The African Union (AU) has called for development of digital skills in teachers across Africa, especially in post COVID-19 period to ensure dynamism in learning at all levels.
Prof. Sarah Agbor, Commissioner, AU Human Resources, Science and Technology, made the call at the first phase of webinar to celebrate the International Literacy Day of the Year in Sub-Saharan Africa on Wednesday.
The celebration was organised by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) offices in Abuja, Dakar, Harare, Nairobi and Yaoundé in collaboration with the International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA).
The meeting focused on policy dialogue on innovative methodologies for youth, adult literacy programmes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, as well as the role of educators.
The 2020 theme is: “Literacy, Teaching and Learning: The Role of Educators and Pedagogical Changes’’.
Agbor explained that with the increase in remote learning, the role of educators needed to be examined now and during post COVID-19 era, to ensure that quality education was delivered.
She said that technology was driving the means of education and learning in the pandemic era, hence the need for teachers to get skilled digitally.
“The roles of educators are influenced in the way of remuneration because job motivation should also ensure satisfaction.
“Teachers need to be skilled digitally and their capacity developed to teach with the right infrastructure post COVID-19 era.
“Teachers also need to get acquainted with the cognitive socialisation of school children because they play a major role in their early lives,’’ she said.
The commissioner also said that AU was focusing on developing strategic policies, frameworks to foster education, encourage youth engagement.
She mentioned that the policies included Agenda 2063, 50 years set of initiatives proposed and being implemented by AU, the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 and continental strategy on youth entrepreneurship, innovation and employment.
Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO, regretted that about 235 million children from primary to tertiary level had been denied access to learning due to COVID-19.
Giannini stated that some children on the continent could not access education prior to COVID-19 due to conflicts and human engineered problems but the pandemic had provided opportunity for a change.
She said that some African countries were taking steps to modify means of learning through online platforms.
The assistant director general said that literacy educators were not frequently on the spotlight, adding that there would be no progress in education without adequate attention to teachers.
“Teachers need to be projected to ensure achieving Sustainable Development Goal four.
“UNESCO will ensure continued collaboration with AU to promote continental education platforms in Africa.
“We are focusing on 29 countries facing literacy challenges and we will continue to proffer solutions, policies to support educators,” she said.
According to her, let’s make literacy first important step to create acceptance, resilience and ensure development especially in the COVID-19 period.
Mr Mamadou Sow, Officer In Charge, UNESCO Regional Office, Abuja, hoped that African countries would adopt the Literacy Strategy of November 2019 to promote education on the continent.
Mrs Awut Acuil, Minister of General Education, South Sudan, said there was need for increased investment in education by government and development partners for inclusive literacy.
Some Non-Governmental Organisations like Just Commit Foundation, Ghana, Tabitha Kumi Foundation, Nigeria who were being supported by UNESCO gave testimonies of their interventions toward delivering literacy in their localities.