Eastern African countries resolve to include adult learning and education into roadmap for lifelong learning


Ministerial SDG4 Regional Forum for Eastern Africa
© UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa
31 March 2017

Thirteen[1] countries in the Eastern Africa region have committed to include adult literacy in a new regional roadmap for lifelong learning as a means to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This decision was reached at the Ministerial SDG4 Regional Forum for Eastern Africa in Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania, on 15 and 16 February 2017. Here, Ministers of Education and representatives of the 13 countries met to identify ways to collaborate and monitor progress at the sub-regional level.

The SDG4 Regional Forum was motivated by recent global agreements on lifelong learning; these include the Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and SDG4. In recent months, East African countries have held consultations to define national priorities for SDG4, which aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. The value of adult learning and education (ALE) and the benefits of providing the proper tools for quality literacy programmes were recognized at the Forum, the outcome of which calls for efforts to improve non-formal ALE in the region.

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) published its third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III) last September and found mixed progress in ALE in the region since 2009. For example, teachers/facilitators in the East Africa region are in dire need of quality professional training and qualifications, while decision-makers must accumulate further extensive data and strengthen accuracy in order to form effective education policies. Seven of the relevant countries now have a policy framework to recognize, validate and accredit ALE, however; yet ALE remains underfunded, with some countries even reporting a decrease in public spending in the area.

On a more positive note, research done at UIL by Ms Mary Malunde Watugulu, Head of Human Resources at the Tanzania Institute of Education, has helped to develop the country’s Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP). Ms Watugulu was invited to UIL in 2012 as a CONFINTEA Fellow in recognition of her efforts in promoting the training of adult educators and facilitators. The ESDP evolved in cooperation with UIL, and other UN agencies and partners, and was finalized in early 2017. It is hoped that the plan will improve equitable access to education in the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Forum was hosted by the Tanzanian Ministry of Education, UNESCO, and other organizations driving the implementation of SDG4, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Refugee Agency (UNCHR), UNICEF, UNWOMEN and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

[1] Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania.