Rethinking Education for Innovation, Growth and Sustainability post-Covid-19 | Report from the first day of 21CCEM

Published on 27 April 2022

Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, is attending the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers Meeting (21CCEM) in Narobi, Kenya alongside an ACU delegation of university leaders.

This year’s theme is ‘rethinking education for innovation, growth and sustainability post-Covid-19’ and 21CCEM will be used to shape the priorities for education in the Commonwealth. The ACU delegation are on the ground to give a voice to universities and represent the interests of the wider membership to Commonwealth governments. 

Following consultation with our 500+ members across the Commonwealth, the ACU have been invited to contribute a series of policy briefings to support the ministerial workshops being discussed at 21CCEM:

  • Lessons learned from Covid-19 mitigation and recovery strategies.
  • Rethinking education for decent work and employability.
  • Redefining learning spaces: multiple pathways and flexible approaches.
  • Financing of education including innovative financing.
  • Education for sustainability and a peaceful, cohesive Commonwealth.

We have also made a series of policy recommendations which if implemented will strengthen the contribution universities can make to sustainable development and the recovery. In particular, the ACU are asking Education Ministers to:

  • Underline the contribution higher education makes to tackling entrenched global challenges and realising all of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Ensure access to quality higher education is available to all those who would benefit and all students, regardless of gender, are supported with the means and mechanisms to participate, complete their education, and succeed. Special attention should be given to enabling internet connectivity, hardware, and infrastructure including electricity access.

The final communique will be discussed and agreed by Ministers on Thursday.

You can read full policy briefs here.

Conference agenda – key sessions
After the welcome address by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC Commonwealth Secretariat on Wednesday, members of the ACU delegation will attend three of the ministerial roundtables on COVID-19 lessons learned, education and employability and how to redefine learning spaces.

On Thursday, the ACU will present on and seek support for the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP). Administered by the ACU, it has enabled more than 38’000 students from across the Commonwealth to access international study since it began in 1959. 

Professor Francis Adoul, Vice Chancellor, Technical University of Kenya, and member of ACU Council will also give an address on priorities for higher education in the commonwealth highlighting HE’s critical contribution to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the importance of access and inclusion including gender equity and addressing the digital divide. 

Role of the ACU
As the only representative body for higher education in the Commonwealth, the ACU will represent not only the Commonwealth but also global higher education stakeholders in Nairobi during the hybrid event, speaking also on behalf of The International Association of Universities (IAU) and The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). The trio collectively represent more than 2,000 higher education institutions from across all continents and have agreed a formal partnership to strengthen the representation of universities on the global stage.