PALFA Conference

The 13th biennial Pan-African Literacy for All (PALFA) Conference will be held for the second time in Nairobi, Kenya from 23rd to 25th August, 2023 under the auspices of the University of Nairobi, the Ministry of Education, Association of Reading of Kenya (ARK) and Rift Valley Reading Association (RVRA). PALFA (previously referred to as Pan-African Reading for All Conference), was first held in Kenya in August, 2013. To date, PALFA Conference remains one of the most popular, prestigious, interactive and enriching global literacy events that brings together scholars, literacy educators and professionals from across Africa and around the world. PALFA hosting rights are given to an eligible member country by the International Literacy Association–Africa Chapter. Previous PALFA conferences have been held in South Africa (1999), Nigeria (2001), Uganda (2003), Ghana (2005), Swaziland (2007), Tanzania (2009), Botswana (2011), Kenya (2013), South Africa (2015), Nigeria (2017), Uganda (2019) and Zambia (2021).


The UN Secretary General, in his vision statement during the Transforming Education Summit 2022, observed that:

    "Education is a fundamental human right. It has long held a special place in the hearts and minds of people across the world, and for good reasons".

Throughout history, it has been a source of personal dignity and empowerment and a driving force for the advancement of social, economic, political, and cultural development. Yet today, beset by inequalities and struggling to adjust to the needs of the 21st century, education is in crisis. With the foregoing statement in mind, foundational skills are essential to fulfilling children’s rights to quality education a articulated in Sustainable Development Goal 4 on: ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. This, in essence, means that every child should be able to complete primary school and achieve at least minimum proficiency in reading and numeracy, among other 21st Century skills. This will enable them to attain personal dignity and be empowered to contribute meaningfully to sustainable development.

The endeavor to ensure good progress on this literacy commitment has, however, continued to face significant hurdles; exacerbated by the March, 2021 abrupt closure of schools for long periods of time across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the learning poverty crisis had been estimated at 57 percent in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) and at 86% in sub-Saharan African countries. The proportion of children unable to read a simple text with comprehension by age 10 is now estimated to be at 70% in LMICs (Learning Poverty Report, 2022). The UN Transforming Education Summit, 2022 emphasized the need to re-think and re-imagine the purpose, content and delivery modes of education, in order to transform education towards peaceful, inclusive and sustainable futures of humanity and the planet. A sustainable future guarantees good life and thus quality education.


There is general consensus that literacy is a key stepping-stone to exposure to the world, Advancement in education produces better and more informed persons capable of running world affairs. The learning process heightens interactions and dialogue between different entities; which results not just in human socialization, but also in the formulation of complex problem solving strategies for a better world. Bojang (2021) notes that education is one of the fundamental pillars as far as a country’s development process is concerned and that without proper education, there cannot be any meaningful development and progress. Bojang makes reference to African countries and asserts that lack of access to quality early childhood education in many sub-Saharan African countries has adversely affected their development.

It is worrisome to think about the proportion of children in sub-Saharan Africa who are unable to read a simple text with comprehension in 2022 - post-COVID-19. Something needs to be done. And it needs to be done now. If not now, right now! In under a year, literacy scholars and enthusiasts from around the globe must converge at the 13th PALFA, 2023 conference in Nairobi, Kenya to showcase cutting-edge knowledge, skills and innovations in literacy policy, practice, programming and research and dialogue on strategic actions they have taken to remediate the global learning poverty crisis. The conference will also build a critical mass of literacy leaders committed to innovating and providing sustainable literacy solutions for future-proofing education for sustainable development.

Core Objectives

    1. To bring together global leaders, policy makers, researchers, planners and practice experts to showcase cutting-edge knowledge, skills and innovations in literacy policy, practice, programming and research and dialogue on ways of remediating the global learning poverty crisis.

    2. Formulate a statement to the African Union calling for action on how to refocus resources to design effective strategies that will ensure literacy instruction for equity, empowerment and inclusiveness at formal and informal levels of education towards future-proofing education for sustainable development.

Specific Objectives

    1. To critically examine possible areas and causes of inequality in literacy skills and particular ways in which African literacy leaders, policy makers, and education planners can combine efforts to position literacy as a tool for offering a level playing field for all.

    2. To provide a forum for sharing latest research, skills, innovations and success stories on alleviating learning poverty in Africa.

    3. To examine the role of language of instruction in fostering literacy equity and reducing learning poverty.


Frequently Asked Questions

  • PALFA is an acronym that stands for Pan-African Literacy For All. The acronym is often used at conferences, in communications with delegates, sponsors, partners and other interested parties.

  • The PALFA conference is held biennially (once every two years). The conference takes place on a rotational basis in different African countries in East Africa, West Africa, Southern Africa and North Africa.

  • 1. Literacy administrators, both local and international, who have practical knowledge and effective ideas as well as the passion to promote practices and programs aimed at narrowing literacy gaps.

    2. Early childhood educators with practical experience.

    3. Curriculum specialists, both local and international, who will share key concepts and ideas when designing literacy curriculum and programs, and appropriate instructional materials.

    4. Multilateral partners involved in funding education.

    5. Literacy policy makers from both inside and outside Africa.

    6. Researchers and academics interested in literacy practices and social equity.

  • 1. Literacy curricula for alleviating the learning poverty crisis beyond 2023.

    2. The role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in redressing the learning poverty crisis.

    3. Early childhood literacy teaching and learning.

    4. Leadership for equitable student achievement.

    5. Literacy for equitable gender relations.

    6. The role of librarianship in enhancing literacy development.

    7. Literacy for equity outside the framework of formal education.

    8. Rethinking literacy and inclusion in mitigating the learning poverty crisis.

    9. The role of mother tongue in promotion of the diversity of African cultures within the literacy framework.

    10. Remediating learning poverty through sexual and reproductive health literacy.

  • • New initiatives to position literacy as a tool for sustainable development.

    • A suite of structured literacy pedagogy best practices package for remediating learning poverty.

    • Capacity-strengthening of African literacy educators for effective remediation of learning poverty.

    • Greater responsiveness among literacy curriculum developers to design inclusive and equitable literacy programs.

    • Improved and shared international understanding of the effects of inequitable literacy initiatives.

    • Better, deliberate, and rational allocation of resources for better literacy and learning outcomes.

  • All prospective participants must register and pay the requisite registration fee. To present at the conference, prosective participant ought to have submitted an abstract of their presentation before the deadline and prepare a complete paper, project, workshop or poster to present during the conference. Information on how to submit abstracts was contained in the Call for Abstracts.

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