JA Zimbabwe Executive Director, Phil Mlambo, represented JA Africa at the Global Education & Skills Forum, an initiative of the Varkey Foundation held from 12 – 13 March in Dubai. The Forum brought together an estimated 1600 delegates; among them, 28 ministers of Education and 2 deputy presidents among several governments’ Education officials. Dr Fareed Zakaria, Anchor, CNN-GPS, was also present as a plenary speaker.
The theme for the Forum was “Taking Greater Collective Responsibility for Public Education”. This was motivated by the fact that there are millions of children out of school and 500,000,000 in “failing schools”.
Breakout sessions were primarily focused on public education, the motivation of teachers, the role of teachers, governments and non-state actors in funding public education among related issues. The challenges in public education and the failure of governments to fulfill Millenium Development Goal #2 (achieving universal primary education) were also central in plenary discussions.
Speakers reiterated the point that Education should be everybody’s business. With regards to technology in education, research shows that it can amplify innovative teaching in Mathematics. However, sadly the high use of technology in schools leads to low reading ability by students and teachers also don’t feel that they will be rewarded if they are innovative. All representatives from governments, professional associations, businesses and families were urged to be involved in Education.
Another issue that came up was the fact that Innovators are sadly blocked out of the education solution as governments are not receptive to change and innovations. JA however, is challenging the status quo by offering innovative, appropriate and relevant programs to youth of all ages. It was agreed that there is need for Shared vision, Performance management, Frontline capacity and Delivery architecture amongs all parties.
While there was a lot of emphasis on teacher professionalism and helping governments deliver on the basics, the need for JA’s work was highlighted. The need for Life Skills, work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy is a critical piece and teachers have to be abreast of time with these changing needs.