Education in East Africa has been hit by the pandemic, environmental and climate change resulting into loss of life and a halt in teaching and learning. As a result, education experts and researchers are teaming up to building strong education practices to withstand and surpass crises. It is in this light that the Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development East Africa (AKU- IED, EA) through the Foundations for Learning project (F4L) convened a 3 days’ hybrid learning conference on February 1- 3, 2023 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Over 120 education stakeholders from the ministries of education, teacher training colleges, education regulatory bodies, high commissions and universities from Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, alumni and AKDN sister agencies attended the conference. The conference themed ‘Building Resilient Education Systems Beyond Crises’ aimed to provide a platform for education stakeholders and the three governments across East Africa i.e. Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to inform on the lessons learnt from various educational interventions specifically focusing on the Foundations for Learning (F4L) project so as to reflect, learn, and envision how the East African region can build resilient education systems emerging from the diversity of educational interventions.
"We must build systems that will be ready to deal with any situation when it happens so that we don't fail to provide education or learn because there is some kind of disaster. This will be done by preparing teachers to teach and use the development of science and technology to ensure delivery” emphasized Dr. Fredrick Mtenzi, conference chair, AKU-IED, EA.
The three days conference brought about crosscutting issues affecting education systems across East Africa such as; the use of technology in teaching and learning; gender inclusivity; Competency Based Curriculum etc. This was done through deliberations in plenary sessions, panel discussions, paper presentations, peer reflective studio’s and masterclasses whereby these issues where analyzed and possible solutions and recommendations were shared. It was evident that a teacher is key in unlocking these crosscutting issues.
Under the F4L project, our focus is on the teacher and the support that the teacher is provided at various levels to be effective. We strive to ensure that the college tutors are appropriately capacitated to develop champion teachers. We also believe very strongly in the complementarity of research and practice, and this is an approach we have employed in all our interventions, including the Foundations for Learning” Dr. Jane Rarieya, Dean, AKU - IED, EA.
Furthermore, in this technologically driven world one cannot shy away from integrating Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning. Evidently across the East African countries despite of the government efforts to use technology, there are still gaps that need to be addressed. Dr Margret Matonya, Director of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology's Inclusive Education Unit applauded AKU’s efforts in building capacities to teachers in ICT in the region. She said, “Inspite of the government efforts in building capacities for teachers in ICT, students’ progress in teaching and learning retreated especially for those with special needs during Covid 19 pandemic. The Foundations for Learning (F4L) project coincides with the Ministry of Education's efforts to strengthen the sector by upgrading teacher colleges for ICT training”.
A conference communique for policy consideration was launched on the last day of the conference summing up key challenges affecting education systems in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and beyond and offering recommendations for policy improvement, calling to action all the ministries of education in the aforementioned countries to transform their education systems through using contextually relevant research to create evidence based and responsive education programs.