 88 per cent in 2009 after school fees were eliminated in 2008; gender parity reached a 0.96 per cent rate in 2009; illiteracy was reduced from 83 per cent in 1970 to 43.1 per cent in 2006; a functional structure of schools was developed across the national territory; training for teachers who lacked adequate training was provided, on the basis of new training centers; promoting private teaching at all levels; strengthening of community participation; access to primary education for 91 per cent of children; and progressive decentralization of education and strengthening of the quantity and quality of educators. This progress had been achieved on the basis of the generous financial and technical assistance received by Togo; in particular, Ms. Lagzim-Balouki thanked the board of the Fast Track Initiative for their substantial contribution.
Mr. D. H. DANSINGHANI, Chief Technical Officer, Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Mauritius, said that the lapses but also the positive achievements in education had been discussed. Previously, efforts to improve education had concentrated on the primary sub-sector, but it was time to develop a wider vision for education that expanded beyond primary education. Most young people received skills training in the informal sector. There was an increased demand for skill development. If countries wanted to achieve the objectives of national development strategies, they needed to expand post-primary education. Different types of skills were needed to achieve these objectives. The transition from school to work was a major problem in African countries. When leaving secondary school, it took three to four years for individual to get jobs. This was a constraint to the employment and status of young people. Specificities of the labour market needed to be examined because each one posited and demanded different types of approaches. The right kind of capacity, including institutional capacity, to make things happen and for planning on education, was lacking. Countries were not immune to external shocks, such as the financial, economic, food and economic shocks. It was difficult to maintain macroeconomic stability. The employability factor was crucial in this. The adaptability and flexibility of people needed to be enhanced, as a career for life no longer existed.
Mauritius was lucky because it had been able to provide free primary school since the 1940s, and from the 1970s on, free secondary school. Continuity in education policies was needed irrespective of changes in political leadership. There had been a very strong commitment to education regardless of political changes in Mauritius. The approach sometimes varied, but the targets always remained. Equity, relevance, quality, access and achievement were the pillars of education in Mauritius. The importance of technical and vocational education had been discussed in depth. The traditional focus needed to be altered. Market needs should be addressed. Unfortunate stigma was attached to vocational and technical education. In Mauritius, different institutions were created to take on different tasks in this regard. Mauritius aimed to create a knowledge economy, which posed certain challenges. High fees prevented some students from obtaining higher-level education. The target was to have one graduate per family. The private sector and civil society organizations were major stakeholders and contributors to education. The private sector, which increasingly employed corporate social responsibility in its activities, was being encouraged by Mauritius to contribute to the education sector. The state, however, always retained its right to regulate.
ELIZABETH KING, Director of Education, Word Bank, said that the World Bank worked on a 10-year education strategy, and indicated that many of the points made by fellow panelists were echoed by this strategy. As many of the Ministers of Education had suggested, improvements in expanding access to education had not been matched by learning outcomes. In several countries, high enrollment rates coexisted with high rates of students who did not have basic literacy and numeracy skills. In order to prioritize learning in education, education systems should measure learning outcomes. What produced learning and what explained the existing learning gaps? It was often assumed that quality inputs, such as teachers and textbooks, were directly related to learning outcomes. Recent evidence showed, however, that only 15 to 18 per cent of the learning gaps could be explained in terms of input or input quality gaps. It must be recognized that education systems were complex human organizations, and thus educational reform must be about changing behaviors of actors and stakeholders involved in education: central and local governments; public and private schools, private providers at large; and communities, families and students themselves. These three sectors were affected by enabling factors such as the economy, leadership and the policy environment; they were related to each other through accountability mechanisms.
The central accountability issue concerning education must be the principle of learning for all. Education strategies, therefore, must prioritize the quality of the policy framework and the enabling environment, the quality of policy implementation and investments. At the same time, the readiness of children to learn, as the Minister of Kenya referred to early childhood education, should also include better childhood development, including feeding, parenting, and other enabling factors. Children should remain at the centre of the learning process. The education system was also about the involvement of family, households and communities at large, and the choices they made in the context of constraints. Ms. King urged countries to invest early, smartly and for all. Investing early was important, given that if children arrived at school suffering from malnutrition and stunting, the learning process would be hindered; investing smartly was necessary in order to develop a knowledge base for effective policy making; and finally investing for all implied addressing the multiple sources of disadvantage, gender poverty, ethno-linguistic groups and location. On this basis it would be possible to make learning for all a reality, in Africa, and other places in the developing world.
