UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova highlighted the key role of solid data to inform educational policy at the opening of the Ninth Session of the SACMEQ (Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality) Assembly of Ministers, held at the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning (Paris, France) on 3 November 2013.
Launched in 1995, SACMEQ has completed large-scale national research and training projects to assess the conditions of schooling and performance levels of learners and teachers in the areas of literacy, numeracy and knowledge about health. It also builds the capacities of educational planners to monitor and evaluate the quality of their basic education systems through technical training. SACMEQ also recently started technical cooperation with PASEC (CONFEMEN Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems), which is leading to increased exchange of research methodologies and will facilitate the comparison of future assessment results.
“The results of SACMEQ projects have profound implications,” said the Director-General. “They provide us with a picture of the teaching and learning taking place in school systems. They confirm that socio-economic background and location are key causes for disparities in learning achievement. They show that bolder action must be taken to address the gender gap in learning outcomes. They underline the fundamental role of teachers.” She further noted that “in countries suffering from some of the world’s highest HIV rates, SACMEQ projects show that prevention education programmes are not working as effectively as they should be. In all of this, SACMEQ is helping to shine light on the challenges we must address together, for sustainable development across Africa,” also drawing attention to the importance of integrating educational equity and quality in the post-2015 development agenda.
The Ninth Session of the SACMEQ Assembly of Ministers was attended by Ministers and representatives from 16 countries – Angola being the most recent to join the project. The Republic of South Africa, a member of SACMEQ, is among the eleven champion countries of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.