Foundational Learning Coalition - Ministers express desire to leverage starter pack as resource guide to drive country FL reforms

African Ministers in charge of education expressed their desire to leverage the proposed foundational learning (FL) starter pack to action the FL commitments. At the 4th Foundational Learning Ministerial Coalition meeting held virtually on Tuesday, 6th February 2024, organized by ADEA and Human Capital Africa (HCA), the Ministers from Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, and The Gambia, together with the ministerial representatives from Mauritius, Senegal, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, underscored the value of the starter pack in aiding the provision of additional evidence base to support efforts aimed at addressing FL challenges in their continent.

At the ADEA FL high-level policy dialogue forum in 2023 in Lusaka, Zambia, 10 Ministers and 11 Ministerial representatives from 21 African countries resolved to strengthen their efforts to address the FL crisis in Africa. The first of the five resolutions issued through the communique is the need to develop and adopt a starter pack as a critical FL resource guide that will ensure uniformity, continuity of initiatives and sustainability. 

ADEA is now operationalizing the communique – working with countries through the Africa FL Ministerial Coalition and collaborating with HCA and other key partners – and has set out actions to develop the starter pack. A roadmap for the starter pack’s development and adoption was presented at the Coalition’s virtual meeting to gain the member’s input regarding their expectations. ADEA is leading the finalization of the starter pack to be ready for sharing with the countries and wider dissemination by the end of May. 

The Coalition’s meeting was also an opportunity to check in with the countries regarding their plans for the 2024 Year of Education for Africa, set the agenda for the joint advocacy and engagements this year and keep the FL commitments on the front burner. Ministers welcomed the initiative and acknowledged the desire to continue to leverage cooperation with ADEA, HCA, and partners in realizing their FL goals. For instance, Hon. Prof. Mariatou Kone, Minister of National Education and Literacy in Cote d’Ivoire highlighted the country’s FL efforts leveraging its National Program for the Improvement of Early Learning (NAPAS). According to her, 

‘Our work on foundational learning issues now falls within the framework of the National Program for the Improvement of Early Learning (NAPAS), which focuses on structured pedagogy and remedial lessons. For us, NAPAS is a real roadmap and a coherent framework for action in which we are capitalizing on the evidence from all the different initiatives. The integration of teaching approaches and scaling up are challenges that we have identified and for which the good practices shared during our various consultations and exchanges feed into our thinking’. 

She promised to build a robust measurement, monitoring, and evaluation system that will enable the country to adjust its progress. Hon. Prof. Kone welcomed the initiative of the FL meetings and the spirit of solidarity shown by the members of the ministerial coalition.

Hon. Francisco Pacheco, Secretary of State for Pre-primary and Primary Education in Angola, said that the country is set to scale up its catch-up program given some of the experiences gained from the Lusaka Forum. He, however, implored for support from ADEA and partners to enable the Ministry to continue its drive towards the integration of technology in delivering teaching, teacher motivation and improving school enrolment and addressing learning poverty. 

Equally, Ms. Anna Nancy, who stood in for the Minister of Education in The Gambia, Hon. Mrs. Claudiana Cole – who joined the call towards the end, expressed their readiness to adopt and use the starter pack. According to her, 

‘The Gambia is really committed to pushing forward the foundational learning agenda. And we have put in some strategies to this end. We also want to learn from other countries. We also look forward to getting and using the starter pack, which I think would really help us to get the desired results.’   

Mauritius, Rwanda, and Senegal also shared their efforts towards enhancing FL and leveraging the starter pack. 

The Africa FL Ministerial Coalition was set up following the ADEA 2022 Triennale where participating countries made commitments to address learning poverty and recover from the COVID-19-induced setbacks in education. The Coalition aims to be an opportunity to track commitments, promote peer learning and advance conversations towards addressing learning poverty. The first meeting of the Coalition took place in February 2023, followed by another in September and November of the same year during the Lusaka high level policy dialogue forum. 

ADEA remains committed to supporting countries to improve educational outcomes at the foundational level through its initiatives, especially in the 2024 Year of Education for Africa. A roundtable event in Addis Ababa on the 12th and 13thFebruary and supported by ADEA, UNICEF and Dangote Foundation is expected to set in motion FL advocacies in the year of education. Over 84 participants were part of the meeting including Ministers, ministerial representatives, and development partners.