VIKRAM SAHAY (India) said he wished to address concerns from Kenya regarding legislative frameworks. In India, a legislative framework was established in 2002 and it took seven years to be implemented. This had made a significant difference. This legislation was needed to implement the constitutional provision on the right to education. Regarding the large number of children out of school, such children should be brought into school, admitted to a level of school aligned with their age group, but provided with appropriate help and training to integrate them into this level of school. This required efforts from civil society and the government. Because children were not in school, they were working. Links between literacy rates of parents and the ability of parents to send children to school were strong. Governments needed to assure free education, but also textbooks, meal programmes, and other support. In India, there was an insufficient number of teachers and thus India had given people training to allow them to acquire accreditation. Teacher testing also augmented quality. Related to financial commitment, India had earmarked certain amounts of taxes for elementary education.
DAYAN CHANDRA ACHARYA (Nepal) made reference to the conference on least developed countries recently convened in Istanbul. Many of the issues discussed in the Council had been talked about at this conference. Sustainable and inclusive growth was dependent on capacity building. Enrollment in primary education, the quality of education and equality of access to school had improved. Many challenges remained. Twenty-five per cent of children in least developed countries were not in school. Education needed to be considered in a comprehensive manner. This was a reference to vocational and technical training, formal and informal education and the strengthening of social programmes. Strong national measures were needed but strong and comprehensive international support for inclusive education, employment-based training, educational infrastructure and improving secondary as well as higher levels of education was also needed. Abolishing school fees, improving teachers, expanding the access of girls and boys in rural areas and providing mid-day meals required resources.
THOMAS NIKOLAJ HANSEN (Denmark) inquired how it would be possible to measure access in the case of children with disabilities. Following the presentations by the World Bank and Ms. Esther Duflo, it was quite clear that there was a need to prioritize and many Ministers had presented a diverse investment menu; in this context, Denmark inquired how would it be possible to invest smartly. Finally, at the local level, what was going on in the classroom and what accountability was there between teachers and communities, in particular, in the case of decentralized educational systems?
LILA RATSIFANDRIHAMANANA, of the Food and Agriculture Organization, welcomed the reports of progress on education in Africa and urged the Council to be more attentive to education in rural areas and the population of rural areas in Africa. Eighty per cent of those children out-of-school were in rural areas in Africa, a large number of children suffered from hunger, many of them in Africa, and 8.7 per cent of farmers were illiterate. A strong link existed between the challenges of food security and education. A number of important challenges remained, such as the lack of financing for education in rural areas and the isolation of schools in rural areas; the lack of security, motivation and pedagogical support for teachers in rural areas, teachers’ and students’ absenteeism, as well as other challenges for young children in rural areas. The Food and Agriculture Organization had partnered with the United Nations Children’s Fund to launch educational programmes in rural areas, including agricultural technical schools and teachers training. Finally, more innovative approaches, such as ambulatory libraries and laboratories as well as promoting the access of rural areas to new technologies and social media as tools for teaching and learning, were necessary.
ANN T. NDONG-JATTA, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said there was no scarcity of political will in Africa in terms of assuring education. The question was how to overcome the many challenges. UNESCO had focused on gaps in providing education. It was quite clear that Africa had inherited a western model in which governments were unable to reach all of the pupils. Education had to be considered on a continuum. Concrete capacity responses supported by UNESCO included addressing the issue of quality by providing post-graduate training for curriculum development. The issues of capacity gaps in areas of policy planning, monitoring and evaluation were supported by international donors. UNESCO had started training evaluators in West Africa. Teachers were at the heart of quality. Some bilateral aid, provided by Germany, Norway, France and others, for example, had put emphasis on training. UNESCO had supported dialogue and planning at the national level. Education could not be delivered solely through schools, there were multiple learning pathways. One laptop per child programmes had enhanced education in many countries. In addressing financing gaps, governments had to be strategic and innovative. UNESCO asked what policies and strategies existed to guarantee that the children excluded from education, the individuals that dropped out and failed out of school received quality education. UNESCO inquired how governments could invest more in innovative programmes without fear for economic concerns, particularly in considering needs related to young people’s employment.
