Activists rap at Malawi for missing crucial education summit

Education activists have blamed the Malawi Government for failure to send representatives at a crucial educational conference held in Mauritius organised by the African Union (AU).

The meeting was aimed at validating the mid term evaluation report of the plan of Action for the AU Second Decade of Education for Africa (2006-2015) to ensure that the intended objectives are adequately met.

During the summit, representatives of Ministries of Education from several African nations agreed on the way forward for the remaining half of the decade.

One of the country’s renowned education campaigners, Limbani Eliya Nsapato, who attended the conference, said following the meeting, the validated report and recommendations will be presented at the next Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union (COMEDAF V) to be held in Nigeria in March 2012.

Nsapato: Sad

Nsapato expressed sadness with the Malawi Government officials for missing at such a high-profile conference which would have given the country an opportunity to learn on how their colleagues have managed to improve their education standards.

“By missing from this meeting, Malawi is not only unable to contribute to the evaluation process but it is also being denied a chance to learn from other countries that are achieving quite a lot in the priorities of the AU plan of action,” observed Nsapato.

The development comes barely a few weeks after a latest survey ranked the country’s University of Malawi at position 99 out of 100 universities in Africa.

Nsapato is based in Lusaka, Zambia where he works for Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCEFA) as Policy & Advocacy Manager but he is currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for secondment to the 3rd Pan African Professional in Residence Program.

A renowned human rights activist MacDonald Sembereka also wondered why government decided against sending representatives to the crucial meeting saying “the approach we take on things would really determine how serious we are on issues.”

Also commenting on the issue was Benedicto Kondowe, Executive Director of the Coalition of Quality Basic Education in Malawi (CQBE) who said Malawi’s absence at the crucial meeting shows how government lacks seriousness on the education sector.

“The mere absence speaks it all. Are these attributes of a serious government?” wondered Kondowe, a vocal education right activist.

In his comment posted on Civil Society Network Forum, Dr Adamson Muula poked fun at government when he said “No external travel except for the Flames [football team]. That is why the Ministry people are not there.”

His comments were echoed by another contributor who said government officials failed to attend the meeting because there are no external travel as “our legislatures are meeting to pass laws on their better perks and ensuring that JB [Joyce Banda] is impeached.”

The Second Decade of Africa results from the evaluation of the original decade of education for Africa (1997-2006) which showed that the goals towards raising the levels of education quality, access and relevance in Africa had not been achieved, and that a second collective effort was required.

According to information sourced from the AU website, following extensive consultations, the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union declared, in January 2006, the Second Decade of Education for Africa, 2006 – 2015.

“The initiative addresses key issues hindering educational development  in Africa as education is considered as an engine for development and growth as well as the key instrument for realising the collective African vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa driven by its own citizens,” it says.

Under the Second Decade of Education for Africa, eight areas of focus were identified and developed into a Plan of Action. Those areas are Gender and Culture; Education Management Information Systems (EMIS); Teacher Development; Tertiary Education; Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET); Curriculum, and Teaching and Learning Materials; Quality Management and Early Childhood Development (ECD).

The overall aim of the mid-term evaluation was to provide a complete picture of the actions taken at continental, regional and national levels since 2006 to execute the Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa; and their tangible impacts in order to inform interventions for the remaining years of the Decade.

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