January 31, 2017. During the roundtable debates on January 19, 2017, Dr. Akiiki Babyesiza and Dr. Sarah Fichtner, Research Fellows at the Robert Bosch Academy, presented their research projects on “Education in Sub-Saharan Africa.” About 50 participants from academia, development, civil society organisations, consultancies, political foundations, ministries and embassies joined a lively discussion.

The first roundtable organised by Sarah Fichtner and moderated by Dr. Michel Carton (from NORRAG) focused on the role of learner-centered pedagogy in curricular reforms, classroom practices and in-service teacher training in primary and secondary education in West and Central Africa.

The second roundtable organised and moderated by Akiiki Babyesiza discussed how research and knowledge transfer translate policy into practice at public universities in Eastern and Southern Africa; the role of international actors like the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Society for International Coooperation (GIZ); and the importance of higher education research on Africa to ensure evidence-based policymaking.

The idea of bringing together basic and higher education specialists focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa proved to be fruitful, as schools and universities are often looked at as separate boxes disconnected from their systemic, social, political and economic contexts. During the debates, it soon became obvious that the two roundtable topics are in fact linked to more global questions about the role and purpose of schools and universities in African societies.

Is the role of a school to prepare for an exam that serves as the entry ticket to a knowledge-based society? Or is it instead an institution that teaches young people how to learn and make sense of what they have learned?

Is the role of the university in a low-income country to “produce” employable graduates and commercializable knowledge? Or is there also space to generate knowledge for the sake of knowledge and to train students to become critical thinkers?

Panel 1:
Sarah Fichtner (Robert Bosch Academy)
Jean Kasereka Lutswamba (Coordinator of the CBCA schools in DRC)
Frederick Fondzenyuy Njobati (Pedagogic In-Service Training Program Cameroon)
Alexia Peyser (BIEF, Louvain-la-Neuve)
Dominique Lahanier-Reuter (Equipe Théodile-CIREL, Université Lille)
Julia Seibert (Brot für die Welt – Protestant Development Service)
Michel Carton (NORRAG/Graduate Institute Geneva)

Panel 2:
Akiiki Babyesiza (Robert Bosch Academy)
Cay Etzold (German Academic Exchange Service)
Karen Hauff (GIZ African Union Office, Support to the Pan-African University)
Patrício Langa (Institute of Post-School Studies, University of the Western Cape)
Mulu Nega (Institute of Educational Research, Addis Ababa University)

Wrap up and outlook:
Sarah Fichtner (Robert Bosch Academy)
Akiiki Babyesiza (Robert Bosch Academy)
Olaf Hahn (Robert Bosch Stiftung)

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