Link to the recording: Transforming Education Webinar
Globally, our education systems are in crisis. In Sub-saharan Africa, 45% of school-age children are out-of-school, this is made even worse with the Covid-19 pandemic and insecurity problems in many parts of the continent (UNICEF).
The conversation around educational transformation has been long due, especially with rapidly changing global dynamics and new challenges everyday ranging from environmental problems, cultural norms, poverty, insecurity to lack of access.
Organized by the FlexiSAF Foundation, this webinar was organized on Zoom, bringing together 10 young experts from 10 different African countries across diverse backgrounds in education, each of them sharing their experiences and views on what we need to do to bring about educational transformation in Africa. This webinar was held to raise awareness about educational issues and collect the recommendations of experts to translate them into action. It is long due to giving education the importance it deserves.
The webinar was aimed at the United Nations as a contribution to the transforming education summit #TES2022 being held at the United Nations headquarters.
The webinar was a global event, attended by 131 participants from 15 African countries, Europe and the USA.
The session was opened by the host and moderator, Amina Abubakar (Nigeria) who is also the Executive Director of FlexiSAF Foundation, a non-profit organization that empowers out-of-school children and youth with 21st century skills). Following introductions from participants and speakers, Amina introduced the FlexiSAF Foundation, shared the objectives of the webinar and read bios of the featured speakers.
According to Amina, the webinar had the following objectives:
- Raise awareness about the challenges of Education in Africa and the role everyday citizens play
- Get recommendations from young experts on the way forward for educational transformation
- Share the report with relevant stakeholders including the United Nations.
The speakers were young leaders, most of them in the education field who were carefully selected.
Rose Nyagwoka – Kenya
Rose Nyagwoka is a person living with disability (Deaf & Dumb). But despite that, she is resourceful, self-motivated, and result-driven with outstanding programme management expertise gained through working with international development organizations. She is proficient in disability mainstreaming, advocacy, capacity building, human resource management, developing tools to support regional strategic planning and programming, monitoring performance indicators, analyzing periodical financial reports, curriculum development, job placements, conducting organization capacity assessment and building, compiling and maintaining data-base.
The competency based curriculum in Kenya has helped children and schools to focus on their individual course of interest. It has made it easier for children to choose their career path and develop necessary skills which has made education costly because most learning requires materials that are not so affordable.
Kenya is giving a 21st century education and has taken up the dissemination of tablets and laptops to schools which has made a great difference in the education system.
However, there are very few schools for people who are differently abled in Kenya, regular schools are not accommodating of children with disabilities.
Although the United Nations pushes a lot on inclusive education yet there is no school that is completely inclusive of children with disabilities. “The United Nations should make this their agenda for the next 5 years to prioritize inclusive education especially for differently abled children.”
Gloria Anderson – Tanzania
Gloria Anderson is the Founder and Executive Director of Tanzania Enlightenment Development Innovation (TEDI) an NGO that focuses on improving the quality of education through integrating practical skills into the education systems in Tanzania through providing programs such as entrepreneurship-employability skills and digital literacy programs in which she launched the “OneComputerLabOneSchool” a project that aims at establishing computer labs in low resource public schools and equipping students and teachers with computer basic skills i.e.. e-learning and e-teaching skills through educational tools, e-libraries, and e-platforms.
The government established computer labs for public schools and provided capacity building for teachers. Globally, education is more of individualization than generalization and digitalization is the best way to transform education. However, digitalization in some African countries may not be feasible. In most African countries, while it’s important to provide quality education before going into digitalization because poor infrastructure, poor electricity supply, poor mobile networks and internet are major problems that need to be fixed, these problems should not hinder our efforts to digitalization because the world is going digital and we need to catch up. These problems can be also solved by implementing our already existing policies.
Donat Muqenga – Rwanda
Passionate about paradigm shifts in workplace, employability and entrepreneurship, Donat has spent his time working on policy and strategy to develop human workforce necessary for socio-economic transformation in Rwanda and Africa. His current role, as the Director at Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture, focuses on preparing the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders in conservation agriculture and addressing food security challenges. Working with the Rwanda Higher Education Council, Donat provided strategic advice and coordinated establishment and expansion of new universities, campuses and programs. Before, Donat was involved instrumentally in building Rwanda’s Sovereign Wealth Fund strategic relations including joining IFSWF—a global forum of sovereign wealth funds. And he participated in the consultation on and validation of Policies for Government-owned Companies.
Rwanda is intentional about investing in education where over 98% of children are enrolled in primary education. The government has created an environment in terms of policy formulation, strategy implementation and also being intentional in investing and making free education accessible from primary to secondary level. Rwanda has created an enabling learning environment for children with the help of private sectors and development partners which has intentionally transformed education.
Akua Oforiwa Darko – Ghana
Akua Oforiwa Darko is a multiple award winning Broadcast Journalist who has been working at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation,GBC, for the past eleven years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the Ghana Institute of Journalism. She is a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow and 2021.
MCBIRD (Media Capacity Building Initiative for Reporting on Disability) Fellow. Akua Oforiwa Darko reports on human interest stories with focus on women and children’s development, and environmental issues. To help empower women and the youth across Ghana and beyond, she started and established the Oforiwaa Inspires Foundation, OIF, which currently has three main projects namely, “Stolen Future Project”, “Pink and Blue Project” and the “Still A Woman Project”. As a Broadcast Journalist, her greatest priority in life is to serve humanity and use the media as a catalyst for change in all aspects of life.
