Education experts from member nations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to deliberate on issues that would promote quality education in the Sub-Region.
Delegates at the meeting, which is scheduled from the 2nd to the 6th of December 2013, would look at pertinent issues including the memorandum and concept note of the ECOWAS Commission; capacity building strategy on education management information systems (EMIS); and implementation of the ECOWAS programme on equivalence of certificates.
They would also look at feasibility studies on equivalence of certificates in the ECOWAS region; status of implementation of the ECOWAS programme on education of girls and other vulnerable groups, ECOWAS e-Learning Policy and prospects and challenges of the ECOWAS programme on HIV and AIDS preventive education.
In his opening statement, the Permanent Secretary at Senegal’s Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology, Dr. Cherno Omar Barry, said member states were cognisant of the fact that this fifth conference of ECOWAS experts in charge of Education and Training will examine progress made in the implementation of various priority intervention areas since the fourth conference of ECOWAS experts held at the headquarters of ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria, from the 1st to 6th of October 2012.
Dr. Barry said in early childhood development, the Gambia had gained momentum from 2006 with a significant increase both in the number of centers and enrolment rates. “This is mainly attributed to the implementation of the annexation policy in the remote areas which is attaching ECD centers to exisiting lower basic schools in deprived communities”, he added.
He said in order to consolidate the gains, there will be increased access to all models of ECD which will make private for the urban and peri-urban areas, with community based and annexation for the rural setting, in order to eliminate the inequalities engendered by cost.
Dr Barry said in the pursuance of the government’s commitment to the millennium development agenda, the world forum on education and to various ECOWAS protocols on education and training with emphasis on HIV and AIDS prevention and peace-building among other things, life skills and education was given prominence in the Basic and Secondary Education policy.
“This is helping learners acquire knowledge and skills as well as positive and adoptive behaviours relevant to their self-fulfilment in a dynamic and challenging environment. HIV and AIDS prevention is taught from grade 4 to 12 as well as at the tertiary level.”
He further stated that the Ministry responsible for Higher and that of Basic and Secondary Education had introduced a new paradigm both in their mode of delivery and in the use of new technologies in a bid to improving teacher content-knowledge for both pre-services and in service teachers.
He indicated that with the help of ICT and the e-Learning method, over 3,000 teachers had been trained to improve their competency levels in English, Mathematics and Science. “Teachers of training modules on distant learning are also used to replace the traditional didactic method of teaching and learning”.
Professor Abdoulaye Maga who represented the ECOWAS President at the meeting, said education was a veritable tool for improving individuals’ general well-being and a society’s socio-economic development.
He stated that specifically, progress towards better governance; more effective conflict prevention and resolution; healthy competitiveness; improved health; improved access to education and training and gainful employment; wealth creation and ultimately accelerated poverty reduction and social emancipation, were ultimately related to progress in education and training.
“On the other hand, education is generally as the most preferred antidote for juvenile delinquency, youth restiveness, criminal gangs, and the use of our youths as ready tools by warlords and other misguided individuals and groups”, he stated.
Prof. Maga said it was gratifying to note that between 2009 and 2010, an ECOWAS policy on e-learning and e-services, as well as project documents that will promote youth empowerment, skills acquisition, access to education and gainful employment, had been developed and will be presented for adoption during the ongoing meeting.
Mrs Yvette Dambele, Coordinator of the African Union Agency in-charge of women and girls education in Bukina Faso, said her organisation was working to ensure that poverty was reduced through empowering women and girls education.
She called on all and sundry to intensify the advocacy for girls’ education.
Dr. Mohamed Diarra of ADEA urged the group to work in synergy as development partners, saying that ECOWAS needed to build a strong partnership to enrich the training protocol.
Professor Kah, the Vice Chancellor of the University of the Gambia, said ECOWAS should come up with a uniform method of certification and put in place management information systems in all schools to be able to promote transparency and proper record keeping. GNA