ADEA WGCOMED is moving to the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

On October 28, ADEA and one of its principal partners, the African Union Commission finalized an agreement that will enable the African Union Commission to host the ADEA Working Group on Communication for Education and Development (COMED). On that day, the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Martial De-Paul Ikounga and the Executive Secretary of ADEA, Ms. Oley Dibba-Wadda signed an addendum to the existing Memorandum of Understanding between ADEA and the African Union Commission. This new addition to the agreement has established the framework within which the Commission of the African Union will host COMED. ADEA is now relocating COMED to the Commission at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, to work closely with the Education Division under the Commission’s Department of Human Resources, Science, and Technology. 

This agreement will strengthen cooperation between the Commission and the Association according to the mandate of the two parties in areas that would promote communication in support of education and facilitate knowledge sharing while stimulating and sustaining a public debate on education issues across Africa and beyond.

This development has been well received by many ADEA and COMED stakeholders judging from the countless messages of congratulations and support received through COMED during the past few days.

As a key stakeholder in African education, contributing to the creation of an enabling environment for the significant changes and reforms needed for qualitative development of African education systems, ADEA has been effective in producing results with relatively limited means. ADEA is currently making it its business to ensure innovative advocacy and policy dialogue in all areas of education including where there have been several interventions in the past.

Under this Memorandum of Understanding, COMED will implement activities that include the development and implementation of a communication strategy for the post-2015 African education agenda. COMED will focus on the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 2016 – 2025), that links seamlessly with the global Sustainable Development Goals framework, as well as other important agenda and global programmes. COMED will function mainly as a ‘broker of ideas’ and a forum for knowledge sharing.

Its audience will include the diverse stakeholders of the post-2015 African education and related agenda. These will have programmes strategies comprising of analysis, advocacy and capacity building for journalists and other media practitioners and communicators at the country level to respond to urgent needs in Africa and to support communication structures in African countries to promote dialogue and consensus on education and related programmes and policies. The African Union Commission Headquarters’ Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology will host COMED. Through this hosting, it will be easier to ensure more visibility of the excellent work carried out by ADEA and the Commission. The Member States and stakeholders will then be enabled to acquire the needed information and knowledge that would give them full ownership of their global policies and frameworks, to enable them to participate in intra-African and global discussions.

With its base at the African Union Commission Headquarters in Addis Ababa, COMED will continue to draw on the expertise of different areas in its work. 
These will comprise mainly of ministries of education through their communication or information units ; media specialized in education reporting, trainers and communication researchers, and education specialists and development organizations involved in its areas of concern.

COMED has a vast network that consists of more than 1,200 journalists, communication experts, and members of NGOs and civil society organizations located in all the 54 member states of the African Union, and spread all over the five regions of the continent across Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone linguistic groups. There is a common understanding among members of the network and ADEA that they have to cover all education matters including ADEA and African Union Commission events in their different locations.

COMED is the only organization on the continent that has been active in fostering relationships with education journalists through capacity building of members of the network. Consequently, the networks have been instrumental in knowledge sharing and stimulating and sustaining a public debate on education issues in many African countries.

Under this agreement with the Commission of the African Union, COMED will continue to provide communication support to education on the continent, through its existing networks of communicators, and will seek reliable and tangible solutions to the fresher issues and challenges in education in Africa.

Although Africa is clearly on the path of socio-economic transformation, recording over the last decade an economic growth rate of around 5% per year, the pace and pattern of economic growth in Africa have not permitted significant social progress. The hypothesis being put forward here is that Africa’s lack of development relates to the poor performance of its education and training systems.

Education and training are certainly not the only factors but are a necessary condition and prominent ones. The inadequate provision, quality and external effectiveness of education and training in Africa is failing to produce human capital capable of driving the necessary structural reforms necessary. It is, therefore, important that education brings together the interests and activities of a wide range of stakeholders in Africa. 

These include cooperating partners, learning institutions, learners, leaders, communities, civil society groups, and the media. The communication dimension is increasingly featuring as a core business in strategic planning in education, ensuring its comprehensiveness and inclusiveness, with style and content that enhances dialogue in promoting all aspects of teaching and learning. Communication strategies support education policies and their implementation among communities, civil society groups, the media, leaders, and cooperating partners. Information sharing, consensus and confidence building and advocacy and social mobilization all recognize the need to work together.

This agreement between ADEA and the African Union Commission is, therefore, being effected at an opportune moment when communication to promote education and development has a significant role to play in fostering a better understanding of governments, donors, civil society, communities and parents on the continent.

In 1988, a group of education stakeholders, mainly from the donor community, established the Association for the Development of Education in Africa. This Association has developed from a donors’ forum created to enhance the coordination of donor activities into a broad-based forum for consultation, cooperation and policy dialogue. Today, it brings together African education ministries, development agencies, foundations, NGOs, researchers and education specialists, whose common ground lies in the contributions they make to education in Africa. ADEA is now a key stakeholder in African education and contributes to the creation of an enabling environment for the dynamic changes and reforms needed for the qualitative development of African education systems. COMED started on an experimental basis in 1998 that supported a new initiative to promote the use of communication in support of education in Africa.