In 1990, the international community met during a World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien (Thailand) and adopted a declaration and a plan of action through which it committed itself to meet all citizens’ fundamental educational needs. It pointed out the priority to ensure girls access to education and improve the quality of their training.
Ever since, several other meetings followed, among which the pan African conference on girls’ education held in Ouagadougou in 1993. Its goal was to reach consensus from African decision makers on girls’ education policies.
The following proposals resulted from that conference:
address policies pertaining to girls education in a multisectorIal perspective;
finance in- depth research work on the socio-cultural context of girls’ education ;
strengthen girls learning environment, and focus educational planning, administration and management on girls in order to meet their educational needs ;
institutionalise research at national and regional level.
In the framework of the follow up of that conference and considering the challenges to meet, Burkina Faso has proposed the creation of a West African Centre which will serve as a reference centre “to channel energies and guide actions on girls’ and women’s education, a resource, training and information centre” .
In 1995, 1997 and 1999, the Government of Burkina Faso made the proposal to UNESCO at the 28th, 29 and 30th sessions of the General conference. It was in 1999 that the 30th session of the General conference took note of the project and registered it in the 30/C5 as part of the Major Programme I, Action line 2.
But instead of a West African centre, the Director General of UNESCO advised the creation of an International Centre for Girls’ and Women’s Education.
From 12 to 14 July, 2000, an international meeting held under the aegis of the UNESCO office in Ouagadougou brought together 46 experts in education and gender issues fro, 16 African countries, institutions and non governmental organisations. They reflected upon the fundamental texts and the initial action programme of CIEFFA and made proposals to Burkina Faso, the host country.
The following countries and institutions attended the conference: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, the Gambia, Senegal, Congo Democratic Republic, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, Ethiopia, Guinea Conakry, Ghana and Malawi.
As Institutions and Non Governmental Organizations, the following were present: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation), the World Bank, ECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), Cathwel, WEAMU (West African Economic and Monetary Union), OPF (Pan African Organisation of Women), FAWE (Forum of African Women Educationalists) and the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg (Germany).
In January 2001, Burkina Faso set up a light co-ordinating team in application of the recommendations made by the experts’ meeting;
In June 2001, Burkina Faso, the host country, put a temporary head office at the disposal of the centre. Later following that, the Centre was allocated two plots of land, one for the permanent Headquarters and the other for the training premises;
In July 2004, the 3rd ordinary Conference of Heads of States and Governments of the African Union took the decision (« Decision Assembly /AU/DEC. 44 (III) ») approving the principle of making of CIEFFA a specialised institution of the African Union;
In September 2004, a Meeting of African Ministers of Education was held in Ouagadougou on CIEFFA. During that meeting, the draft statutes were amended and transferred to the African Union Commission;
In October 2005, the 33rd General conference of UNESCO accepted CIEFFA’s request to be admitted as a UNESCO category II centre.
The Agreement granting CIEFFA that status was signed in Paris on 19 April, 2006.