Education 2030 in Africa: A commitment to lifelong learning

9 May 2018

Participants in the Pan-African High-Level Conference on Education (PACE 2018) made an important commitment to promoting lifelong learning for all, particularly for those excluded from education and training.

The event, which took place in Nairobi Kenya from 25 to 27 April 2018, aimed to chart a common way forward to ensure inclusive and quality education for all in Africa.

Education ministers and vice-ministers, other high-level government officials, and representatives of international, regional and national United Nations organizations, pan-African and sub-regional organizations, civil society, youth and teacher organizations joined the discussions, which concluded with strong recommendations for developing Africa’s human and social capital through education within the context of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Continental Strategy for Education in Africa 2016–2025, expressed in the Nairobi Declaration and Call for Action on Education.

The Declaration recognized that ‘access to and quality of education and training at all levels remained critical challenges within the African continent with millions of children, young people and adults lacking foundational skills and relevant competencies needed for life and work in a globalized world’. It put the learning needs of out-of-school children and excluded young people and adults high on the list of priorities for national education policy and planning.

Lifelong learning was high on the agenda. During the meeting, advances made in lifelong learning were highlighted and needs for further development identified, among them well-integrated, functioning lifelong learning systems. The Declaration included a commitment by national governments to

promoting quality lifelong learning for all at all levels, using diverse and relevant modes of learning with flexible pathways between formal, non-formal and informal education and training models, including strengthened systems of recognition and equivalence, to cater for all children, youth and adults in and out of school.

A further commitment was made to ‘increasing provision of effective and relevant literacy programmes for youth and adults leading to functional proficiency levels, integrating skills development for decent work and livelihood, health and responsible citizenship’.

There are many opportunities in Africa today to ensure an inclusive, quality and transformative education for all – and these were reflected in the rich debate at the conference. Key for the region will be improved sector-wide coordination as well as inter-ministerial collaboration and partnerships, reinforced by strong legal frameworks, policies and strategies for ensuring lifelong learning for all, which will be key for a prosperous and more equitable Africa.