Deputy Minister Enver Surty
Director-General Bobby Soobrayan
ADEA Chairman, Mr Dzingai Mutumbuka
ADEA Executive Secretary, Mr Ahlin BYLL-CATARIA
President of Business Unity SA, Ms Futhi Mtoba
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Once more, thank you most warmly for bringing to South Africa the consultative meeting on private-public partnerships for education and training. We’re pleased to welcome you at a time when Africa is making progress in the education sector.
Through all our efforts we’ve seen increases in gross enrolment rates with a 20% rise in primary education, about 15% in secondary education, and the rate has doubled in higher education (ADEA Concept Note, 2011: 4). In fact, South Africa has almost achieved universal access in primary education.
However, the stock of educated people with appropriate skills, particularly in gateway subjects, remains too small for maintaining Africa’s cycle of sustainable economic growth (Ibid, 2011:5).
The SA Ministry of Basic Education therefore welcomes the effort and resolve clearly to assess and define the role of the private sector in education and training in Africa.
We note with appreciation the commendable work of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) since its inception in 1988, as Donors to African Education.
The question of ‘how the private and public sector should work together to promote educational development’ is quite crucial.
What is not in question is the fact that there is a need to generate and mobilise additional resources for education.
As representatives of the people, we’re alive to the value of partnerships and their role in tackling development challenges.
Accordingly we have said in our country’s Delivery Agreement for Basic Education (October 2010) that:
“There must be a sufficient degree of agreement and commitment among the various stakeholders. Plans must be widely consulted and all stakeholders should be involved.”
Private-Public Partnerships will boost our work in diverse areas such as school infrastructure provisioning, provision of learning & teaching support materials, teacher development, early childhood development and design of education policies.
If we don’t get education and training right, Africa will remain an arena for conflict, instability, inequality and grinding poverty.
The commitments we made recently at UNESCO, in October 2011, on the pivotal issue of education quality, stand to benefit from cooperation and better coordination. In distinct ways, civil society organisations and private sector entities have invested vast resources in support for Education For All.
We think the key challenge is to coordinate and harness all these efforts, better aligning them to our development goals, especially in the light of the current global financial crisis.
We all stand to gain from partnerships – as governments that have committed to specific electoral mandates; the private sector that requires a mass of critical and technical skills for high production and communities for improved living standards.
This fact we acknowledged as the government of South Africa when we adopted with organised labour, the private sector and community representatives, an accord for Basic Education and partnerships with schools, on 13 July 2011.
Our collaborative approach as represented in this accord is based on the knowledge that: “Performance in the schooling system is at the heart of building the skills base for economic growth and development and ensuring that the society is able to achieve our equity and development goals” (2011: 4).
Many learners finish high school without mastery of mathematics and science – subjects very critical for success in competitive knowledge-based economies. From the plenary discussions, we expect insight on expertise, knowledge, skills and qualifications that are needed by the private sector.
The first Triennial, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, shows ADEA’s commitment to involve a wider range of stakeholders in the frank and open dialogue on education. Finding consensus around a realistic view of Africa’s future will help us shape education policies to meet Africa’s challenges.
To conclude, I must say, education reform in Africa is about democracy, human rights, peace and stability. Working together we can do more to improve the quality of learning and make it possible for all our people to have a better life in a better Africa and a better world.
Let us help Africa take its rightful place in the world!
I thank you.