May 5-9, 2008
Welcome | Background | Program | Side Meetings | Papers | Powerpoint presentations during the Biennale | Press | Practical Information | ADEA Home | 2006 Biennale - Libreville | En français 

The Biennales on Education in Africa

The Biennale on Education in Africa is the most important educational event in the region, in terms of both participation and content of the discussions, bringing together in a single venue all the stakeholders working on behalf of education in Africa. The meeting is attended by ministers of education and training of all countries in Africa, senior representatives of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, academics and practitioners from foundations, research networks, NGOs and civil society organizations. The last Biennale, held in Gabon in March 2006, was attended by nearly 500 participants, including 41 ministers and deputy ministers.

The first Biennales were held in Europe, but since 1997 they have taken place in Africa (Dakar in 1997, Johannesburg in 1999, Arusha in 2001, Grand Baie in 2003, Libreville in 2006). Traditionally, the meetings are opened by two heads of state, that of the host country and that of another African country.

Exceptional venues for policy dialogue

The main purpose of the Biennales, which are the high point in the Association's activities, is to encourage and foster frank, open dialogue on a priority theme relating to the development of education. This policy dialogue is informed by solid analytical work and many contributions from African countries, their technical and financial partners, and research networks in Africa and other regions of the world, including the ADEA Working Groups.

The discussions within ADEA and at the Biennales are characterized by a professional and developmental approach that enables participants to learn from one another and to promote the shared understandings that form the basis for dynamic, productive partnerships.

Topical and forward-looking themes

Each Biennale focuses on a theme that is critical to the development of education in Africa. Since 1991, the following themes have been explored by the Biennales:

1991 Textbook provision and library development in Africa Manchester, United Kingdom
1993 Improving the Implementation of Education Projects in Africa through Ownership Angers, France
1995 Formulating Educational Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa Tours, France
1997 Partnerships for Capacity Building and Quality Improvements in Education in Africa Dakar, Senegal
1999 What works and Whats new in Education : Africa Speaks! Johannesburg, South Africa
2001 Reaching Out, Reaching All--Sustaining Effective Policy and Practice for Education in Africa Arusha, Tanzania
2003 The Quest for Quality: Learning from the African Experience Grand Baie, Mauritius
2006 More and Better Education. What Makes Effective Learning in Schools and in Literacy and Early Childhood Development Programs? Libreville, Gabon

The 2008 Biennale: Focus on Post-Primary Education

The 2008 Biennale on Education in Africa is scheduled to be held in Maputo, Mozambique, from May 5 to 9, 2008.

In light of the significant progress Africa has made toward achieving universal primary education, the 2008 Biennale will focus on post-primary education and training, one of the greatest challenges facing African education systems today. The 2008 Biennale will present to the African educational community the most recent tools, knowledge and practices that are liable to bring continent-wide progress in post-primary education.

The holistic, integrated and diversified approach adopted by ADEA will allow wide-ranging exploration of post-primary education, defined as:

  • Referring to learning opportunities available to children and young persons having completed primary schooling or equivalent (e.g. non-formal basic education);
  • Being open-ended, i.e. including lower and upper secondary education as well as the articulation between upper secondary and higher education;
  • Starting at 11/12 years of age (for the Biennale, no upper limit on the age group has been set);
  • Including all forms of learning (e.g. non-formal), all modes of delivery (e.g. distance learning, apprenticeship), and all types of settings (e.g. community schools, work sites);
  • Covering traditional "general" secondary education, development of life skills and key competencies, and technical and vocational education and training;
  • Preparing young people for life, society, work and further occupational learning. It provides theoretical and practical knowledge for personal development, citizenship and participation in community development, employability, entrepreneurship, and the ability to go on to higher education and/or lifelong learning;
  • Relying on a multiplicity of providers (the state, civil society, NGOs, private education/training providers, employers, and all forms of partnerships among providers) and drawing upon a multiplicity of resources (physical, human and financial).

    Three aspects of post-primary education will be explored:
    o Towards 9-10 years Education For All: Promising Policies and Strategies
    o Skills Development and the World of Work: Challenges for Education and Training
    o Preparing Knowledge Workers for Africa's Development: Articulating Upper Secondary with Higher Education

    For each of these sub-themes, a set of cross-cutting issues will be addressed: policy and governance; financing (resources, needs and sustainability); access and equity; education and training personnel; curriculum and skills development; articulation and assessment.

    A participatory preparation process

    The first discussions and deliberations on the theme of post-primary education took place within the framework of the ADEA Ad Hoc Working Group on Post-Primary Education (WGPPE), created in November 2004 to meet the growing need in this area. Since then, education specialists, academics and practitioners have been at work preparing for the Biennale.

    To elicit active preparation and participation from both African countries and their partners, the methodology developed is based on the analysis, sharing and exchange of acquired experience and knowledge concerning post-primary education. Adhering to its praxis approach, ADEA set a number of objectives for this participatory exercise: (i) to adopt a very broad viewpoint in studying relevant policies, strategies and practices, taking into account the specific contexts to which they belong; (ii) to identify African solutions developed by African countries in response to African problems related to post-primary education; (iii) to encourage, through the exchange of ideas, the emergence of more fertile political visions and commitments.

    The syntheses of the theme and sub-themes will be drawn from two principal sources: analysis of country experiences (case studies defined and conducted by African countries) and a literature review to identify themes relating directly to post-primary education. More than one hundred studies have been initiated in education ministries, research networks, cooperation and development agencies, and the ADEA Working Groups to provide material for the discussions at the Biennale. The aim of this is to ensure that the policy dialogue in Maputo will be firmly anchored in research, actual practice and experience.

    2008: a turning point in ADEA's history

    The 2008 Biennale will also celebrate an important new stage in the history of ADEA, since the year 2008 marks a major milestone in the life of the Association:
    - 2008 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of ADEA's founding;
    - 2008 will be the year in which the ADEA Secretariat is transferred to African soil;
    - 2008 will see the launch of the first ADEA Medium-Term Strategic Plan (2008-2012);
    - the 2008 Biennale will also welcome, for the first time, the countries of North Africa, following the decision made in 2007 to extend the scope of ADEA activities to cover all of Africa.

    A celebration of the 20th anniversary is planned during the Biennale, during which, among other things, a film on ADEA will be screened. The film will retrace the main stages in the life of ADEA, as well as its achievements and the lessons learned during 20 years of service to educational development in Africa.

    Side events

    In addition to the celebration of ADEA's 20th Anniversary, a number of other side events will take place. As is custom, the Caucus of African Ministers of Education will meet the day before the Biennale work sessions start and ADEA Working Groups will seize the opportunity of the exceptional gathering to hold their own meetings. The Akintola Fatoyinbo Education Journalism Award will also award the winners of the 5th Edition and launch the next competition. Participants will also have the opportunity to view an exhibition on secondary education and a prospective vision of Africa's development. Book launches and other events are also likely to take place.