Activities 1998-2009

Between 1998 and 2000, the working group embarked on consultations with education policy-makers and managers, and undertook regional and sub-regional needs assessment and training workshops. This activity reached about 250 journalists and ministry communication officers in 30 African countries. Between 2001 and 2005, the working group focused on national-level training workshops, using a 6-module curriculum validated by a network of trainers in 2001. Media coverage of more than 15 major education events in 2003-2005 helped to enhance the capacity of more than 120 African media practitioners and journalists to understand and report on varied issues in education, and to strengthen their commitment to specializing in education reporting and to reinforce networks of communicators for education. The 2006-2008 medium-term plan emphasized the strategic communication needs of education ministries especially in support of their responsibility for managing programs and for piloting education reforms.

An independent evaluation carried out in 2007 has further clarified the institutional ‘shape’ of COMED and its medium to long term orientation. It provided material for advocacy and resource mobilization and stressed the importance of “revitalizing” the Working Group’s Steering Committee. In addition, the Working Group Secretariat was tasked to develop and implement on a continuous basis an internal communication strategy. WG COMED has also been guided by its medium term strategic plan for 2008 – 2012. This plan is designed to develop mechanisms for obtaining maximal synergy effect with the strategic objectives of ADEA, and its targets and it adequately reflects key international agreements and initiatives including the African Union Second Decade Action Plan, the MDGs and specifically the broader EFA agenda. It focuses on the changes in vision, policies, strategies, perceptions, understanding, capabilities, attitudes, practices, and relations among the education players in Africa, and enables the working group to clarify its direction in the context of the changing policy environment in the next five years. In addition, WG COMED’s Strategic Plan includes a proposal for a performance measurement framework for the Working Group.

WGCOMED is working with leaders of education ministries to demonstrate the value of investing in strategic communication, and will continue to support them through capacity building and reinforcement of ministerial communication units and establishment of relevant norms and tools.

COMED provided support to the Africa Education Journalism Award in 2008 through the promotion/ advertising/publicity and calling for entries ; selection of juries, media relations, processing of entries, preliminary screening, selection of short-listed and winning entries, announcement of winners ; organizing a study tour to partner media organizations who are leaders in education journalism in Mozambique and South Africa and other study opportunities to enhance the professional profiles of the laureates. The African Education journalism Award has continued to promote interest and excellence in educational reporting by African journalists. The Award has certainly promoted more coverage in educational issues by journalists as we see the number of articles on Education in African newspapers increase tremendously during the past two years, and particularly so for papers who had winning laureates.

COMED organised a roundtable discussion for African ministers of education and education journalists during the ADEA Biennale in Maputo in May 2008. This provided for the first time a forum where sitting ministers of education from South Africa and Congo-Brazzaville and a former education minister from Mali exchanged extensively with African journalists from different regions on the issue of using communication to ensure dialogue on education for development at the national and regional levels. This discussion forum that brought ministers of education and journalists together agreed on the need to use and strengthen communication activities in African ministries of education.

COMED identified a small group of talented journalists from its existing network and enabled them to participate in a number of key education and media events in Africa. They were invited to attend special education events in 2008 by the Africa Commission meeting organized by the Government of Denmark, the Highway Africa meeting organized by the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University in South Africa, the High Level Forum on Media and Development organized jointly by the European Union and the African Union, the Non-Formal Education Conference organized by the ADEA Working Group on Non-Formal Education and UNESCO to prepare CONFINTEA VI, the Regional Conference on Higher Education organized by UNESCO to prepare the World Conference on Higher Education, and the EFA High Level Group Meeting hosted by the Government of Norway and UNESCO. A major event in 2008 was the Biennale organized by ADEA in which over 500 participants including all the Ministers of Education in Africa attended in Maputo, Mozambique in May 2008. Journalists and correspondents’ reports were widely disseminated through ADEA and other networks. This has refocused media coverage of major education events in Africa, from the more training-oriented ‘mass’ approach of the past, to a more selective, mainstreamed professional approach, and has significantly reduce costs and improved quality. COMED has also been working with journalist groups to strengthen national networks of communicators for education through training and involvement in media coverage of education activities on the continent. . In Benin, COMED sponsored the monthly meetings of the members of the Benin Network of Journalists and communicators specialized in Education in which a specialized educational theme was discussed.

