Minister of Education Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima has told the world foundational learning is the backbone of future learning as such African governments must together chart a better future for their children.
The minister was speaking on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday during a foundational learning roundtable on the learning crisis in Africa hosted by the Human Capital Africa (HCA).
The event, which The Nation followed through Zoom, brought together current and former heads of State, ministers of education, business leaders, civil society organizations, and several distinguished African intellectuals from different sectors.
At the meeting, Wirima alongside Uganda’s State Minister of Basic Education Joyce Moriku represented the leadership of African governments that have taken ownership of the need to develop solutions that will address the learning crisis.
Wirima said Malawi has made significant advancements in taking a holistic approach to policy making that prioritises foundational learning.
“We recognise that the teacher is the most important part of the learning process, and we are improving training and deployment of teachers, ensuring that they are equipped to teach, and are deployed to the areas that need them most, especially rural areas,” she said.
The minister also said the country was enhancing school feeding programmes, targeting an expansion from 2200 to 6900 primary schools across the country.
“Finally, we recognise the importance of an integrated assessment framework to help guide us, and we have begun the process to harmonise our assessment tools, including the use of the HCA scorecard,” she said.
In July this year, Malawi launched pilot to gather information on HCA’s Micro-Learning Indicators and tested for literacy and numeracy skills.
“We are determined to continue this journey, in partnership with HCA, as we champion the need to collect data and use it to enhance transparency and accountability at all levels,” said Wirima.
HCA founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Obiageli Ezekwesili highlighted the need and urgency to address the fact that nine out of 10 children in Africa are unable to read with understanding by the age of ten.
“Every child deserves quality education and this can only be achieved if we all take responsibility and invest in foundational literacy and numeracy wherever we are,” she said.
On his part, CEO of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Mark Suzman said a great education was essential for a healthy future for all.
“Unlocking that potential starts with our children and young people, especially in Africa. By 2050, one in every four people on the planet will be African. Fifty per cent of the African population will be under 25. Many of the people who will transform the continent and find solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges are children now,” he said.
The meeting was aimed at discussing the crucial role of foundational learning in enhancing education for the future of Africa and to highlight the leadership being demonstrated across the continent to tackle the issue.