Interview with Jacques Boureima Ki
Secretary-General of CONFEMEN and former IIEP trainee
The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) and CONFEMEN's Programme on the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC) came together in Paris on 24 and 25 January 2011 for their second international meeting on The Quality of Basic Education in Africa: The State of Research in 2011. IIEP took the opportunity to interview Jacques Ki, Secretary-General of CONFEMEN and former IIEP trainee.
1. You recently took office as Secretary-General of CONFEMEN. What are your main objectives for 2011?
I would like to say, first of all, that it is a great honour to come back to IIEP as Secretary-General of the Conference of Ministers of Education of French-speaking Countries (CONFEMEN). SACMEQ cordially invited us to engage in discussions with PASEC, which seeks to generate ideas on how to improve access to quality education for all in the member countries.
To answer your question, CONFEMEN has adopted five objectives for the next two years. They relate to (1) communication, in order to give CONFEMEN's activities greater exposure in the press, on the Internet and through publications; (2) monitoring and management of educational quality in support of member states; (3) governance of education systems in the context of decentralization processes; (4) enhancing the relevance of vocational training in developing countries and (5) strengthening partnerships with CONFEMEN institutions and partners.
2. PASEC is CONFEMEN's analytical programme. It is 20 years old this year. In what way does such a programme help to improve the quality of basic education in Africa?
PASEC was established at the request of the ministers of education in 1991 at the 43rd ministerial session of CONFEMEN. The aim was to give more emphasis to improving the quality of education systems, after a period of focusing on access to education. PASEC takes the form of an observatory and conducts studies of scholastic achievement and learning outcomes in relation to the school programmes of each country, particularly in reading and mathematics. A number of studies have been conducted on these subjects in the member states. Once the reports have been prepared, PASEC makes recommendations to influence the formulation and implementation of education policies. These recommendations often have a very strong impact, and the member states are glad to have them. Every two years, we do a series of evaluations on four to seven countries. The aim, as in the SACMEQ framework, is to develop evaluation instruments, evaluate a group of countries, and compare the results at international level so that education ministers can derive policy lessons from them.
3. You are participating in the second international meeting of PASEC and SACMEQ. What do you expect from this meeting?
It is a very important meeting focused on sharing of experience. The two systems do not use the same methods: SACMEQ has considerable expertise in instruments and methods, and its experience is different, as the region it covers differs in scope from that of PASEC. SACMEQ has developed very effective tools that were presented to us at this meeting and that may be a source of inspiration for PASEC – for example, software that corrects data entry errors and thus helps to minimize analytical bias.
SACMEQ also presented instruments for measuring knowledge concerning HIV/AIDS in our countries. PASEC will take the initiative of proposing to the CONFEMEN countries to include this aspect in its studies in order to provide more information on HIV/AIDS, which has a strong impact and undermines progress in education systems.
There is a degree of complementarity between SACMEQ and PASEC studies. The two systems have similar objectives, particularly as regards their determination to provide means of evaluating quality.
4. How are the results received at country level?
Our studies meet with a very good reception. Indeed, the analyses are carried out by a national team: they use their own tools, and the teams are trained in the use of data collection and analysis tools. PASEC provides technical support for analysis of the data. The countries clearly understand which factors explain the performance (good or bad) of such and such an aspect of the evaluations.
5. You are a former IIEP trainee (ATP 2001). Can you tell us what you've been doing since your time at IIEP? How did the training course help your career?
I am very proud of the training I received at IIEP, a centre of cultural diversity that makes it possible to create an international network of planners. Today, I have many contacts with my colleagues, both professional and social. I also have many contacts with IIEP alumni, who come to us to ask that we work with countries on interesting, relevant topics.
As for what I've been doing, a month after returning to Burkina Faso in 2001 I was promoted to a senior position: I headed the team responsible for establishing a ten-year plan. It was the first time that the country had produced such a plan, so there was a great deal at stake.
IIEP's training was applicable at all levels of this exercise: formulation of the plan, selection of indicators, development of an indicator set, discussions with partners, analysis of the situation, etc. I also used what I learned at IIEP to enhance the capacity of my staff, by training them in the techniques I had learned.
To come back to my career path, I was next a technical advisor to the minister, and for four years I was in charge of the Fund for Literacy and Non-formal Education, which finances civil society. In 2007, I was appointed director of planning studies for Burkina Faso's secondary and higher education systems. In 2011, I took my current post as secretary-general of CONFEMEN.
IIEP has helped me very much over these last ten years.
6. You started the association of IIEP alumni in Burkina Faso. What can you tell us about it?
It is an official association, called "Association of Educational Planners of Burkina Faso". We organize regular meetings. I encourage other countries to do the same, because the association is very promising in terms of professional dialogue. We have drawn up a programme of activities to assist countries' planners in terms of resources, and we have regular and rewarding contacts with IIEP experts.
Mr Ki, thank you for granting this interview.