The Ministers of Education from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held their second conference in Ac by unesco2





January 9-10 2004 Accra, GHANA

The Ministers of Education from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) held their second conference in Accra, Ghana, from 9 to 10 January 2004. The Conference, jointly organized by the Ghanaian Ministry of Education, the Executive Secretariat of ECOWAS and UNESCO, was attended by the following countries : Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. The conference was opened by Senior Minister Hon. Mansgh who deputized for his Excellency John Agyekum Kufour, President of the Republic of Ghana, in the presence of the Director-General of UNESCO and the Executive Secretary of ECOWAS who was represented by the Deputy Executive Secretary, Integration Programmes. 1. Contents of the Conference :

Considering : The theme : “Education and Sub-regional Integration : Commitments and Perspectives”, a theme dictated by the strong commitment of Member States to pursue the major Education sector demand of our time : the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the Dakar Framework of Action for Education for All (EFA), the international commitment to which African countries have subscribed, especially through the implementation of the Decade of Education in Africa (DEA), Considering as well : The recommendations contained in the Declaration of Commitments on “Education for a New Africa” adopted by the Eighth Conference of African Ministers of Education (MINEDAF VIII), The imperatives of the African Union’s New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) to contribute to continuous formulation of a frame of reference for African educational policies, The ECOWAS Education Protocol recently approved by the ECOWAS Council and currently being considered for ratification by Member States of the Organization, The expert meeting which preceded the Ministers’ Conference took stock of the basic educational systems and polices in the ECOWAS region to highlight progress made and indicate the efforts to be made to guarantee all the citizens of ECOWAS their fundamental right to education, which is the basis for the development of the individual and the progress of the community. Desiring to translate strong commitment into concerted action : Ministers examined priority sub-regional programme proposals, especially in the following areas :


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Training of Teachers, Promotion of girls’ education, HIV-AIDS preventive education, Promotion of science and technology education, Promotion of technical education and vocational training, & Integrated development of early childhood education.

Ministers agreed : 1. To continue the process already initiated for the development of an overall frame of reference for African educational policies particularly in the context of NEPAD. In this regard, ECOWAS Ministers of Education committed themselves to accelerated action regarding policy development and harmonization as well as a closer articulation with the NEPAD Secretariat. To appeal to Algeria to give a higher profile to its leadership role in the development of the NEPAD Human Development Strategy. To mandate the Secretariat to develop a five-year Strategic Action Plan for education in the sub-region taking into consideration the multi-sectoral linkages of education and development including the eradication of poverty, An ECOWAS Education Fund be established on the model of the Peace Fund, using the proceeds of the newly agreed Community Levy as well as other funding sources to promote education development in the sub-region, To mandate the Executive Secretariat of ECOWAS, the Executive Secretariat of the DEA and UNESCO to proceed with the mobilization of resources to implement the following priority programmes :

2. 3.



a) Sub-regional programme on distance education of teachers based on new technologies, b) Sub-regional support programme on HIV-AIDS preventive education, c) Sub-regional support programme on girls’ education, d) Sub-regional support programme on the teaching of science and technology, Finalization of sub-regional support programmes in the following areas.

The creation of a regional resource center for distance education and technologies of Information and Communication in West Africa The creation of a programme on the integrated development of early childhood The development of a five-year Strategic Action Plan for education in the sub-region taking into consideration the multi-sectoral linkages of education and development including the eradication of poverty,




The Ministers further welcomed and reached agreement on the following proposals :

The preparation and contribution to a medium term regional strategy for the development of education for the rural populations (ERP) in sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with ERNWACA, The preparation of a special programme on the use of local African languages in education, especially cross-border languages,


Additionally Minister made the following recommendations :

That further development of the projects should be build and capitalize on on-going initiatives in the region and relevant activities at the national level ; That the sub-region’s basic education framework should be defined to include a nine-year rather than a six-year period ; That UNESCO advocate with its partners at the international level to ensure that the comprehensive EFA should be adhered to and that the Fast Track Initiative be defined and implemented accordingly and in a manner that allows development partners to keep the promises made at Dakar 2000 to assist countries with relevant and credible plans with the funding of their EFA programmes ; That further dialogue be held with representatives of the Stay Alive Programme and United Families International /Reach the Children in order to arrive at a viable and relevant partnership in the crucial area of school-based HIV/AIDS preventive education.




Finally, Ministers expressed their satisfaction with the UNESCO ECOWAS Cooperation and congratulated the ECOWAS Secretariat and UNESCO as well as the various working groups (including the Mali-led working group on the Microscience project) regarding the quality of documents presented for their consideration. Working groups were urged to update the projects and programmes to take into account proposals made during the debate. Ministers expressed their deep appreciation to the Government people of Ghana for the detailed high quality arrangements made for hosting the meeting as well as for the kind hospitality extended to them during their stay. Finally, Ministers expressed their gratitude to the Director-General of UNESCO Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura for his participation as well as his personal commitment to provide concrete support for the development of capacity, not only at the national level, but through the building of sub-regional capacity for integration through education.


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