President Hichilema of Zambia to Open High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum on Foundational Learning

President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia

Abidjan, 23rd October 2023 – President Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia will open a two-day High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum (HLPDF) on Foundational Learning. The event organized by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and hosted by the Government of Zambia through the Ministry of Education will hold in Lusaka, Zambia between the 31st of October and 1st of November 2023. It will convene African Ministers in charge of basic education and ministerial delegates from the 54 African countries, to take stock of the progress made in foundational learning in Africa since the commitments made at the ADEA 2022 Triennale and the Transforming Education Summit (TES).

Foundational learning (FL) skills are at the base of all learning and are crucial to breaking cycles of poverty. Children who are unable to attain basic literacy and numeracy skills, and who lack the ability to strengthen their socio-emotional development risk exclusion from education and economic opportunities in later years. But Africa’s FL outcomes are at crisis proportions. A recent study shows that 94% of children in sub-Saharan Africa lack the basic skills needed to contribute to a modern economy. Two years of COVID-19-related school closures have worsened FL outcomes. Learning poverty (the ability to read and understand a simple story) is as high as 87% in sub-Saharan Africa. Children from the poorest households, including those in rural areas, those with disabilities and girls have paid the heaviest price.

At the Transforming Education Summit in September 2022 and the ADEA 2022 Triennale last October, education stakeholders made strong commitments to enhance FL outcomes on the continent. Some of these focused on improving existing policies around pedagogy, teacher professional development, access to learning for under-served and disadvantaged children. Therefore, the HLPDF presents an opportunity to take stock of the progress against these commitments, share experiences on effective initiatives and push for more efforts towards delivering on the commitments.

According to Albert Nsengiyumva, the Executive Secretary, ADEA,

‘This year we are focusing on foundational learning,and we are happy that Zambia is hosting this forum particularly for what it symbolizes. Zambia has demonstrated a strong commitment to its development goals and made dedicated efforts to improve education outcomes for its people. These values align with our mission and our role in Africa as an education development catalyst.’

Hon. Douglas Syakalima, the honourable minister of education, Zambia says,

‘Zambia is excited to host this continental dialogue forum on education. We believe that there is a lot of lessons we can share with Africa from the progress we have made in education. But we also want to learn from our sister countries in Africa and see what we can adapt to sustain our foundational learning outcomes. This is what ADEA represents, and we are very excited to partner with them in hosting this event.’

The HLPDF is a flagship continental cross-country knowledge exchange mechanism organized by ADEA and supported by African governments and education stakeholders. It showcases, shares, and discusses comprehensive and innovative programs aimed at developing Africa’s education and learning system. The 2023 HLPDF will focus on three main objectives:

  • Share the best practices for developing long-term national strategies for foundational learning.
  • Discuss policy-level experiences aimed at improving teaching for foundational learning; and
  • Extract long- and short-term policy lessons about teacher recruitment strategies, what works and what needs improvement.

The forum will convene several ministers in charge of basic education and country-level policymakers in charge of delivering foundational learning, development partners, civil society organizations and private sector representatives. Recommendations from the event will inform preparations for the 2024 African Union Year of Education to mobilize deeper political commitment to improve the salience of foundational learning.

About ADEA

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) is a critical voice and a forum for policy dialogue on education in Africa. It is hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. ADEA envisions a "high-quality African education and training geared towards the promotion of critical skills for accelerated and sustainable development in Africa". ADEA serves as an "open and flexible pan-African organization that informs and facilitates the transformation of education and training to drive Africa's accelerated and sustainable development." We act as catalysts in promoting innovative policies and practices by pooling ideas, experiences, learning, and knowledge. The anticipated impact of ADEA's work is that African countries are empowered to develop education and training systems that respond to their current and emergent needs and sustainably drive Africa's social and economic transformation.


Ministry of Education in Zambia

The Ministry of Education in Zambia is building the next generation of forward-looking and innovative Zambians. We are working to transform the Republic of Zambia into a high-ranking, prosperous and modern country. The Ministry establishes an enabling environment for a learning and education system that equips learners with innovative, cutting-edge knowledge and in-depth skills for increased competence in a dynamic work environment.


For more information and media advisory please contact the following:

  • Chinedu Anarado, Communications Specialist, ADEA,
  • Kunda Mundo, Head of Communications; Ministry of Education, Zambia