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Kenya Hosts Continental Conference on Education

By Dr. Evangeline Njoka, MBS

The Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Education has been accorded the honour to host the Pan African High Level meeting on Education (PACE 2018) from 25th- 27th April, 2018 at Safari Park Hotel. This high level conference is jointly organized by the Ministry of Education, Kenya, UNESCO and the African Union.
Subsequent to Kenya’s Membership to UNESCO in April 7, 1964, the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO (KNATCOM) was established in 1964 as a Department under the then Ministry of Education. The Commission was transformed into a State Corporation on 25th January, 2013 following the enactment of the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO Act 2013.
As a Commission, KNATCOM has a dual mandate of promoting Kenya’s national interests in UNESCO and UNESCO’s international interests in Kenya, regionally and globally. The Commission: promotes collaborations between national and international institutions; promotes knowledge and information sharing; facilitates national and international policy formulation in the fields of education, sciences, culture and communication & information; mobilizes financial, technical and informational resources from UNESCO, among many other functions.
Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. UNESCO provides global and regional leadership in education, strengthens education systems worldwide and responds to contemporary global challenges through education. This is founded on a strong view that education is a human right for all throughout life and that access needs be matched by quality. The organization has been entrusted to lead the Global Education 2030 Agenda through Sustainable Development Goal 4.
In 2015, the international community, after an unprecedented and inclusive consultation process, endorsed the comprehensive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development comprised of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The post 2015 Agenda recognises education as a main driver of development in general and as such considered fundamental for achieving all the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 4 aims to: “ensure equitable inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Additionally, in 2016, the African Union, in the bid to support the new vision for development of the continent (Agenda 2063) and ‘to “create” a new African citizen that can be ‘an effective change agent of this drive’, endorsed the Continental Strategy for Education in Africa 2016-2025 (CESA 16-25). The Strategy is the African response to own the SDGs, and shape and adapt them to the specific needs of the continent, building on lessons learnt from previous education strategies and plans. It aims at “Reorienting Africa’s education and training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills, innovation and creativity required to nurture African core values and promote sustainable development at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.”

Nearly three years after the endorsement of the SDGs, and two years after the adoption of CESA 16-25, African countries are at different stages of progress in integrating/mainstreaming the internationally and regionally agreed targets and commitments into their national education policies, plans and practices. It is therefore important, in the pursuit of the targets set in the education frameworks, to take stock of the progress made and to identify both the challenges and the opportunities related to education legislation, policy, plans, financing, monitoring and information systems, as well as the devised mechanisms for consultation, coordination, collaboration and reporting.

The meeting targets Heads of state of the African Union Champion Countries on Education, Science and Technology (Senegal, Tunisia, Mauritius, Malawi, Gabon Namibia, Chad, The Arab Republic of Egypt, Sierra Leone and Kenya) as well as the Heads of State for Seychelles, Rwanda and Ghana who have made remarkable progress in instituting education reforms in their countries. The meeting will also bring together Ministers of Education and Permanent Secretaries from all the African Countries, key officials from the Africa Union, UNESCO, other United Nation Agencies, representatives of African Regional blocks, members of the civil society in Education from across the continent and the private sector.

Drawing on the Global and Regional commitments and guided by the theme “Bridging continental and global education frameworks for the Africa We Want”, PACE 2018 will deepen the understanding of some key transversal issues and enable knowledge and experiences sharing for the advancement of the education agenda. PACE 2018 will also provide an opportunity to share progress, success stories, challenges and lessons learned by Member States thus far and to contribute to the ongoing discussions on the 2063 African Union vision The Africa We Want. It is envisaged that the meeting will allow African countries to reflect and prepare for two upcoming major global events, the Global Education Meeting (GEM) (December 2018) and the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) (July 2019), both intended as mechanisms for monitoring progress of the global education 2030 agenda and the SDGs.

The Expected outcomes from the meeting are: improved understanding on key issues for the development of education in Africa; a shared understanding on the status of alignment of national education plans with SDG4 and CESA 16-25; an agreed joint mechanism for monitoring progress and reporting; enhanced support and commitment for improved coordination and articulation at sub-regional and regional levels and an endorsed Outcome Statement

The Kenya National Commission for UNESCO is pleased to be associated with this meeting. We are keen to support the Government of Kenya through the Ministry of Education to institute comprehensive education reforms in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and as envisioned by the Agenda 2063 and the Continental Strategy for Education in Africa 2016-2025. We appreciate the efforts by the Ministry to align the Education Sector policies and plan to the global and continental commitments as a key milestone towards successful implementation of the frameworks.
I appeal to all stakeholders to support the Government in the endevour to provide inclusive, equitable and quality and education services to all Kenyans as provided in the aspirations of the Agenda 2063 and SDG4 targets.
Hashtag #PACE2018
Dr Njoka is the Secretary General of Kenya National Commission for UNESCO.