Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 21, December 1997 


ADEA Biennial Meeting in Dakar, October 1997

Richard Crabbe

Richard Crabbe is chairperson of APNET and Managing Director of Africa Christian Press, PO Box 30, Achimota, Ghana. Fax +233 21 200271/668115; e-mail:

Dakar, Senegal provided the setting for the Association for the Development of Education in Africa's (ADEA) fourth biennial meeting. This was the first time the Association had met in Africa and the Senegalese hosts did everything to leave a positive impression in the minds of participants. From the airport to the venue overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and back to the airport, one was made to feel part of a special meeting.

ADEA aimed at redefining how its two major constituents - African ministers of education and training, and funding agencies - relate to one another. The meeting brought together over 300 participants including ministers and senior officers from the funding agency community.

The opening ceremony included addresses by the World Bank's vice-president for Africa, Sweden's state secretary for international development co-operation and the secretary of state of the French ministry of co-operation. In contrasting styles, presidents Museveni of Uganda and Abdou Diouf of Senegal gave keynote speeches. The younger Museveni spoke in a humorous and often informal manner, while Diouf used a more formal style. The Ugandan president challenged African ministers and education professionals to do more with existing funds. President Diouf appealed for more funds for educational programmes.

Mr Ingamar Gustafsson, Chair of ADEA, welcomed participants. Mr Amanya Mushaga, interim chairperson and Ugandan minister of education urged fellow education ministers to use their influence to convene a special Organisation of African Unity (OAU) heads of state meeting on education. This would highlight the importance the OAU attaches to its declaration of the years 1997 to 2006 as the Decade of Education in Africa.

Under the theme `Partnerships for capacity building and quality improvements in education' the plenary sessions focused on ways to develop national capacity, ownership of programmes, improving quality, and partnerships. These sessions featured reports from ADEA's Working Groups.

Almost all papers presented had been circulated earlier, or a synopsis was available in the conference programme booklet. This facilitated understanding and enabled participants to come prepared with questions for clarification.

Early afternoons on the second and third days were devoted to full discussion sessions on selected topics arising out of the plenaries. The Working Groups met during late afternoon. Although the overall atmosphere was informal, it was quite obvious that brisk business took place.

APNET's delegation comprised executive secretary Gillian Nyambura, Senegalese representative Djibril Faye, and chairperson Richard Crabbe.

In practical demonstration of the increasing partnership between ADEA's Working Group on Books and Learning Materials (WGBLM) and APNET, the former secured APNET's invitation to the meeting. This is remarkable, because several other NGOs could not receive invitations as space was oversubscribed. Further, during the first plenary session WGBLM convenor Carew Treffgarne teamed up with Richard Crabbe, offering APNET six minutes of the 20-minute schedule. Six other minutes went for a presentation on the importance of literacy development. APNET also showcased its promotional materials at the WGBLM display stand. All items were gone by the third day.

The relaxed atmosphere and mealtimes at the conference centre allowed participants to meet for informal discussions. APNET's new contacts included the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, World Space Foundation and ministers of education.

My impressions as a first-timer were that much of ADEA's real work is done through the Working Groups, several of which met before and during the Biennale. Judging from comments received and follow-up meetings and correspondence since the meeting, APNET received positive exposure and is being regarded more and more as a partner with governments, especially in the education sector. The challenge for APNET now is to follow up and develop better relationships at national level between ministries of education and publishers' associations. [end] [BPN, no 21, 1997, p 4.]

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