President Kenyatta opens UNESCO conference on education in Africa

NAIROBI, 27 APRIL 2018, (PSCU) — President Uhuru Kenyatta today in Nairobi opened an international conference seeking solutions for Africa’s education challenges.

The President challenged the leaders and scholars gathered at the Safari Park Hotel for the UNESCO conference to come up with African answers for Africa’s problem.

He said education would help Africa transform but that would not happen when half of the continent’s children still miss school for various reasons.

“This conference comes at a time when we require a clearer understanding of education in Africa in order to confront challenges the continent must overcome,” said the President. “As a first step, we must ensure that Africa has the answer to the question why half our children are out of school.”

He said after solving the puzzle why so many children miss school, the next topic for discussion should be to understand what it means to educate an African child.

“We need to be clear what our aims might be: What does it mean to educate an African child in this century? And what stands in its way?” said the President. 

He added: “Africa has the answers to the challenges it currently faces. We have African answers to African problems. All we need is a well-educated population equipped to respond in a timely manner.”

He pointed out that the African Union (AU) has prepared a blueprint for education in Africa and what remains is its implementation.

The AU Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016–2025 identified the pillars for education development in Africa as a strong political peaceful and secure environment; gender equity and equality; resource mobilisation from domestic sources; capacity building and continuous development of conducive learning environments.

“We have identified the answers to our problems in education; we already know what works. What remains is to implement the solutions, and to also forge partnerships with each other and with our friends — many of them represented here today,” said the President.

The President called for more cooperation between governments, parents and multilateral agencies to expand education opportunities and also improve quality.  

He was happy that Africa has made good progress, and more children are in school, with some countries doubling enrolment in the last two decades.

Great strides have also been made in ensuring the curriculum is more relevant to the development needs of their countries and identities.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed said the outcome of the conference is expected to significantly contribute towards advancing agenda 2063 and achievement of the Africa Union vision of ‘The Africa We Want’.

Prof Sarah Anyang Agbor, the AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, urged African nations to unite and implement policies which enhance education and accelerate development.

Nairobi Governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko said his county, in the quest to ensure access to quality education, has waived all levies charged children attending Early Childhood Education in public centres.

He also said the county government and the National Government are rehabilitating and equipping public primary schools with the necessary learning materials.

The conference brings together education ministers from 54 African nations, United Nations and AU agencies, among other education stakeholders.