Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Education and Training, Science, Technology and Innovation convened a virtual meeting on the 16th June 2021 chaired by the Republic of Mozambique.
The Ministerial Meeting was attended by SADC ministers from Angola, Botswana, DRC, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The meeting was chaired by Minister Carmilita Rita Namashulua, Mozambique’s Minister of Education and Human Development.
Minister Namashulua delivered the official opening remarks and highlighted that the meeting would address key policy decisions, especially in the areas of education and training, science, technology and innovation, such as regional skills audit for establishment of the SADC University of Transformation; report on the mapping of regional centres of excellence and centres of specialisation; and education sector response to COVID-19 pandemic; among others.
SADC Deputy Executive Secretary Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, underscored that both the SADC Vision 2050 and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030 position education and training, science, technology and innovation as critical components of regional integration as outlined under Pillar 3 on Social and Human Capital Development and under Pillar 1 on Industrial Development and Market Integration.
He commended ministers for coming together to consider and approve key sectoral policy measures towards the realisation of the SADC Vision of “a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle to high income industrialised Region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice and freedom”.
Other speakers who delivered statements were Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources Science and Technology; Mr Symerre Grey-Johnson, African Union development agency New Partnership for Africa’s Development NEPAD Director of Technical Co-operation and Programme Funding; Ms Stefania Giannini; Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO; and Mr Joshua Phoho Setipa, MD of the UN Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries
The ministers noted the report on the draft proposal on the hosting of the administrative office of the SADC University of Transformation; approved the establishment of the proposed Technical Working Group; and directed SADC Secretariat to operationalise the Technical Working Group and report progress at the next Joint Meeting of Ministers of Education and Training, Science, Technology and Innovation.
The ministers noted the Report on SADC Member States Education Sector Response to COVID-19 which was conducted during the first phase of the pandemic which also included the sharing of best practices.
They directed the Secretariat to disseminate the report to member states to provide additional information and confirm data before publication and submission; and the Secretariat to conduct a follow up comprehensive study on COVID-19 to provide an update on the status of the impact of the pandemic on the education sector, including case studies on innovations conducted by member states and reflect other policy measures such as ICT infrastructure and regulations.
They urged member states to nominate national focal points to provide regular reports on COVID-19 responses and continue implementing and augmenting their COVID-19 measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 to minimise inequity and disruptions.The ministers further urged member states to increase investment in the production of disaggregated data and promote a culture of data use at all levels to inform policy and requested UNESCO to extend its support for data capacity building initiatives and facilitate peer learning, sharing of best practices and exchange programmes to member states and directed the Secretariat to provide a regional update on the Sustainable Development Goal targets and report progress by member states. – SADC