Ms. M. KHAKETLA (Lesotho) said Lesotho supported Kenya’s proposal to establish a global fund for education. Ministers responsible for education were seen by colleagues as receiving the largest proportion of the budget, but a huge percentage was not allocated to the core business of teaching and learning. However, at the end of the year, ministers of education were assessed by pass rates and other basic evaluations of education. Ministers were not assessed by number of children immunized, fed or other activities funding was allocated to. A fund to support non-educational activities in school should be established so ministries of education could focus on teaching and learning.
The Representative of United States, asked the panel for some bold African examples. First, concerning readiness of children to learn, were there any initiatives targeting parental or family contexts, for instance in adult literacy or other areas, which had been noted to produce significant results. Secondly, concerning quality of teachers and recruitments, were there any particular examples of good practices or positive examples?
ABDUL AWAL MAJUMDER (Bangladesh) said that early-cycle or pre-primary education would be introduced in Bangladesh next year and many teachers would be recruited and trained. In this context, Bangladesh asked the panel whether they had any significant examples from Africa, in particular in rural areas. In Bangladesh teachers were recruited locally through a national competitive examination, but many of them preferred to stay in the developed areas and did not want to go to rural or remote areas, were there any relevant experiences or examples from Africa on how to deal with this problem.
SYLVIA SCHMITT (Germany) said that Germany had learned a lot from the presentation made, particularly regarding the informal market as emerging as a major factor in the employment market. Lacking in all this reflection and explanation was the relationship between ministries. Germany asked if education needed to be addressed in a broader context.
CHARLES FRINGHTON MAZINGA (Malawi) agreed with the statement made by the World Bank regarding health and food as enhancing education and access to education. The World Food Programme reached 23 million children in Africa. School feeding programmes should be considered as helping to achieve educational objectives. Malawi had benefited greatly from such programmes. Several policies had been used to mainstream school health and nutrition. It was difficult for hungry children to learn. Many children did not attend school to work in agriculture. School feeding provided a strong incentive for families to send their children to school. A good policy to mainstream nutrition in education plans was needed. Procurement of food for schools should be based in the zones surrounding the school, providing economic benefits for local communities.
SYLVI BRATTEN (Norway) said that a recent report from UNESCO pointed out that a large part of humanitarian assistance was dedicated to education, particularly in the context of emergencies and inquired how resolutions in this context could be better implemented.
LAKIA EL MIDAOUI (Morocco) noted that many children out of school were in rural areas and many families remained concerned with food availability. In this context, how could an optimal level of school enrollment be reached? Concerning the many references to privatization of the education sector, how would it be possible to reconcile privatizing and liberalizing schooling with the promotion of better access to education?
KALIDOU DIALLO, Minister of Education of Senegal, said that young children’s enrollment in school was currently 9 per cent in Senegal, while in 2000 it was only 2 per cent. There had been significant concern related to the number of very young children attending school, and the Government was trying to come up with structures to take care of children and follow mothers as soon as birth. The Government was trying to ensure the maximum supply of higher education, and Senegal had provided a sufficient supply and funded up to 80 per cent of educational costs. Parents had a choice and could choose between public and private schools, should they have the resources. Some parents chose private or religious schools which freed resources for other educational purposes. Seventy-five per cent of teachers in Senegal were recruited from among those with a baccalaureate while twenty-five per cent were recruited among individuals with a brevé. The goal was to have a minimum number of teachers with only baccalaureates. Senegal had launched a competition for this purpose.
ESSOSSIMA LEGZIM-BALOUKI, Minister of Literacy and Primary and Secondary Education of Togo, said that in Togo, early child care was better developed in urban areas but was present in rural areas as well. Training centres and literacy centres had been established to provide education to adults and young people, particularly young girls and women. In Togo, there was national recruitment of teachers conducted in cooperation between several ministries. There was a problem with teacher recruitment in that teachers wanted to stay in urban areas. Togo was establishing incentive programmes to entice teachers to go to rural areas. The readiness of children to learn was also a concern. Most parents, particularly in urban areas, hired coaches to help children after school, which was expensive. In rural zones, parents did not have the means for this. Teachers took on the responsibility to practice with children, particularly those who had difficulties, after school. Linkages between the Ministry of Education and other ministries were strong. The Ministry of Education received the biggest portion of the budget, but because this was allocated predominately to salaries, not much was left over for other basic educational goals. Two per cent of humanitarian aid was used for education and Togo had programmes and institutions in place to pursue its goals in education.
