Development on the continent: African voices unite

African Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs), which work in pursuit of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), met face-to-face for the first time last week, and their initial reunion took place at Rhodes University’s Environmental Learning Research Centre.

Hailing from Nigeria and Mozambique, and eight other countries in between, representatives from the RCEs gathered to discuss the tricky work of development on the continent.

This network of formal and informal educational organisations mobilise to deliver education for sustainable development (ESD) to local and regional communities. Through providing knowledge and experience for community projects, NGOs and municipalities, they support a range of projects in the environmental sector. Expanding and refining their ability to do this to sufficiently meet the MDG target, underlined the motivation for this recent meeting.

This particular meeting highlights a significant point in the life of African RCEs. “This is the first time we’ve had a formal continental meeting. Often African RCEs cannot attend the global meetings,” said coordinator, Abel Atiti, who cited funding and other more pressing priorities as hindrances to their attendance.

“Everybody’s input is important,” emphasised Atiti, who received his Masters in Environmental Education from Rhodes University.

The aim of the conference was to share challenges and opportunities and to find new strategies of how to collaborate, said Atiti. Over three days, participants discussed the spectrum of RCE principles and values, including: transformative learning, governance and management, collaboration and partnership and research and development.

In addition to valuable conversations, a series of resource materials will emerge from the conference. The idea is that these materials will have a uniquely African perspective, serving RCEs on this continent in relevant ways.

A further meeting objective was to create a cohesive African voice before the global RCE meeting in Oslo this November.

“We’re trying to create a vision and asking, ‘where are we going?’ It’s nice for Africans to have a position,” said Atiti.

By Hailey Gaunt



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