Ministries of Education in Africa

These constitute the principal partners of WGCOMED. As Ministries Education have a major responsibility for managing programs and for piloting reforms in their countries, they need to establish multiple partnerships for education development and change. Ministries should seek the active engagement and support of varied public, private, community and civic groups, for success in developing and implementing education reforms. The processes involved in doing so are destined to become more participatory, democratic and accountable in line with tendencies in the broader national and international contexts. Multi-directional and multi-level communications are required to effectively address the partnerships required. More effective communication is required if education reforms are to be implemented successfully. Therefore in order to expand growing awareness and to encourage commitment, WGCOMED works with Ministers of Education and their communication units, senior officials at policy level, as well as funding partners, through advocacy and other efforts, so that they accept the importance of including communication activities in their policies and programs, thus ensuring them greater visibility and increased public support.

The African Media

WGCOMED has partnered with the African media to increase the number of editors, journalists, producers and their organizations focusing on education issues. A WGCOMED Journalists’ Network scattered around the African continent and numbering about four hundred persons, is supported to cover major education events, providing on-site reports and subsequent in-depth analyses for wide-spread diffusion and exchange. The Networks comprise journalists, ministerial communication officers, training institutions and other relevant stakeholders. In Senegal, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Benin, where networks have been active, WGCOMED will ensure that these groups are backstopped to continue regular (monthly/quarterly) activities to engage and commit their members, increase their expertise on education issues and provide access to national and international data sources. Most of them have also continuously produced analytical news and information on the education sector in their own countries through regular news reporting, opinion columns and broadcast programs. Increasingly, these are available in on-line editions.

The African Union

WGCOMED is partnering with the African Union Commission to develop and implement a Communication Strategy for the implementation of the Second Decade Plan of Action for Education in Africa. This is a continental communications strategy to support activities related to the Second Decade of Education for Africa.

Civil Society

WGCOMED is working closely with civil society organizations on the continent. Stakeholders active in education promotion and dialogue include Parents’ Associations, Teachers’ Unions, Students’ groups, private proprietors and other Civil Society Organizations or CSOs. WGCOMED is currently preparing to organize a regional network of countries to share experience and build skills of civil society groups at decentralized local levels, and to engage them in communication to support education initiatives. National level capacity-building activities in each country will also be undertaken, with education sector resources, where possible. WGCOMED has helped to develop a radio-based communication strategy to enable the Federation Africaine des Parents d’Eleves et d’ Etudiants known as FAPE to implement its project, ‘l’Ecole des Parents’ in which parents speak to other parents about education and urge them to participate more in the governance and activities of schools. Piloted and recently-evaluated in three countries, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Senegal, the project has provided important insights into the contribution that communication among parents and families make to increased enrolment and retention (especially of girls) and parents’ participation in school governance and extra-curricula activities. The experience can be scaled up with the inclusion of other civil society groups apart from parents ; for example, women’s and youth groups, to create a veritable mobilization of communities in support of the education sector. It can also be extended to other countries.

Institutions of Higher Education

WGCOMED is partnering with a number of national universities and training institutes in Africa and in particular with institutions such as University of Nairobi’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies in South Africa, and the CFPJ and ESJ-International Schools of Journalism in France to develop its strategic tool-kit that will build on good practices from country case studies to enhance effective coverage of education issues in African countries.

Expert consultants

Also through collaboration with expert consultants from African universities and training institutes in Africa, WGCOMED is developing this hands-on tool-kit that will be used primarily for training journalists and communications officers within the ministries of education. The tool-kit will enable journalists and communications officers to enhance their dialogue with Ministers of Education, senior officials at policy level, and funding partners to work together to include communication components in education policies and programs, thus ensuring greater visibility and increased public support.

The World Bank, UN Organizations and other ADEA Working Groups

WGCOMED is working with specialized divisions at the World Bank and UNESCO. Other partnerships include that with the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) Secretariat in New York and FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists based in Nairobi, Kenya to ensure that the gender dimension issues are fully covered in WGCOMED programs and activities. Since communication is a cross-cutting issue, WGCOMED seeks opportunities to collaborate with other ADEA Working Groups. WGCOMED is currently working closely with the Working Group on Non-Formal Education, the Working Group on Higher Education, and the Working Group on the Teaching Profession, and is expected to work very closely with the newly constituted Working Group on Educational Management and Policy Support.

Donors and Foundations

WGCOMED activities have so far been funded by the World Bank through the Global Development Fund, GDF, and the Norwegian Education Trust Fund, NETF. In 2006, at the expiration of NETF, WGCOMED submitted a funding proposal to its successor, the Education Project Development Fund, EPDF. The request was approved for financing core program activities and some media coverage of education events in Africa. WGCOMED will support media activities in the Education For All – Fast Track Initiative, and has sought further funding from EPDF to support program objectives, strategies and activities in 2009. In addition, proposals for medium term resource mobilization and partnerships have been developed by the WGCOMED Secretariat for support from other donors and Foundations. The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) based in Johannesburg, South Africa has provided financial support for the development of the WGCOMED tool kit, while partnerships are being established with DSTV – Multi Choice Africa, also based in Johannesburg. Partnership is expected to be established with the California-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support communication programs that focus on quality education at the country level.