We, Heads of State and Government of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, met in Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania, on December 5, 2021.
We thank His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, for the initiative of this important meeting and for welcoming us in the tradition of Sahelian hospitality. We have discussed the common development challenges of our countries, agreed on common objectives and goals to improve our children’s and young people’s learning, and highlighted the critical importance of education sector funding, in a context marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the security crisis in the G5 Sahel region.
We express our sincere thanks to all our development partners for the actions already implemented and their commitment in favor of education for our youth.
We welcome the World Bank Group’s engagement model of promoting a collaborative spirit shown by listening, understanding, and sharing challenges to better support our countries in the implementation of their national strategies, as shown by the launch today of its Sahel Education White Paper.
This document, the “Nouakchott Declaration”, represents the outcome of our discussions. It constitutes a framework for prioritizing and coordinating our policies, practices and actions in education in the coming years.
Strategic Approach to Education in the Sahel:
We affirm that a quality education for all constitutes for our region the foundation for a future where prosperity is both sustainable and shared. Sustainable and equitable development requires citizens to receive an education that reflects our needs and realities, in a world where change is constant. A well-performing education system increases productivity and employment, and leads to better outcomes in public health, public institutions and peace. Over the last fifteen years, our countries have seen major improvement in this sector, with a doubling of enrollments in primary education and a tripling in secondary education.
In order to expand on these achievements, our countries must continue to develop an education system where children arrive ready to learn in their early years of schooling and where children and youth learn efficiently and sustainably the basic skills they will need throughout their lives. This goal requires us to develop innovative policies to improve education quality. Even amongst children who have been schooled, many are unable to read and understand a short text by the time they finish their primary education. This problem is particularly acute amongst those who most need a quality education: girls, children in rural areas, children whose parents have not been to school or dropped out early, and children in families affected by the security crisis. Our societies suffer the consequences of this learning poverty in the basics of literacy and numeracy: heavy school drop-out, limited social advancement, and a low-qualified workforce. An environment where our young people, especially girls and young women, cannot all feel safe negatively impacts not only their education but also their subsequent adult lives and our societies more broadly.
With an eye to this better future that a quality education promises, we are of the view that the following the core goals must be given priority: (i) consolidating our achievements in education access through infrastructure investment that offers an adequate environment for learning and thereby reduces learning poverty; (ii) increasing girls’ participation in secondary education; and (iii) strengthening basic skills, including literacy skills, in young adults who have already left the school system. While recognizing that all parts of the education system are important, we have prioritized these three goals, which we consider critical in light of their potential for transforming our societies. Just as we acknowledge each country’s specificities, we also know we have challenges in common: professionalizing the teacher workforce, updating curricula, improving teaching practice and strengthening student assessment.
To support these efforts, we recognize the importance of the share of public spending that goes to education, which must be balanced between the expansion of basic services that benefit the majority of the population and targeted investments that stimulate growth and employment in ways that are structural and sustainable. We confirm our commitment to regional cooperation that provides for shared costs and benefits. By emphasizing results, we aim to improve the return on our public investment in education, especially since our limited resources face constantly increasing demand for education. We will enable our local communities to take part in putting in place innovations that benefit their schools and students, while also encouraging private sector participation through improved service quality.
As a result of these efforts, we shall continue together to create a future for our Sahel region. Education, it is clear, builds tomorrow’s wealth and offers a path to shared prosperity. We are well aware that these initiatives will not all bear fruit within the term of our political mandates, but we are acting now to better serve the youth of today and tomorrow and to guarantee their future. We invite our citizens, as well as our national and international partners and other stakeholders, to join with us in this noble and necessary endeavor. By beginning now to transform our education systems in an efficient manner, we will be turning our schools into places where our children and youth can bloom and grow – places they deserve. There is no time to lose!
To achieve this, We commit to:
a. Give priority, in our policies, actions and funding, to consolidating achievements in education access, reducing learning poverty, increasing girls’ participation in secondary education, and strengthening basic skills, including literacy skills, in young people who have left the school system;
b. Adopt, for each of these goals, a quantitative target for 2025 and 2030, with a view to making governments and populations accountable for these commitments, and thereby to overcome and simplify the administrative processes that have often held back the progress that our children and youth deserve;
c. Support early child development, to ensure all children begin school ready to learn throughout their lives;
d. Improve markedly teachers’ recruitment, training, motivation and deployment and ensure our education systems participate in regular international learning assessment programs;
e. Increase the share of public spending and gross domestic product allocated to education, to at least the Sub-Saharan African average by 2030, while working to improve the efficacy and efficiency of this spending;
f. Allocate a larger share of the budget to primary and lower secondary education, while giving priority, in upper secondary education (including technical and professional training) and higher education, to selected areas that are likely to add value to our economies and our populations.
On this fifth day of December 2021, at Nouakchott, Islamic Republic of Mauritania
List of meeting participants having adopted the Declaration:
Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, and Niger.
Excellency Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Excellency Mohamed Bazoum, President of the Republic of Niger
Excellency Shoguel Kokalla Maiga, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali
Excellency Ouaro Stanislas, Minister of Education,Head of Delegation of the Republic of Burkina Faso
Excellency Kosmadji Merci, Minister of Education, Head of Delegation of the Republic of Chad