ADEA’s 2012 Triennale: Stepping up education and training for Africa’s sustainable development

Article, 08.02.2012

The ADEA Triennale on education and training in Africa brings together a range of people working for education on the continent: government ministers, representatives of bilateral and multilateral agencies, members of research networks, NGOs, the private sector and socio-professional organisations. Adapting education systems to the challenges of sustainable development is the focus of the broad dialogue. The event takes place from 12-17 February 2012 in Ouagadougou and is organised by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), a longstanding partner of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The overall theme discussed in the capital of Burkina Faso is: «Promoting critical knowledge, skills and qualifications for sustainable development in Africa: How to design and implement an effective response by education and training systems?» The debate will turn on three main themes:

  • developing a realistic vision of the future of Africa
  • achieving this vision through promoting new policies and strategies on education and training targeted at effectively addressing economic, social and cultural needs
  • implementing varied and integrated education and training programmes that identify and develop the critical skills individuals need for life-long learning

Broad-based forum to discuss future challenges

The Triennale (previously Biennale) is the largest forum for the exchange of experiences in the field of education. It is organised by ADEA, a long-standing partner of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, in view of ADEA’s ability to influence education policies and practices in Africa. The SDC makes a general contribution to ADEA, permitting it to carry out its strategic plan of action for 2008-2012 on the basis of the following five objectives: political dialogue, sub-regional/continental cooperation, analytical work, dissemination of knowledge and organisational strengthening.

In the last five years, notable progress has been made in education in Africa. Since 1995, the overall rates of schooling have grown significantly at all levels of education. This progress reflects the region’s relatively strong and stable economic growth of 5.6% on average.

Nevertheless, major challenges remain ahead: the poor quality of education, limited access to professional training as well as the inadequate responses to the social and economic needs of rural communities. In general, African education systems are characterised by serious disparities, particularly with regard to discrimination against women (60% of whom are still illiterate), place of residence and standard of living. In Niger, for example, a boy from an affluent urban family has 19 times more chances of receiving a secondary education than a girl from a disadvantaged rural background.

Contributions of the SDC and its partners

Seizing the opportunity presented by the Triennale, the SDC has supported several studies as well as two joint processes carried out with civil society actors. The latter have been recruited with SDC partners to implement an approach to education and training adapted to the needs of children, young people and adults from rural backgrounds excluded from formal education. For the SDC partners, the meeting in Ouagadougou will serve as a platform to share, develop and disseminate their alternative approaches and their thoughts on education and training.