An African exercise: Strengthening the delivery of quality adult education through system building

The “Africa Adult Education System Building Workshop” took place from 30 September to 5 October 2019 in Ethiopia, with participants from 4 regional offices and 8 national offices of DVV International in Africa. Representatives from institutional partners of DVV International in those countries were also present.

The objective of the workshop was to initiate and to train the DVV International officers from the participating countries in the techniques and tools of the approach that is currently being implemented in Ethiopia, which is showing positive results and has been commended by their partners.

The approach identifies four key elements of a comprehensive adult education system: the enabling environment, the institutional arrangements, the management processes and the technical processes. Each element includes five central building blocks, such as policies, qualifications frameworks, monitoring and evaluation systems or curricula development. These elements and building blocks fall across the spheres and sectors of governance (micro, meso and macro), and acknowledge state and non-state actors.

The approach has its own conceptual frameworks, sets of tools, manuals, and guidelines, and these can be adapted to different contexts. The ultimate goal of the approach is to establish strong and sustainable adult education systems.

Participants Asma Jebri and Houssem Bel Hadj (Tunisia) share their impressions and takeaways of the workshop.

“If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together” (African proverb)

Insights from workshop participant Asma Jebri, Country Director of DVV International Tunisia

“In addition to the general introduction to the approach and its tools, the workshop was based on sharing adult education experiences and practices that have been implemented in each of the participating countries. Comparing the good practices in the current system in each country and learning from them, without any value judgment, was a high value exercise for me and my colleagues. We as participants were able to discover and acquire tools that could be used with and by stakeholders in the adult education system of our respective countries.

For me personally, the visit to a community learning centre (CLC) on the first day was one of the highlights, as it showed a striking concrete example of the involvement of all actors in adult education at national, regional and local level. The contribution of the local community in the implementation, operation and outreach of the CLC reflected a real integration at the vertical and horizontal levels, with a good division of roles and contributions between the different partners involved.

Sustainability of the DVV International interventions in Africa are closely linked to the implementation of the adult education system building approach, which is based primarily on peer review and stakeholder involvement. The conjunction of these two elements is the sine qua non for the success of the anchoring and the provision of this system in African countries.

The learning acquired on the approach, and its tools, allowed me to better structure the future implementation of the approach in Tunisia starting from 2020.”

“A challenging and instructive exercise

Insights from workshop participant Houssem Bel Hadj, Expert DVV International Tunisia

“I was very much looking forward to participating in the workshop; I had heard a lot about the system building approach and its tools and was excited to learn more. The primary expectation for us as participants was to acquire a common understanding about adult education system building and to learn how to use the system building tools in our own country’s context.

Sonja Belete, Regional Director of DVV International in East Africa, introduced the genesis of the adult education building system approach and tools, and co-presented, with Ethiopian DVV International colleagues and representatives from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, the case study of the Ethiopian adult education building system.

The four elements and the five prioritised building blocks for each element were presented and discussed during a plenary session. According to the system, the four elements and the twenty building blocks are linked to each other through a number of processes. During a challenging and instructive exercise, each regional DVV International team analysed and described the current adult education system and identified the links between the different blocks.

The approach enables us to assess the status of adult education in our countries and aims at building a long-term sustainable adult education system. The overall goal is a fully operating system with concretely oriented adult education services responding to the needs of the target groups.

Since the action-learning experience conducted in Ethiopia achieved phases 1 (Consensus Building) and 2 (Assessment and Diagnosis) of the approach, we focused on those two phases during the workshop. At the end of the workshop, we agreed to start implementing these two phases in 2020. After that, phase 3 (Alternatives Analysis and Design), phase 4 (Implement and Test) and phase 5 (Review, Adjust and Up-scale) will follow.

I am looking forward to the next workshop, which is planned for the end of 2020 in Morocco.”

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