A lack of equity and health in education are major problems in Ghana. A lack of access to education is hampering the development of education. In rural areas, children have limited or no access to basic learning tools such as well-equipped classrooms, computers, labs, playgrounds, among other things. Often, the teachers are often not qualified or do not turn up, leading to a poor quality of education. Health in education in terms of young girls being on their monthly flow, they usually have no access to sanitary towels or can not afford it. This has affected their learning because they’re forced to stay at home when it is the time of the month.
Makala Monga – Zambia
Makala Monga Sianagowa has more than 10 years of experience in social work education. Currently, Makala is a lecturer at Rusangu University, where she trains social workers to address a myriad of social problems in Zambia. With her students, she regularly visits prisons, orphanages, and hospice care centres to provide spiritual, moral, and material support.
Makala holds a bachelor’s degree with a double major in Social work and Accounting, a Master’s degree in Social Work from Silliman University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the Northern Caribbean University in Jamaica. She is committed to improving the well-being of vulnerable populations by empowering women, protecting young girls, reducing the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV), as well as securing the future of youth.
There is an increase in the establishment of universities; however, Zambia is facing a socioeconomic problem where tertiary education is not affordable which makes it difficult for students to access education. In Zambia, the government has increased access to primary education and has created a plan that public funded institutions can offer education for free for children from early years to 7th grade.
Covid-19 created a major setback for privately owned tertiary institutions, education wasn’t a priority for most people because they had to worry about their basic necessities including healthcare. During this period, most people became jobless and businesses were closed, which made it difficult for students to pay their tuition which affected staff.
Emnet Tsafe – Ethiopia
Emnet Tesfaye is a Lecturer, Medical Professional and Program Manager at the Hawassa University Comprehensive Specialized Hospital where she formerly served as the chief of disaster response. She also serves as the technical advisor in the Ministry of Health, Emergency, Injury and Critical Care in Ethiopia. Emnet is very passionate about medical education and has played a major role in learning continuity in her institute at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. She plans to introduce the first of its kind Medical Emergency Response system in Ethiopia leveraging technology.
Covid 19 caused a major setback in health science colleges and medical colleges in Ethiopia. By nature, medical education needs more practical activities but during that period all physical and practical activities were postponed which decreased the quality of medical education. Though the online classes used to engage students also helped in the utilization of technology.
Following the school closures during the pandemic, the government developed a “Distance Learning Plan” to assist children to learn remotely through TV, radio and digital platforms. Television and radio lessons are broadcast throughout Addis Ababa and digital platforms have been established to facilitate access to educational content and a learning management system.
Ethiopia is focusing on improving the quality of education by introducing monitoring and evaluation tools.
Mike skosana – South Africa
Mike Skosana has more than 12 years of experience as a youth professional
development advocate and social entrepreneur.
He is a former facilitator for Google digital skills for Africa, computer lab
specialist and assistant centre manager at MAC Centre in South Africa.
Through his company Crystal MG Trading and Projects, he aims at enhancing
traditional ECD educational methodologies to integrate computer science as
part of a comprehensive educational offering in partnership with owners of
licenced ECD centres.
South Africa is behind their SDG 4 target. Access to education is a great challenge for students and more than 80% of students in the rural areas face transportation issues getting to schools. Education financing is a major priority in education and digital education is essential globally.
Irene Sami – Egypt
Irene Samy Fahim is an associate Professor, Industrial and Service Engineering and Management department, Nile University Cairo, Egypt. She is the Director for Smart Engineering systems research center, Nile University. She won the state encouragement award for women 2020, and Hazem Ezzat Research excellence award, 2021 and L’oreal UNESCO for Women in Science 2021 Egypt young talents program. She received a grant for Egypt Higher Education Climate change partnerships Grants in collaboration with Nottingham University and the British council. She also received a grant for capacity building for “Women in Science and Engineering” from IEEE Circuits and Systems Society. Dr. Fahim was selected in 2019 to be among the members of the first scientific council of the Egyptian Young Academy of Sciences (EYAS) as a part of the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology (ASRT) to empower and encourage young Egyptian scientists in science and technology. Dr. Fahim participated in Fulbright Junior Faculty program for renewable energy, 2016 and participated in Entrepreneurship and leadership Program, 1000Women, Goldman Sachs,2016.
Egypt has an extensive education system that outstrips all others in the Middle East and North Africa. Although there are some courses that need to be taught such as philosophy, music and drama in schools. Investment in school facilities has not kept pace with the rapid increase in the numbers of students, resulting from high rates of population growth and rising enrolment rates. There is a need to improve the philosophy aspect, digital learning aspect and also make plans for extracurricular activities in schools.
RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE WAY FORWARD
- Give priority to inclusive education, let those who are marginalized and with disability feel seen and heard. #LeaveNoOneBehind
- Make learning materials including digital resources, accessible and affordable
- Don’t just pass policies, implement them
- Implement reproductive health education especially for girls in the rural areas in Africa
- Prioritize education financing, education is expensive.