NAIROBI – Fifty-four Education Ministers from the Commonwealth, including those from the Caribbean, are among top policymakers set to meet here later this month to discuss pressing education challenges at a time the world is recovering from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosted by the Government of Kenya in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Kenya’s Ministry of Education, the 21st Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) scheduled for April 27-28 will take place under the theme, ‘Rethinking Education for Innovation, Growth and Sustainability post-Covid-19’.
Its main objective is to discuss key education priorities within the 54-member Commonwealth geared towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The conference will bring together ministers, senior government officials, educators, development partners, civil society, and policymakers to share knowledge and good practices in education as the world recovers from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants will also identify areas of action and explore innovative approaches that can be adapted by member countries to develop sustainable and resilient education systems.
Speaking ahead of the conference, Commonwealth Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland said the pandemic has already taken so much, we must act now to prevent it from taking away the human right to education.
“Over the last two years, we have seen COVID-19 rob people around the world of their loved ones, livelihoods and so many of the usual certainties and comforts of everyday life.
“Its impact on young people has been especially distressing with millions of students seeing their education disrupted – schools and universities were closed, and students were forced to learn from home as a result of lockdown measures, which have also further exacerbated existing inequalities, especially among girls and marginalized communities,” she said.
“The theme of the 21st CCEM is timely and reminds us that now more than ever, it is important that our Commonwealth family comes together to re-evaluate the status quo and work towards building a more prosperous and thriving Commonwealth for our young people.
“To this end, the Secretariat will continue working with member countries, stakeholders, and partners, as part of its commitment to advancing Sustainable Development Goal 4 and strengthening education systems and policies across the Commonwealth.”
Incoming Chair of the Education Ministerial Action Group (EMAG) and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Professor George Magoha, said after the COVID-19 pandemic brought education systems across the world to a near standstill, with low-income countries were especially hit hard, recovery is vital.
“With the future of our children and young people on the line, we need to work together to build back better and refocus on investing in inclusive and equitable quality education,” he said.
“We must build resilient education systems that can address emerging issues and withstand future crises as part of measures to minimize and protect learning from disruption.”
With only eight years left to meet the SDG 4 of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, a key objective of the conference will be to review and assess the progress towards achieving this goal, at regional and national levels.
The conference will also assess the existing commitments and outcomes from the 2018 CCEM in Fiji, and the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London, to leave no one behind, with an emphasis on equitable and inclusive education and supporting marginalized groups. Some of these groups include young girls, and those from disadvantaged communities who are targeted through appropriate policies, advocacy and strategic partnerships.
For the first time, proceedings of this year’s conference will adopt a hybrid format with Ministers of Education invited to take part in the physical meeting in Nairobi, while those unable to travel to Kenya will participate virtually via an online platform. Outcomes on policy proposals from this meeting will inform discussions at the upcoming CHOGM expected to take place in June in Kigali, Rwanda. (CMC)