African solutions to African problems

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Margarete Sachs-Israel reflects on the important new commitments made at the 2018 Pan-Africa High-Level Conference on Education

First published, 15 May 2018

The 2018 Pan-African High-Level Conference on Education was notable for a number of reasons. First, it placed lifelong learning at the heart of thinking about education policy and planning in Africa. Second, it secured wide ministerial-level endorsement of its key messages, including on the need to promote and resource lifelong learning and increase literacy provision. Third, it reinforced the commitment of Member States to the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to the Continental Strategy for Africa (CESA 16–25). Perhaps most important of all, it set out a clear agenda for lifelong learning as a means of building the capacity for positive change on the continent.

In all countries, it is critical that development is owned by the people. As Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the host country, the Republic of Kenya, noted in opening the ministerial segment of the conference, there must be ‘African solutions to African problems’, and UIL believes that this demands the integration of lifelong learning into national plans and policies. The agency of the African people was a central theme of the conference and this was reflected in its main outcome document, the Nairobi Declaration and Call for Action on Education, which also made lifelong learning key to ‘building skilled African citizenry’ capable of acting as ‘agents of change’ Continue reading

Linguistic diversity should not be a cause for exclusion

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Respect for linguistic diversity is a precondition of authentic dialogue and cooperation, writes David Atchoarena on International Mother Language Day

First published, 21 February 2018

It is sobering to reflect that some 40 per cent of the global population do not have access to education in a language they can speak or understand. Many millions of children are taught in a language they do not speak at home, while, for equally huge numbers of adults, the unavailability of learning programmes in their mother tongue remains an insurmountable barrier to furthering their education.

This is why International Mother Language Day, observed worldwide each year on 21 February, is so important. Everyone has a right to speak and learn in their mother language and that right should be reflected in national education systems around the world. Continue reading

We need to talk

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Kabir Shaikh on the power of conversation in a fragmented world

First published, 29 January 2018

It has been a joy and an honour for me to serve as interim director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) over the past five months. I leave with a strong impression of the wide significance of UIL’s work, and of lifelong learning more generally, and a powerful sense of an organization with a brilliant future, staffed by talented, enterprising people and guided by a committed and far-sighted board of governors.

I have two main observations from my time at UIL. First, lifelong learning has a hugely important role to play across a range of platforms and in the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet understanding of this contribution is often low among policymakers, despite its growing prevalence in education discourse. And while there are many local and national politicians who get it, there are many, many more who do not. Continue reading