The Institute for Educational Planning and Administration (IEPA), a UNESCO Category II Centre at the University of Cape Coast, joined 15 global UNESCO Category II Centres for Education to dialogue and recommend a road map to achieving the UNESCO Medium-term Strategy for 2022-2029 (41/C/4) and United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.
The virtual meeting highlighted the fact that five years since the adoption of SDGs, progress made globally to their achievement has been “too slow”. It also observed that the unprecedented global health crisis (COVID-19) has exacerbated the educational gap while intensifying various social problems, including prejudice, hatred, xenophobia and disinformation.
Before the pandemic, it was estimated that in 2030 more than 200 million children will still be unable to complete school; unfortunately, COVID-19 has worsened the situation with now more than 90% of students being out of school due to the school closures around the globe. Also, technological and economic disparities have further intensified the inequalities in education.
The meeting noted positively that the current pandemic has greatly highlighted the centrality of global solidarity and cooperation in tackling critical problems threatening the peace and well-being of all, and in addressing limitations of global education systems and the challenges in realising SDG 4 in particular.
It was in the spirit of this positivity that the virtual conference was organised by the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU), South Korea. Strategically, APCEIU formed a Technical Working Group months before the meeting with members from the UNESCO Category II Centres for Education, to study the UNESCO Medium-term Strategy for 2022-2029 (41/C/4) and come up with recommendations for adoption. All the Category II Centres for Education present at the meeting adopted the recommendations and pledged commitment to the action plans. The recommendations will be presented to UNESCO for consideration.
The recommendations centred on: Inclusive Education; Early Childhood Care Education; Higher Education and TVET; Adult Education; Capacity Building of Educational Professionals; Global Citizenship Education; Climate Change Education; and Education in Emergencies.
IEPA pledged to prioritise evidence-driven policies, programmes and processes that assist governments of the member-states in West Africa, civil society organisations (CSOs) and stakeholders in education, in promoting and ensuring equitable, quality, inclusive and sustainable education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. Additionally, IEPA committed to ensuring that its programmes and strategies are underpinned to reflect principles of gender equality, non-discrimination, accessibility and inclusivity.
Speaking on IEPA’s commitment to see to realisation of the UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy for 2022-2029 (41 C/4), the Director-General of IEPA, Dr. Michael Boakye-Yiadom, had this to say: “IEPA is excited to lead the implementation of this strategy in the West African sub –region, and we believe that in the spirit of inclusivity all ministries of education within the region will work together on reducing to the barest minimum inequality in education provision and learning.”
It is worth noting that IEPA was recently established as a UNESCO Category II Centre for the West African sub-region to harness research and innovation to boost development and build related capacities. It is also to network for collaborative work on the priority areas of UNESCO within the West African sub-region.
IEPA’s establishment as a UNESCO Category II Centre is a testament to the government of Ghana’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.