Globally, the worth of values and life skills/social-emotional learning has gained prominence over the COVID-19 period. These competences have been recognized for their contribution to the building of resilience in children and youth . Still, there is rising argument that the division between cognitive and non-cognitive competences is rather imaginary, and that these develop together in inseparable ways, and that the dichotomy is one intellectual illusion.

The Values and Life Skills – Africa (VALI-A) Conference is conceptualized as a biennial platform for intellectual, policy- and practice-focused conversations to accelerate the understanding and integration of values and life skills in education across Sub-Sahara Africa. Valia is a rather universal word, meaning similar things across different contexts. In Kiswahili, valia means ‘dress oneself up’, and in context, adding on a missing critical aspect of oneself. In Spanish, valía means ‘worth’ or ‘value’.

The theme of the VALI-A inaugural conference 2023, Beyond Written Intentions, purposes to open up a continental conversation to first review the status of various countries in the integration of values and life skills, and second, explore options for leveraging on global experiences to leapfrog to effective production of these outcomes through Africa’s education systems.

This inaugural conference targets a limited participation of around 300 participants drawn from at least 30 countries (mostly from Africa), among them education policy makers, curriculum developers, teacher and parents’ associations, as well as civil society and development partners working on these competences on the continent and globally.
The conference will be hosted by the Assessment of Life Skills and Values in East Africa (ALiVE), a project of the Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI), in partnership with the national assessment councils in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and co-hosted with the Karanga Network and the East Africa Community.

The key question to be explored by this inaugural conference is, ‘where are we’ and ‘what remains to be addressed’? How do we understand these competences in the context of Africa, and which ones do we prioritize? From global experience, what works (and what doesn’t) in nurturing these competences at scale? What works (and what doesn’t) in the assessment of these competences in context?

These questions will be explored through three conference sub-themes on understanding, nurturing and assessing competencies and a variety of learning sessions.