The Education International (EI) Africa Webinar on SDG4 and CESA, which took place on Thursday, 27 May 2021 from 09:00 to 10:30 GMT/Accra time, assessed progress made by the African continent towards the achievement of the two education blueprints, and adopted a framework on hybrid and remote teaching and learning.
The webinar gathered over 90 participants, mainly EI Africa Committee members, union leaders, and representatives of EI member organisations in Africa, as well as policy makers and partners. It discussed progress, the major bottlenecks, and opportunities for achieving SDG4 and CESA objectives while paying particular attention to the critical role of teachers in the education sector.
In his opening remarks, the moderator, Dr. Dennis Sinyolo, EI Africa Regional Director, focused the webinar on three fundamental questions and issues; (a) Is Africa on track to achieving SDG4 and CESA objectives? (b) How can we recover from the current crisis and accelerate progress and, (c) financing for SDG4 and CESA objectives.
Dr. Christian Addai-Poku, EI Africa Regional Committee Chairperson, underlined in his opening remarks that teachers are a prerequisite for sustainable development.
“There is no sustainable development without quality education, and there is no quality education without well trained, qualified, and supported teachers”, he asserted; adding that there is need to adopt technology for remote and hybrid models of teaching to meet present and future challenges.
In her keynote address, Her Excellency, Professor Sarah Anyang, the African Union Commissioner for Education, traced the journey since the development of the SDGs and CESA, highlighting the achievements, challenges, and prospects. She thanked EI for organizing the webinar and expressed the hope optimistic that the deliberations would contribute to moving the CESA forward.
The Director of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM), Manos Antoninis demonstrated with statistics that Africa was not on track to achieving SDG 4 and CESA objectives. The challenges were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, teacher shortages and inadequate infrastructure.
Maria Ron Balsera described the underfunding of education as chronic, with countries in Africa spending an average of 17% of the national budget on education, which is below the recommended 20%. Covid-19 had put pressure on government spending. Nevertheless, she said that governments could get the funding of education if they applied the 4S framework (share, size, sensitivity, and scrutiny) of the education budget. She added that governments should stop tax incentives, spend less on debt repayment, and not accept public sector wage bill cuts.
Participants from Ghana, Chad, and Mozambique, shared country level experience on progress towards the achievement of education goals, highlighting key issues related to teacher training, quality education, infrastructure development, and inclusion of vulnerable children, among others.
In his closing remarks, the EI General Secretary, David Edwards, observed that based on the presentations made, the research evidence shared and the experiences of union leaders and educators on the ground, it was clear that SDG4 targets and CESA objectives will not be achieved in Africa, and indeed, globally by 2030. He called on governments to increase ducation financing, provide adequate infrastructure and equipment, involve teachers and their unions in policy development and effectively support them in providing teaching in times of crisis. He stated that EI will continue to put pressure on governments, the UN and its agencies, regional and other intergovernmental organisations so that quality public education becomes a reality for all.
“Building the capacity of teachers for remote and hybrid teaching is a must. Technology cannot replace teachers, but with appropriate use, it can be a powerful tool for enhancing their work”, he concluded.
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