Africa, EU Policymakers Restate Commitment to Enduring Relations Between Africa and Europe

Calls for Increased Investment in Education in Africa

Brussels, Belgium 14th April 2023 - The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the European Union (EU) Parliament have committed to partner with stakeholders and leverage their large education networks to improve relations between Africa and Europe. This is the product of deliberations from the High-Level Conference on Education Policies and Strategies for Africa held on Thursday, the 13th of April 2023, at the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium. At the end of the three-hour session, the stakeholders agreed to forge mutually beneficial and respectful relationships to expand their influence through education.

African and EU relations have weakened over the last decade owing to several factors including differences in perspectives on global conflicts, geo-politics, and solutions to Africa’s development challenges. Education offers a common ground to address some of these issues. For Africa, it is about scaling new initiatives that have demonstrated impact, reforming policies, and implementing institutionalized programmes that sustain immediate gains and the progress made on education, especially at the level of foundational learning. For the EU, restoring historical relations needs to be based on new standards and on terms of engagement respectful of each other’s perspectives.  

In his opening remarks, the EU Member of Parliament and co-convener of the conference, Max Orville, acknowledged the need for the partnership and committed to fostering further conversations with African and EU stakeholders. According to him,

‘African ministers and former ministers, European MPs and civil society experts were meeting at the European Parliament to formulate proposals on education to strengthen the partnership between Africa and the European Union. This colloquium is a success that calls for more, and African partners have expressed their desire to organize the next edition in Africa. As we continue our work, I will do my best’.

The ADEA Executive Secretary, Albert Nsengiyumva, noted the laudable progress education particularly in foundational learning in several countries including Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, and Senegal. He noted that the continent will continue to leverage respectful and mutually accountable partnership to expand the successes, 

‘We will leverage mutual accountability and partnerships such as that with the EU to improve the availability of accurate and accessible data to track progress on foundational learning commitments, establish structured pedagogy, secure support for teachers to shift from assessment of instruction to assessment for instruction and support the social and emotional wellbeing of children.’

Speakers demonstrated the collective will to strengthen the partnership between Africa and Europe. Rwandan Minister of Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya, and her Ivorian counterpart, Prof. Mariatou Koné, shared the successes of education systems in their respective countries and sought enhanced partnerships to trigger multiplier effects in Africa. Equally, the French Secretary General for European Affairs, Emmanuel Puisais-Jauvin, recalled the massive commitment by France regarding education in Africa just as EU MP, Dr Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana, reiterated the importance of making education compulsory in all countries where it was not yet done.

Actors from civil society and multilateral organizations, including the PAL Network, UNESCO, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF contributed evidence of what works, and the additional investments required to scale these successes. They equally stressed the importance of strengthening Africa-EU cooperation, to the mutual benefit of both continents.

The conference was jointly organized by RENEW EUROPE group at the EU Parliament and ADEA and hosted at the EU Parliament in Brussels. Follow-on high-level conferences are being planned for September and December 2023 in Africa. This is expected to further cement the commitments and actions and catch-up on progress.