Africa has a Champion for Foundational Learning

Photo: President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia

The President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency, Mr Hakainde Hichilema has accepted to be the Champion of Foundational Learning (FL) in Africa. This is a major milestone in FL advocacy. In a letter dated 18th April 2024, from the Ministry of Education Zambia and addressed to ADEA, the President acknowledged the honour of being the face of FL in Africa.

Resolution II of the Ministerial Communique issued at the end of the 2023 ADEA High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum on Foundational Learning (HLPDF), underscores the value of voice and influence, in which Ministers were urged to encourage their Heads of state to become ‘Champions of foundational learning.’ Leveraging on this, ADEA and the Minister of Education Zambia wrote to the president and made presentations on the value and impact of his influence in advancing the cause for increased investment and commitment to FL by countries in Africa.

ADEA views this outcome as a major milestone in our efforts to address challenges in FL in Africa. The Champion will raise the salience of foundational learning on the continent and help steer the continent towards a common goal: to improve learners' learning outcomes at the foundational level. These foundational skills are the building blocks upon which future learning and overall success in life are anchored. Studies show that nearly 90% of children under 10 years cannot read a simple text or solve simple arithmetic. Studies also report a growing number of out-of-school children, poor teacher capacity, and learning loss worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hence, President Hichilema will leverage his voice and influence to create visibility for prioritizing foundational learning at the regional, continental, and global levels, to demand critical actions from colleague Heads of Government and other stakeholders like development partners and civil society to address these challenges to ensure the learning future of African children.

Given his passion for education and the major strides Zambia has made in foundational learning, he will leverage the success stories from Zambia to showcase examples of what works and how countries can leverage such knowledge and insights to strengthen their FL efforts.

ADEA is planning a follow-on HLPDF on FL where it plans to report back on the progress against these commitments, while setting a new FL agenda for Africa. President Hichilema will be the first ever Champion for Foundational Learning.