Lilongwe, Malawi November 2 -3, 2018: In June 2015, the AU Assembly committed to establishing of a team of 10 Heads of State and Government (C10). The team would serve as Africa’s Champions of Education, Science and Technology and would set a high-level platform for pursuing the achievement of SDG’s and implementation of AU’s Agenda 2063. The champion team of ten comprises Egypt, Tunisia, Chad, Gabon, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Mauritius, Malawi and Namibia.
The first extraordinary meeting was officiated by His Excellency President of Malawi, Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika, The convening themed ”Strengthening Education, Science, Technology and Innovation for Africa’s Development”, was aimed at launching a framework for achieving African Union’s Agenda 2063 through enhanced investment and strategic multi-sectoral private and public sector partnerships for Education, Training and Research development.
Along the side-lines of the meeting, the AU ECED Cluster co-ordinated by AfECN held a luncheon with the objective of shining the spotlight on the importance of the early years as a foundation for strengthening Education, Science and Technology in Africa. During the meeting, high-level Ministry officials and representatives of the AU highlighted the importance of the early years in laying a foundation for improved educational outcomes.
In his welcome remarks, Mr McKnight Kalanda, Director of Child Affairs, Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Malawi emphasised the need for increased investment in the early years. He further emphasised the need for improving transitions, building synergies and strengthening partnerships across ministries for greater impact. In her remarks, Dr. Beatrice Njenga, Head of Education Division; Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, AUC reiterated the importance of ensuring equitable access to services by children who are unable to access ECD services due to poverty, social stigma and conflict for the achievement of Agenda 2063. This, as observed by Mr Kimanzi Muthengi - Education Specialist UNICEF, would play a critical role in alleviating the negative effects of poverty and disease on child development among poor and vulnerable families.
In welcoming the guest of honour, the Commissioner for AUC Human Resources, Science and Technology, H.E. Prof Sarah Anyang Agbor noted that early childhood development is key in ensuring Africa’s transformation. Prof. Agbor reiterated the AU’s commitment to early childhood development demonstrated through the launch of the ECED Cluster. She noted with appreciation the work of AfECN in coordinating the Cluster and called upon all actors across the sectors to strengthen collaborative action. She further urged member states to invest in the early years for greater educational efficiency.
The session was presided over by H.E. Leela Devi Dookhun, Minister of Education and Human Resources, Mauritius. In her opening remarks, H.E. Leela noted the importance of partnership and lauded the AUC for launching the ECED Cluster. As the vice chair of the AU ECED Cluster and Co-ordinator of the ADEA ECD ICQN, she expressed confidence in the partnership with AfECN in supporting the achievement of the CESA 16-25 objectives of ECD. She reminded the delegates that effective programming calls for integration and coordination across government ministries and non-state actors and called upon Member States to build a regional platform for sharing knowledge and peer learning to advance the ECD agenda
In delivering the closing remarks, H.E. Bright Msaka SC, Hon. Minister of Education, Science and Technology in Malawi, called on delegates to strengthen action for all children to enhance educational outcomes.
Following the meeting, Government ministers, in presenting their recommendations to the C10, also presented key messages on the importance of the early years. The Ministers called for inclusive and equitable access to education at all levels and emphasized the importance of laying a strong foundation for learning. They called for increased resource allocation for improved policy and practice across the continent.
During the meeting, the C10 Action Plan was adopted and a Think Tank of African Expertise to support the C10 was established. The meeting culminated with the C10 commitment to a number of key actions including assuring the well-being of children in their most formative years, through Early Childhood Education and Development to better prepare them in their education and for their careers.
Further Reading: Lilongwe Declaration on Education Science and Technology