In a bid to strengthen African adult education systems, DVV International held an international conference in Malawi from 24-26 September, pulling together participants from Malawi, Tanzania, Mali, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Africa and Germany.
At the end of the three-day international conference themed “Building Adult Education Systems in African Contexts”, participating countries unveiled roadmaps for building robust adult education systems. Held with support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the conference provided a rare opportunity for shared learning among the countries.
The conference, which brought together government officials and civil society organisations, introduced and built on the adult education system-building approach developed and piloted by DVV International in Eastern Africa. The approach focuses on key elements of building sustainable and robust adult education systems.
Speaking during the opening, German Ambassador to Malawi, Jürgen Borsch, stated that conference outcomes would help address critical challenges to African adult literacy. “Adult literacy remains the least funded sub-sector in Africa’s education system. Adult education has specific relevance to African countries like Malawi where, for a number of reasons, access to initial education and its quality have been limited, sometimes interrupted or cut off. Adult education, therefore, obtains an even bigger significance in such contexts, where initial learning opportunities are limited,” he said.
Grace Chiumia, Malawi Minister for Civic Education, Culture and Community Development hailed DVV International for creating an opportunity, through the conference, for Africa to address shared challenges, such as the low participation of men in adult education.
In sharing experiences from the adult education system-building approach, participants from Uganda and Ethiopia, where the approach has already been piloted, maintained that integration is key. “An Integrated approach that brings together different sectors: agriculture, health, cooperatives, etc., in a holistic manner to deliver programmes that address the literacy and numeracy as well as livelihoods and life skills needs of adults and youth is critical for success,” said a participant from Uganda.
East African attendees shared tools that were modified and adopted by participating countries for assessing the effectiveness and status of their adult education systems.
Participants valued the conference as a milestone towards strengthening adult literacy. As one of them put it: “This is a very nice conference because we have learnt good practices and experiences from other countries. I appreciate being here. This is good and relevant for my country. I hope and pray that we be able to follow the agreed next steps.”