As the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) eyes to hold its Board of Directors meeting early December 2023 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, it has been learnt that the Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam and former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete is the first African Board Chair since its establishment.
Speaking at one education function in Dar es Salaam on 31 August, 2023, Dr. Kikwete said that he was proudly the first African to chair the Board of GPE – the organization which was established 20 years ago, and, for that case, it is for the first time the Board would be holding its meeting in East Africa, particularly in Tanzania from 4th to 6th, December, this year.
“This organization began 20 years ago, and it never had a Chair of African origin; thus I am the first Chair who comes from Africa; and I do not know the criteria that were critically considered for my appointment”, said Dr. Kikwete, who is also a distinguished UDSM alumnus.
He further said that the Board meetings have also never been held in Africa; rather were conducted in Paris (France), Germany, UK and USA. “I requested them that we hold our meeting in Zanzibar, Tanzania; and my request was accepted”.
GPE is a shared commitment to ending the world's learning crisis. It is the only global partnership and fund dedicated entirely to helping children in lower-income countries get a quality education, so they can unlock their potential and contribute to building a better world.
Since 2014, 17 developing country partners have joined GPE. GPE has also expanded substantially as a fund. With $1.5 billion in total approved funding and $1 billion in disbursements, 2020 was a record year for GPE's support to education in lower-income countries.
Distinguished public service career
Dr. Kikwete, former president of the United Republic of Tanzania and Dr. Susan Liautaud, Chair of Council of the London School of Economics and Political Science, were elected and announced as GPE Chair and Vice Chair respectively in May, 2021 and officially began their terms on September 15, 2021.
According to GPE, the election and confirmation of Dr. Kikwete to the Board’s chair position “demonstrated the importance that GPE places on partner country leadership and engagement. Throughout his distinguished public service career, both in the Tanzanian government and in international and regional organizations, Dr. Kikwete has dedicated himself to advancing progressive policies for education and women and children's health”.
On his appointment as GPE Board Chair, President Kikwete said: "I have long championed the importance of quality education. I believe there is no greater change a leader can make to serve the most vulnerable and marginalized children than education. I am honored to lead the Board of the Global Partnership for Education, an organization that is engaged in addressing the global learning crisis that has been exacerbated by COVID-19”.
Meanwhile, UDSM Vice Chancellor, Prof. William A. L. Anangisye, commended Dr. Kikwete's accomplishments and said that they were not only celebrated within UDSM community but also hailed as a source of pride for Tanzania and Africa at large. "He is not just a UDSM alumnus but also an ambassador who is flying the UDSM flag outstandingly”.
GPE commitment and service
The GPE Board of Directors has 20 constituencies representing the different GPE partners. A Board member and an alternate member represent each constituency for a total of 40 members. They serve for 3 years. Since 2010s, GPE's Board has expanded and diversified, bringing together all relevant partners around our shared mission of delivering quality education to the world's most vulnerable children.
In October 2020, GPE launched its 'Raise Your Hand' financing campaign, which calls on global leaders to pledge at least US$5 billion over five years towards education in 90 lower-income countries and territories. The campaign comes at a critical time for education. COVID-19 has hit vulnerable children in lower-income countries especially hard, creating the biggest education emergency in recent history.
Local and global recognition for notable service
As a distinguished UDSM alumnus, Dr. Kikwete’s recent appointments and leadership roles in various international organizations have garnered praise and recognition both locally and on the global stage.
The notable service of Dr. Kikwete's leadership extends beyond education. After retiring from government, he assumed the role of special envoy for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity. This position led him to spearhead high-level delegations to 14 African countries, further solidifying his commitment to improving educational access and quality across the continent.
In addition to his educational endeavours, Dr. Kikwete is involved in various international roles including, Co-Chair of the UNFPA High Level Commission on the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25; Co-Chair of the Refugee Council; Member of the High-Level Panel on Every Woman, Every Child and Every Adolescent; Member of the High-Level Panel on Scaling Up Nutrition; Member of the End Malaria Council; and Board Member of Nutrition International.
His influence extends into agricultural and water resource sectors as well, with roles such as Member of the Board of the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa and Chair of the Board of the Global Water Partnership for Africa and Southern Africa.
Kikwete appointed Chair of Africa Food Prize (AFP)
In March this year, 2023, Dr. Kikwete was announced as the new Chair of the Africa Food Prize (AFP) whose role would include to oversee the US$100,000 Africa Food Prize, which began as the Yara Prize. The Yara Prize was established by Yara in 2005 and moved to Africa and rechristened the Africa Food Prize in 2016. It celebrates Africans who are taking control of Africa’s agricultural agenda.
In this position, Dr. Kikwete succeeded the former Nigerian President, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, who has served as the AFP Chair since 2016. H.E. Obasanjo welcomed the appointee and expressed enthusiasm that, through his work, H.E. Kikwete had shown a genuine passion and dedication towards transforming Africa’s agriculture.