The representatives of African Union Member States ministries of education gathered for the joint consultative meeting on the inclusion and the mainstreaming of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections (ACDEG) agreed on the urgent need to develop education syllabus that will lead to a democratic culture on the continent. This was reiterated during the closing ceremony of the meeting yesterday, 30th September 2015 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The three days of meeting were an opportunity for the participants to closely examine ACDEG and other AU shared value instruments as well as to identify the values to be promoted in school curricula. They also highlighted the necessity to spread the values of the Charter beyond leaders to ordinary African citizens and to establish curriculum on education for democracy to ensure the attainment of the AU vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena”.
The experts also focused on the ACDEG content to be mainstreamed within the school curricula. They agreed on 6 clusters including constitutionalism and the rule of law, democracy and human rights, culture and peace, governance institutions, elections and electoral processes, and political, social and economic issues.
Regarding the strategic orientation for the development and implementation of the programme, the experts discussed the technical and political processes to consider towards mainstreaming the values of the charter. They proposed the establishment of a panel of experts to develop standardized manual on the topics which will be validated, adopted and disseminated as well as a comprehensive model of training of trainers for Curriculum Implementers. Moreover, they recommended that AU should develop a comprehensive mechanism for lobbying and advocacy for all stakeholders and a method for monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
However, the ratification of the Charter by all African States should be speeded to ensure its full implementation in school curricula. AU Member States parties to the Charter were invited to prepare national sensitization programmes and to conduct periodic review on education policies.
In her closing remarks, H.E Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AUC recalled that the meeting was in line with the aspirations of Agenda 2063. She pointed out the fact that education is a key avenue to entrench the values of “The Africa we want”. She highlighted the important role the regional economic communities (RECs) will play in the harmonization of the curricula in their regions. Collaboration will also be a guarantee for experience sharing among Member States. Furthermore, the Commissioner declared that the use of alternative educational methods including the use of entertainment, which appeals to a great number of young people, should be considered.
“Very little can happen without political will. If there is no buy in from the government of a country, mainstreaming the Charter will be an uphill battle. As much as we may agree that it is a good idea to promote the values of democracy, governance and rule of law in Africa, lack of resources may be a challenge, especially where there is no political buy in”, concluded Dr. Aisha.
On behalf of Economic Community for West Africa States (ECOWAS), Dr. Remi Ajibewa, Director of Political affairs underscored the need of more cooperation in order to meet different challenges including the funding of these curricula. He further declared that the achievement of the goals of the meeting will pave the way towards sustainable peace and stability in Africa.
The representative of the Government of Nigeria, Mr. Olutayo Adeola, Director of programmes at the Federal Ministry of Education underlined that the mainstreaming of ACDEG in African education systems should come under structural policy of education. In that regard, he urged all delegations to provide a faithful and detailed account of the outcomes of the consultation to their respective relevant authorities and to go beyond the passive position of its promotion and become active vectors of information and communication of its values at all levels. He also called for an inclusive approach that will take into account the African people in its diversity: young and old, girls and boys, literate and non-literate, in and out of school.
The consultation was organized by the African Union Commission, in collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO). The outcome will be submitted for consideration to the inaugural meeting of the African Union Specialised Technical Committee (STC) (More information on STC on the African Union website www.au.int) on Human Resource and Science and Technology scheduled for last week of October.
About the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG)
The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance was adopted at the 8th Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly of Member States, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007. The Adoption of the Charter by African countries demonstrates the determination of the African Union and its Member States to promote and strengthen good governance through institutionalizing transparency, accountability and democracy. The Charter entered into force in February 2012 after the ratification of 15 AU member States. To date, only 24 Member States have ratified the Charter. 23 Member States have signed but not ratified and the remaining 7 have neither signed nor ratified. The State Parties to the Charter include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte-d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, and Zambia.