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High-Level Conference on Accelerating Learning in the Middle East and Africa: A Call to Action and Opportunities for Collaboration

February 13-14, 2020

Cairo, Egypt

  • Despite improved access at all levels of education and impressive investments in education and training, a major challenge in the Middle East and African countries is poor learning. The ability to read with comprehension for all children in late primary school—generally by age 10—is a goal of every education system around the world.The ability to read is a gateway to further learning and skills development, enabling young people to participate effectively in society.

    But children are not learning. To galvanize action towards tackling the global learning crisis, the World Bank announced a new “Learning Poverty” indicator, defined as the share of children who cannot read and understand a simple story by age 10.  A new global target was announced as well, to reduce that number by at least half before 2030. The Bank estimates that 53% of all children in low- and middle-income countries are “learning poor”.  

    Under the auspices of the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and to underscore the urgency of improving learning outcomes, the World Bank and Egypt’s Minister of Education and Technical Education (MOETE) are organizing the “High-Level Conference on Accelerating Learning in the Middle East and Africa” on February 13-14, 2020 in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).  

    The conference will bring together Ministers of Education, policymakers, sector experts, civil society, and development partners from across MENA and Africa.

    The conference aims at sharing regional and international experiences of education reform and transformative strategies for making faster progress towards improving learning for all, while promoting collaboration among the countries of Africa and the Middle East to work towards making faster progress in improving learning outcomes.

  • 09:00–10:00

    Breakfast and Registration


    Session 1. Presidential Opening and Welcome Remarks

    Room: Emerald Ballroom

    Moderator: Doha ElHusseiny

    Journey of Education Reform in Egypt

    ·         H.E. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt (invited)

    ·         H.E. Dr. Tarek Shawki, Minister of Education and Technical Education, Egypt – bringing back learning to the classroom and use of technology

    A Call to Action from Students, Teachers, school leaders and Parents


    ·         Lawrence Anderson, Vice President, Pearson Assessment Services

    ·         Mike Thompson, Senior Vice President, National Geographic

    ·         Marty Creel, Chief Academic Officer/Vice President, Curriculum&Instruction, Discovery Education

    ·         Simon Leung, Chairman of the Board, Promethean

    Why is Accelerating Learning So Important?

    ·         H.E. Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt (5 minutes)

    ·         Dr. Marina Wes, Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti (5 minutes)

    ·         Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO Pratham Education Foundation (10 minutes) (by video)

    ·         Dr. Jaime Saavedra, Global Director for Education, World Bank - 15 minutes “Ted Talk” style to Launch Learning Poverty Initiative

    12:45 –14:00



    Session 2. Strategies to Accelerate Learning

    Room: Zomoroda Ballroom

    Moderator: Keiko Miwa, Regional Director, World Bank


    ·         H.E. Sir Geoffrey Adams: UK Ambassador: Opening of the High-Level Panel (5 minutes)

    ·         Prof. Dr. Le Anh Vinh, Vice Director General, Ministry of Education and Training - How Vietnam significantly improved and sustained overall performance on international assessment (by VC)

    ·         Dr. Belio Kipsang, Principal Secretary, Early Years and Basic Education, Kenya—taking a successful early reading program to scale

    ·         Dr. Mubarak Khamis Al-Salami, Education Expert, Oman - How Oman improved learning

    Panel Discussion on What Countries are Doing to Improve Learning



    Session 3. How to accelerate learning: Effective teachers and school leaders at primary level

    Moderator:  Amina Khairy


    ·         H. E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, United Arab Emirates

    ·         Mr. Gabriel Mathenge, Deputy Director, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Kenya

    ·         Madame Nene Fatou Diallo, Secretary General, Ministry of National Education and Literacy, Guinea

    ·         H.E. Dr. Husam Zaman, President, Education and Training Evaluation Commission (ETEC), KSA

    ·         Dr. Agustin Porres, Regional Director, Varkey Foundation

    ·         Teachers / school leaders

    Celebrating Outstanding Teachers and School Leaders


    Coffee Break


    Session 4: How to accelerate learning – focusing on the early years and classrooms  

    Moderator: Amina Khairy


    ·         H.E. Dr. Tayseer Al-Nueimi, Minister of Education and Higher Education, Jordan

    ·         Jeanette (Adriana) Vogelaar, Regional Advisor on Education, UNICEF

    ·         Mr. Godwin Obaseki, Governor, Edo State, Nigeria

    ·         Dr. Gossam Mafuta, Director Basic Education for Education, Malawi

    ·         Dr. Mahmood Mohamed Al-abri, Education Expert, Oman


    Session 5. Closing Session - Accelerating Learning through Collaboration

    Moderator: Dr. Linda Herrera


    ·         H.E. Dr. Tarek Shawki, Minister of Education and Technical Education, Egypt

    ·         Dr. Jaime Saavedra, Global Director for Education, World Bank


    Cocktail and Networking