Basic Education Director-General leads South African Delegation to the 22nd Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers

Director-General of Basic Education, Mr Mathanzima Mweli, led the South African delegation to the 22nd Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (22CCEM) from 16 to 17 May 2024. The Ministerial Conference was preceded by a Senior Officials’ Meeting on the morning of the 16th May to prepare for the Ministerial Conference that kick-started on the afternoon of the 16th. The CCEM is a high-level meeting serving as a critical forum to discuss ways to realise the potential of the 2.6 billion Commonwealth citizens through inclusive and equitable learning opportunities for all skill levels and life stages. The South African delegation consisted of senior officials from both the Department of Basic Education, and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The 22CCEM took place under the theme Driving Resilience, Equity, and Skills for an Inclusive Future. The theme aligns with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting's overarching theme, One Resilient Common Future: Transforming our Commonwealth. The Conference aims to foster stronger collaboration amongst Commonwealth countries, facilitating the exchange of best practices and mutual support in addressing education challenges.

Discussions at the Conference focused on three thematic streams namely resilience and sustainability of education systems; resilience and innovative societies and economies through technology; and resilience and learner transitions within and outside the education system.

Delegates to the meeting engaged in critical conversations to drive forward education in all Commonwealth nations to address education inequity, especially for young people, women, people with disabilities and those living in poverty.

Education ministers were urged to accelerate action to endorse strategies aimed at accelerating inclusion and ensuring equitable access to education for the purpose of fostering growth and employability. Moreover, the conference raised the need to develop resilient learning systems that can withstand crises and disruptions. This will involve improving the quality of learning, addressing learning disparities, and promoting environmental sustainability through education. Equally important was the reflection on strategies to collaboratively harness technology to disrupt the most pressing challenges in improving access to education for all, as well as focus on improving the quality of education for all.

The Conference was concluded with the adoption of an outcome statement, reaffirming the collaborative commitment of the CCEM to prioritise education, promote education financing, prioritise human capital development, harness AI for inclusive education, promote digital transformation, enhance multilateral collaboration and acknowledge the intrinsic link between health and education, especially in combatting non-communicable diseases.

The outcomes of the conference will be presented at the upcoming Heads of Governments Meeting in Samoa in October 2024.

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