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The Commitment of Higher Education to EFA

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Presentation by Djeneba Traore, Director General, West Africa Institute (WAI), Cape Verde, at International Association of Universities Conference 'From HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements',
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
8 - 9 October 2015 - Barcelona, Spain

Presentation by Djeneba Traore, Director General, West Africa Institute (WAI), Cape Verde, at International Association of Universities Conference 'From HEEFA to SDG4: Building on Achievements',
Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site
8 - 9 October 2015 - Barcelona, Spain

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The Commitment of Higher Education to EFA

  1. 1. 1 The Commitment of Higher Education to EFA Statement of the HEEFA Workshop at the Hacettepe University Ankara, Turkey, on 18-19 November 2014 The HEEFA Project is a unique and innovative process that started in Maputo, Mozambique in 2007 at the IAU Experts Seminar titled: “Higher Education and Education For All: The Case of Two Solitudes?” The meeting was the response of a real and urgent need for exploration of the linkages between higher education and the EFA initiative. Further to its holding, several actions were undertaken in order to build a bridge between the two education levels, notably:  An international Reference Group was created;  An Information kit was drafted and published to both address and answer the questions of what is EFA, why and how should HE get involved; where can HE activities be developed, and who is engaged?  The collaborative HEEFA Portal and the HEEFA Newsletter were set up to respond to the request of more information sharing, and  The collaborative workshop “A three-step activity to envision higher education for Education for All to the request of developing capacity building activities” took place. EFA, as scheduled by the UN agenda of 2000, will end in December 2015. EFA achievements are remarkable, but it must be underlined that any goal has been fully reached and in addition, new issues (for instance ICT4ALL; innovative learning and teaching; paradigm change in the relationships between teachers & students) have emerged requiring immediate international responses based on research works). In order to pursue the efforts carried out, the UN has drafted a new development agenda, called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 adopted in September 2015. To date, the SDG Working Group outcome document has defined 17 sustainable development goals, with one focusing on education including Universities for the first time. The education goal is Goal 4. It aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities for all. Universities are cited in target 4.3. The 2015 World Education Forum of May 2015 has set the international education agenda to 2030 marking the end of the Dakar Framework for Action. Aligned with the UN post 2015 development agenda - ratified during the 68th session UN General Assembly, in September 2014 - this new framework will be the culminating result of several conferences and events which outcomes will feed into the WEF discussions. To specially underline the growing significance of the involvement of Higher Education in the EFA process, a HEEFA workshop was organized at the Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey, from 18-19 November 2014. The participants to the workshop expressed their full engagement for EFA and emphasized the following key reasons:
  2. 2. 2 1. Through its triple-pronged mission of teaching, research and outreach/community service, higher education has potentially much to offer to the realization of the EFA and MDG targets, through its triple-pronged mission of teaching, research. 2. Education requires an holistic approach, its different levels being inter-related and interdependent. 3. Multi stakeholder partnerships are the way forward given that the success of EFAand MDGs will impact on all sectors of society, therefore a constructive dialogue on how to meet these objectives is highly recommended. 4. Local challenges are best solved locally. To this effect, academics and researchers can draw on long-standing experience of international exchanges and comprehensive networks to access and adapt expertise from elsewhere to local needs. 5. Higher Education involvement in EFA inevitably and equally serves the HE sector: Making solid contributions to EFA and MDGs will improve higher education’s overall image, at times still considered as isolated in an ivory tower. Furthermore, HE needs to study and plan for the impact of achieving EFA and MDGs on its own absorptive capacity and develop policies to meet the challenge of increased numbers of secondary-school graduates and adults seeking (continuing) their education. The question now is: How can concretly Higher Education get involved in the achievement of the EFAand MDGs? The participants to the Ankara workshop made following proposals : As a Higher Education institution or research center, it is possible to encourage, promote, and lead research projects, teach and create a link with the local communities in order to offer services related to the different areas which contribute to meeting the EFA and MDGs goals; As a faculty, department, or laboratory, Higher Education can develop new research projects and encourage students to undertake post-graduate research in EFA/MDGs. As an HE professor or researcher, it is possible to teach, to conduct research projects and carry out community service activities to issues related to EFA or MDGs. They can also create awareness of these initiatives and stimulating dialogue with students; HE professors and researchers can also participate in conferences and capacity building programmes related to EFA and MDGs. The contribution of HE students can also be relevant. Indeed, they can choose a research theme linked to EFA and MDGs’ issues. They can ask questions or consider how learning and research in any field being undertaken may relate to the challenges of EFA and MDGs and finally, they can participate in community service activities related to EFA and MDGs. It is obvious that HE can bring a relevant contribution to the realization of EFA and MCGs. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 by the UN shows that an important path has been carried out in this perspective. For the first time, further to the actions undertaken by the HEEFA Project in terms of advocacy and outcome sharing, the involvement of HE for EFA has been clearly required. In the solving process of EFA constraints and challenges, the expertise and potential of academics and researchers will be a great add value. However, the issue of how to fund an ambitious HEEFA research program has to be solved.

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