Inadequate funding, inadequate teacher training and limited access to educational resources are among numerous challenges that Africa seems to be grappling with, concerning education systems. It was for these reasons that Professor Chika Sehoole, Chairperson of the Education Deans Forum (EDF), received a resounding YES from his fellow deans when he proposed a platform for deans of schools and faculties of education across the continent to meet and address these obstacles. This, after sounding the idea off some counterparts from a few African states.
The EDF is one of 11 active communities of practice within Universities South Africa (USAf). This group fosters research in education towards continuous improvement of teacher education; it promotes South Africa’s education interests by providing an outlet for deans to discuss matters of common concern in the delivery of teacher education, and, finally, the EDF brings to the attention of policymakers, emerging issues on Education as a discipline.
Professor Sehoole (right), Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria, describes the upcoming platform as one where African education deans will share experiences and best practices, discuss common challenges and collaborate on initiatives towards resolving those issues while supporting one another.
Having agreed on this pan-African forum, the EDF took the lead on the spadework towards establishing the Pan-African Deans of Education Forum(PADEF), whose focus will be in sub-Saharan Africa.
This Forum is being founded on the common understanding that education is critical in the development of any society, Africans included. The deans hope to use PADEF to transform teacher education in their respective countries, by, among other activities, sharing best practices and case studies in education leadership, management, pedagogy and research. Through PADEF, education deans also hope to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 objective of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
To those ends, PADEF, will be launched on 24 July 2023 at Makerere University in Uganda.
The launch has been planned to coincide with Day One of the 2023 Distance Education and Teachers’ Training in Africa (DETA) Conference, scheduled to take place from 24 to27 July. An initiative of the University of Pretoria, this conference is aimed, among numerous objectives, at building the capacity of teacher training programmes in Africa. Professor Sehoole, who was central to the DETA conference planning, says aligning the PADEF launch to the event was a deliberate and strategic move optimising the gathering in one place, of all the critical stakeholders.
At the recent EDF meeting on 26 May, the terms of reference of PADEF were endorsed and agreed on for adoption at the launch event, where the collective of African deans will elect a steering committee. Professor Sehoole explained that although it is their wish to attract all the education deans in the sub-Saharan Africa region, membership in PADEF will remain voluntary.
Ultimately, through PADEF, the deans hope to not limit their participation in education advancement to the continent. They wish to play a role in shaping education across the globe.
Nqobile Tembe is USAf’s Communication Consultant.