On 11 and 12 May 2023, Commonwealth Scholar Olamide Eso attended the Commonwealth Education Ministers Action Group (CEMAG) and Commonwealth Accelerated Development Mechanism for Education (CADME) meetings hosted at the Commonwealth Secretariat headquarters in London as an observer and youth representative.

“I was so excited about the opportunity because it would be my first time to visit Marlborough House and to participate in such a high-level Commonwealth policy meeting.”

During the meetings, Olamide delivered a presentation on her doctoral research and the impact of her Commonwealth Scholarship on her experience as a PhD student in the UK.

About the events

The Commonwealth Education Ministers Action Group (CEMAG) and Commonwealth Accelerated Development Mechanism for Education (CADME) were set up to advance action on policy development and implementation initiated at each triennial Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) meeting.

While the CEMAG meeting provides strategic guidance for educational policies and framework development for the implementation of SDG4, the CADME meeting offers a platform to exchange ideas and reflect on lessons learnt.

“I arrived in London full of enthusiasm and a deep sense of responsibility, knowing that I would be speaking on behalf of more than 30,000 Commonwealth Scholars, Fellows, and Alumni as well as representing the 1.5 billion youths in the Commonwealth.”

Day 1: The Commonwealth Education Ministers Action Group (CEMAG) meeting

The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland KC, delivered the opening address on overcoming the digital learning gap and highlighted the success of a recent collaboration between the Commonwealth and Simplilearn which provided young learners with free, internationally recognised digital skills certification.

There followed presentations by education ministers from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Americas about the progress being made towards the CCEM 2021 goals on equitable access to learning, education and the future of work, and financing education. There were also contributions from UNESCO representatives about the global advances in basic education.

Dr Joanna Newman, Chief Executive and Secretary-General of the ACU, spoke about the ACU’s role as the only accredited body for higher education in the Commonwealth, with more than 500 university members in over 50 countries. Dr Newman emphasised Commonwealth universities’ role in driving sustainable development and called for greater collaboration between governments, universities, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and other Commonwealth organisations.

In her presentation, Olamide talked about her research into green, passive ventilation cooling systems which are capable of reducing indoor temperatures by 15% while achieving significant energy savings. With development impact potential across several SDGs, Olamide discussed how her research would support ongoing efforts in her home country of Nigeria to tackle issues related to climate change.

Olamide also spoke about how her Commonwealth Scholarship with its networks of support, opportunities to learn new skills, and mentoring programme had been fundamental to her development as a researcher and change-maker.

Day 2: The Commonwealth Accelerated Development Mechanism for Education (CADME) meeting

The morning session of the CADME meeting involved a review of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s education programmes and initiatives undertaken to support member states, including the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Toolkit and the Commonwealth Educational Leadership Handbook.

In the afternoon, participants formed thematic working groups to support ministers and officials in the CEMAG and CADME process and enable civil society organisations to contribute to policy development decisions. During this session, Olamide joined the Higher Education Working Group, chaired by the ACU, which discussed ideas related to the ACU’s recommendations to ministers at CCEM 2021, including a focus on digital technology initiatives and reimagining education delivery.

“This was the most rewarding experience overall. I was able to witness first-hand the complexities that occur behind the scenes in the international development sector for policy implementation. I can now appreciate the enormous amount of work done by organisations such as the ACU, UNESCO, the Commonwealth Secretariat and other Commonwealth education organisations.”