COMED continued to invest considerable time and much resource in capacity building activities for journalists, communication experts and members of civil society organizations. Principal among these activities which involved a lot of training aimed at building capacity was the exercise to develop a comprehensive education tool kit for capacity development of African communicators and media practitioners. All these efforts are linked to the development of a communication strategy for the implementation of the Second Decade Action Plan

In 2009, COMED’s participation in several international special events enhanced its visibility to a greater extent than was done in 2008. COMED trained over 50 journalists who participated in and provided media coverage at the World Conference on Higher Education held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in July 2009, the conference of finance and education ministers to discuss the Impact of the financial crisis on African education held in Tunis in July 2009, the Conference on contractual teachers held in Bamako in October 2009, the regional conference on Early Childhood Development held in Dakar in November 2009, and CONFINTEA VI conference on Non-Formal Education held in Belem, Brazil in December 2009. In addition, COMED and about 100 members of its network of journalists were mobilized through electronic contacts to participate in the media coverage of the launch of the 2010 EFA Global Monitoring Report. Members of the COMED network of education journalists around the continent participated in an online forum discussion in COMED’s website and published various articles in their media around the launch of the report by the UN Secretary General at the UN headquarters in New York. Several special feature articles were published in various African newspapers in English, French and Portuguese. COMED also participated in one regional workshop held in Kinshasa, DRC from 19 – 24 November 2009, and provided technical advice on the way forward for the School of Parents project which has recorded remarkable success in the three countries where it was piloted – Senegal, Burkina Faso and Guinea. COMED and FAPE agreed to extend the project to 12 other countries in Africa.

A 10 day capacity development workshop was held in Windhoek, Namibia from March 9- 18, 2009. This workshop brought together 25 journalists, education specialists, communication officers in ministries of education, university professors and representatives of civil society organizations from 16 African countries to prepare the kit. This workshop enabled participants to discuss and exchange thoroughly on most of the issues related to communication for education and development in Africa. This workshop provided the major elements of the tool kit and concluded that other media practitioners including opinion leaders will also benefit from knowledge with the use of the tool kit for advocacy work.

A regional training workshop to trial test and further develop some of the modules in the new comprehensive tool kit was held at Rhodes University in Grahamstown during the Highway Africa Conference in September 2009. This conference is the largest annual gathering of African journalists and media practitioners on the African continent and was held from September 6 – 8. This event preceded the technical workshop, which enabled a number of other journalists and communication experts outside of the tool kit working group to participate in the COMED review exercise.

The innovative and comprehensive tool kit for the training of journalists and communication experts that was produced in early 2010 was launched at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa by the former President of Ghana, Mr. John Kufuor in July 2010. Two regional capacity building training workshops were organized at Rhodes university in Grahamstown, South Africa (May 26 – June 6, 2009) and in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in January 2010 in which certain components of the new tool kit were trial-tested. Components of the tool kit have been revised as a result of this trial testing. Regional trial testing of this kit is continuing in Morocco for North African countries, Benin for francophone countries and Botswana for Anglophone countries. The kit is to be validated before the end of 2011 and will serve as a training tool for communication officers of ministries of education, journalists reporting on education, as well as members of civil society organizations who will be engaged in policy debates and dialogue on educational issues at national, sub-regional and regional levels.

An interactive forum for the exchange of knowledge and information among journalists and media practitioners in Africa now exists through the COMED website. This is being used effectively as seen by the continuous feedback received by the Secretariat from its partners. This website is now developing into a major forum for exchanges among African journalists in the COMED networks. The website has increased COMED’s visibility and networking function. It now provides links with COMED’s various constituencies : media, education ministries, researchers and instructors, education stakeholders, development partners and the larger ADEA family through providing and exchanging information about communication for education in Africa. News about education from media is provided daily through links with The COMED Secretariat has also communicated effectively through its quarterly editorials published in the COMED website and also sent as a newsletter item to all its registered partners in its mailing list. Clippings and contributions from communication officers in education ministries are being complemented by moderated electronic forum discussions on various subjects of interest. Monitoring of the website’s usefulness is also being undertaken through documenting ‘hits’.

The COMED Secretariat became more functional and stable in 2009, and the ADEA Secretariat and a reactivated Steering Committee with new members provided guidance and moral and intellectual support to the COMED Secretariat. In December, 2009 the lead agency and Chair of the Steering Committee changed hands when Norad handed this role over to OSISA. The Secretariat uses consultants to achieve its objectives. The COMED secretariat has also received technical support from the ADEA Secretariat’s Knowledge management Specialist in November 2009.