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       1. Background and Context

Education and training remain among the bedrock of tools for human empowerment inclusive prosperity and progressive development. However, this powerful agency of education does not happen by chance. It has to be planned and strategized through adoption of innovation in education. Current demographic trends in Africa have seen expansion of education infrastructure without necessarily solving some of the critical barriers to education access for disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

Specific programmes and policies have to be developed and implemented to remedy this challenge and innovative financing options have to be found to sustain these initiatives. Education and training must be seen as everyone’s business, and the government’s debt of duty to its present and future citizens. Use must be made of every resource, indigenous, international, new and emerging technologies to enhance the quality of education provision and learning outcomes.

This must be done urgently in order to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves in Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as unpacked in the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25), whose mission is to “Reorient Africa’s education and training systems to meet the knowledge, competencies, skills innovation and creativity required to nurture African core values and promote sustainable development at the national, sub-regional and continental levels.”

Innovating Education in Africa is therefore at the centre of CESA’s implementation as access to education should remain responsive in the face of rapid societal changes. Indeed, this urgency of innovation towards increasing access for the unreached and partially reached has been realised in some quarters among education dreamers and providers. Amazing cutting-edge innovations on micro and relatively large scale are being piloted and pre-scaled, some of which have arisen out of sheer need and socio-economic challenges, while others have been more deliberate. Reports abound on successful use of e-learning platforms, from the humble mobile phone to sophisticated computers that are breaking traditional barriers and providing opportunities of access to education at all levels; opportunities that had seemed beyond reach.

This includes those who for socio-economic reasons could not afford schooling, persons living with disabilities for whom conventional education methods cannot suffice for their education, child mums who have to take care of their babies during regular learning hours, and other second chance learners who cannot stop work in order to attend school, etc. Innovations for promoting access include social innovations and strategies to rescue those who are denied opportunities, strategies to provide the support that poor parents need in order to release their children for school; strategies to broaden religious school curricula so that children acquire functional literacy and numeracy skills in the process. The list goes on of interventions that enhance the convenience of accessing learning.

In light of this context, the African Union Commission (AUC) in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and several Development Partners across Africa will hold the Innovating Education in Africa Expo 2020 with the theme ‘Leveraging opportunities to reach the unreached with Quality Education and Training’ to showcase technical and social innovations in every area of education and training. Since its inception in 2018, the Innovating Education in Africa Expo has continued to gather momentum and established itself as the leading Pan-African event promoting the adoption of Education Innovations in Africa.

Furthermore, the event directly contributes to the "1 Million By 2021 Initiative” of the AUC Chairperson which aims at concretely reaching millions of African youth from across the continent with opportunities and interventions in the key areas of Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship and Engagement in order to accelerate socioeconomic development on the continent.

 

  1. Objectives

The purpose of this event is to establish a multisectoral platform for experience sharing on relevant innovations that address education challenges in Africa. The event is also aimed at raising the visibility of these innovative practices in order that they can be supported, up-scaled, replicated or further developed by AU Member States.

The following specific objectives are intended to be achieved:

  • Provide a platform for education practitioners, policy makers, business sector and partners to exchange experiences, policies and challenges in enhancing education access through adopting home grown innovative solutions in Africa.
  • Identify, profile and showcase innovative education solutions across the continent for possible support including further development and replication.
  • Encourage and enhance research and innovation in education.
  • Encourage the involvement of the private sector in increasing access to education and training.
  • Propose a framework for development of strategies for innovation in education.
  • Advocacy for education innovation and strengthened support to continental collaboration in innovation and adaptation.

 

  1. Participants

About 800 participants are expected to attend the event including, among others: The President of the Republic of Rwanda; Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology of the African Union Commission; Ministers in charge of Education and Training in AU Member States; Experts and Practitioners in Education and Training from AU Member States, Regional Economic Communities and Development Partners; Education Innovators; and Private Sector representatives.

  1. Key Partners

Key Partners supporting the organisation of this event include the European Union, GIZ, Mastercard Foundation Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT, UNICEF and ONE Campaign.

 

  1. Date, Venue and Format

The Innovating Education in Africa Expo 2020 shall be hosted by the Government of the Republic of Rwanda at Kigali from 19-21 August 2020.

The event will include exhibition of 40 promising education innovations from across the continent, Ministerial dialogue, Expert Panel discussions, Keynote Presentations, Parallel Sessions, Pitching Sessions, etc.

Innovations will be identified through a Call for Submissions published at the continental level.

 

  1. Expected Outputs

The outputs of the Expo will include:

  • Expo Report: a summary of key findings, policy messages and developmental relevance distilled from conference papers, innovations and keynote speeches;
  • Education Innovators handbook: collection of innovations that will be exhibited during the event, providing information on the innovators and their contacts;
  • Expanded Membership of the Africa Education Innovators Network (AEIN).

 

  1. Expected Outcomes

A follow-up mechanism has been developed to pilot the Innovations that are identified through this event in AU Member States, using existing public education systems and infrastructure. The following outcomes are therefore expected.

  • Education best practices adopted and replicated in AU Member States;
  • Innovators equipped with the right knowledge and technical support to build more robust, sustainable and effective business/social models.