On 22nd September 2021, the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) through its Inter-Country Quality Node on Early Childhood Development (ICQN-ECD) and in collaboration with Together for Early Childhood Evidence, hosted a two-hour webinar on Early Childhood Education (ECE) Quality Assurance Systems (QAS) for Africa with about 90 participants from 32 countries and partner organisations.
Even though much progress has been made in early childhood development in Africa, quality assurance systems remain a critical issue.
In her welcoming remarks, Maya Soonarane, ADEA ICQN-ECD Coordinator, highlighted the need for organizing such events to facilitate experience sharing, learning and updates about the QAS that are being implemented by various countries in Africa. Hon. Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Education in Mauritius, called on all stakeholders to increase their commitment to providing quality assurance and standardization. She highlighted how the private sector had a “huge share” in the provision of early childhood education, and the need for the state to be more involved in developing standards and monitoring and tracking their effective application.
Kate Anderson, project lead for DeliverEd at the Education Commission, presented a guide on early childhood education quality assurance systems for Africa, and Dr. Abbie Raikes, Director of Global Early Childhood Development at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and founder of ECD Measure, shared a summary of country survey results on early childhood education quality assurance systems.
Anderson invited governments to use service standards to define what good quality looks like in their country while considering equity and sustainability. To develop a quality assurance system, it was suggested that a country must (1) define the purpose, (2) identify, develop or adapt service quality standards, (3) design the quality assurance system that meets the country’s needs and (4) ensure the political, institutional and financial stability.
Dr. Abbie presented the results from the survey on quality assurance systems in which 15 countries from all African regions participated. The results revealed that: 89% reported that standards are in place, 56% reported that standards have been shared with all teachers and 20% report that all teachers have been trained on the standards. Almost all countries are monitoring for aspects beyond health/safety alone, 78% have a monitoring system and 47% indicated that monitors have fewer than 10 facilities to visit monthly.
The third segment was dedicated to engaging on country experiences shared by colleagues from Burkina Faso, Morocco and Seychelles.
In Burkina Faso, Lucien Hien, early childhood education inspector and technical advisor to the Minister of Education, said there was currently no agency responsible for quality assurance at the Ministry of National Education. He said many in the sector, especially in government, were unaware of the existing regulations, and few resources were allocated to monitoring and evaluation. Hence the need to create awareness on quality assurance through forums and sensitization campaigns.
In Morocco, Abdeljalil Benzouina, Head of the Central Pre-School Education Unit at the Ministry of Education, stated that the environment for early childhood education is highly productive and well structured, being embedded in the Kingdom’s constitution, the 2015-2030 strategic vision and national laws. However, the presenter indicated the high dropout rate among early childhood education teachers because of few career incentives.
In the Seychelles, Shirley Choppy, CEO of the Institute for Early Childhood Development, indicated that there was a strong legal framework, national standards for Childminding and operational multi-sectoral coordination among the government, the private sector and partner agencies. However, there is limited training and professional development of regulatory professionals, combined with a lack of systematic approach and integrated structure for data collection on ECD.
During a discussion moderated by Daniel Baheta, Chief of Education at UNICEF Tanzania, most participants reinforced the need for teacher training in quality assurance and the need to make data-driven decisions. The issue of funding was raised and it was suggested to increase allocations in national budgets and mobilize funding from external partners.
The meeting was closed by Albert Nsengiyumva, ADEA Executive Secretary, who encouraged regular advocacy and exchange of best practices between African countries and emphasized the need for greater cross-sectoral partnerships with stakeholders in government, NGOs, parents, and teachers.
Regular updates on the ICQN-ECD can be found here: https://ecd.adeanet.org/