UNESCO-IICBA and the 14th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa

Date: July 14, 2016

On July 12-13th, 2016 the 14th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa was held at the African Union Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference, which has been organized by St. Mary’s University since its inception, had the theme of: “The Role of Private High Education Institutions (PHEIs) in Sustainable Development.”

Over 120 professors, teachers, higher education administrators, researchers, and development workers attended the conference, including the guest of honor, the Honorable Mr. Shiferaw Shigute, from the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia.  The keynote speakers were Dr. Jegede former Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU) and Dr. Teferra, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Also in attendance were individuals from Saint Mary’s University (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), the African Union Commission (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), UNESCO-IICBA (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), the Federal Ministry of Education in Ethiopia, the US Mission to the African Union, Makerere University (Uganda), the Islamic University (Uganda), and Karatina University (Kenya).

UNESCO-IICBA played an important role throughout the conference, most notably seen in presentations by UNESCO-IICBA’s Director Dr. Yokozeki and Project Officer Dr. Temechegn. Mr. Hook and Mr. Kardos of UNESCO-IICBA also played a role in the conference as rapporteurs.

During Dr. Yokozeki’s welcoming address, she highlighted the importance of teacher development in creating successful education programs in Africa. Additionally, she emphasized the key role education plays in the new SDGs. Dr. Yokozeki was also a member of a panel discussion on PHEIs and sustainable development, where she shared many ideas about the importance of autonomy and innovation in the 21st century. In order for this innovation and learning to continue, she stated there is a need for motivated teachers and that “to be a teacher is a life-long process.”

Dr. Temechegn presented during a breakout session focusing on regional institutions, higher education, teacher development, and quality and sustainability. He presented research that he and Dr. Yokozeki conducted titled: The Role of Universities in Supporting the Professional Development of Secondary School Teachers Serving Both Refugee and Host Communities: The Case of South Sudan. Throughout his presentation, Dr. Temechegn highlighted the major issue of the provision of quality education in refugee camps and communities.  He also talked about specific teacher and resource issues in these areas, discussing how teachers are often underqualified, that curriculum is non-existent/absent and that teachers are often unable or unwilling to collaborate to enhance their teaching and learning. In response to these findings, he laid out a number of recommendations including: improved general pedagogy, gender issues training, and life skills education for all teachers; improved subject matter for science and math teachers; and the better use of ICT in teaching-learning science and math.

Other presentations at the conference focused on making private higher education more affordable, increasing the quality and quantity of instruction and research at higher education institutions, how to promote gender equality and equity, and how to better teach employable skills and entrepreneurship.  At the end of the two-day conference, participants came together and revised an action plan to provide direction for the upcoming year and make known their interests and intended actions to the general public. Overall, the 14th International Conference on Private Higher Education in Africa was a great success.