SAM K. ONGERI, Minister of Education of Kenya, responding to comments and questions, said that while it took India seven years to promulgate legislative agenda harmonizing a decentralized education system, Kenya had promulgated a new Constitution last June and already a task force was expected to deliver a report next week in order to indicate the current interaction between national and regional governments, contribute to align requirements at national and local levels, and to create an enabling legal framework for Government at the different levels to fulfill its mandate. A new education act would be necessary to follow up on the Constitution and further initiatives to develop curricula, school materials and quality of education and to measure learning outcomes in all countries. Responding to Denmark, Mr. Ongeri said that in order to measure the degree of access to education of children with special needs, Kenya was mainstreaming participation of children with disabilities into schools, giving parents and community incentives to include them and providing them with support. Concerning community involvement, school management committees had been tasked with the management of funds of the local schools, therefore it was important to build capacity at the local level. The aforementioned taskforce was also intended to inform on the best ways to develop capacity building initiatives to promote a sense of ownership among parents and stakeholders and to manage schools effectively, with the infrastructure, teaching staff and resources provided by the Government.
Mr. Ongeri said it would not be possible to establish a tax for education, but the global education fund might be a way forward towards alternative funding strategies. Parents wanted their children in school and the main obstacle remained socio-economic factors. More than 9.36 million children had access to primary school, a 59 per cent rise in the past five years. Additional work on rural education remained a goal since funds had not been allocated by the Finance Minister, but this was expected to be implemented soon. Home-grown food programmes for schools were an important mechanism for strengthening the feeling of ownership among local communities. Currently 1.2 million children received food, but difficult circumstances such as draught or famine presented challenges. Finally the escalating food prices were causing catastrophic consequences in the developing nations in Africa. The only way forward was to walk this road together, in order to address adequately the issues and challenges of education, having moved from access to quality, and further strengthening teaching staff’s capacity.
Mr. D.H DANSINGHANI, Chief Technical Officer, Minister of Education and Human Resources of Mauritius, said Mauritius had been training a number of teachers but Mr. Bunwaree saw a gap between teacher training and the situation in the classroom. Information learned from training institutions sometimes had to be un-learned in managing classrooms. On its own however, training could not bring about quality of education. Children with special education needs meant children with disabilities and children who learned at different paces. In reference to the latter, Mauritius had only started to work for these children in the last three years. There were schools for the deaf and schools for the blind. Mauritius had established a special relationship with Norway on this issue. In regards to early childhood education, Mauritius strongly believed in providing a basic foundation for children aged zero to three. Private providers were active in both these areas. There was a need for synergy between the different ministries and Mauritius had put emphasis on this. The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Women worked together on education in early childhood. In regard to private education, it was up to parents to decide.
ELIZABETH KING, Director of Education, World Bank, said synergies and cooperation were important. Private providers could still be financed and regulated by governments, ensuring a public role in private education. Brazil, Jamaica and the Philippines had programmes that could be learned from. There were examples of using existing providers and diagnostics to augment education. From the ages of zero to three, brain development was the most rapid. Education ministers could lead the way in understanding and augmenting early child development. It was difficult for ministries to work together but this was a question of leadership. Discussing multiple learning pathways was important because children not in school should also be considered. They also needed education.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA, Under-Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, summarizing and highlighting the different contributions of the panellists, said Mr. Ongeri addressed the challenges of educational programmes at all levels and provided recommendations concerning investments on early child school and increasing state investments in sustainable financing and programmers to increase access, recruitment of teachers, securing an enabling legal framework to protect right to education, sanitation measures and the need to address the digital divide, involve the private sector, and set up mechanisms to monitor the learning achievements. Mr. Diarra emphasized the challenges of quality, equitable challenges and the relevance of the curricula in achieving educational goals. There should be targeted strategies towards the most vulnerable, canteens, transfers of cash, more autonomy for different actors, further decentralization, local funding and local communities; transformational leadership bringing together different stakeholders; importance of national language and relevance to the job market; and external assistance must be more coordinated, including predictable empowering. Ms. Legzim-Balouki shared the experience of Togo and underlined the importance of training for teaching. Mr. Danisinghani emphasized the importance of moving post primary education as a basis for sustained growth and sustainable development, shifting towards soft skills and the need for further work on: access, equity, quality and educational achievement for all as part of an ongoing shift towards a knowledge based economy. Finally, Ms. King highlighted that more schooling did not translate into learning, and indicated that better mechanism were needed; besides a focus on input, changes in the behavior of stakeholders was also important. Governments should invest early, smartly and for all.
For use of the information media; not an official record