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Minister Motshekga delivers Republic of South Africa’s National Statement at 41st Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris

Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education and President of the South African National Commission for UNESCO, delivered the Republic of South Africa’s National Statement at the 41st Session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris on 10 November 2021. The UNESCO General Conference, which takes place from 9 to 24 November 2021, features a rich array of education events, including the launch of the much-anticipated Report on the Futures of Education and the Global Education Meeting that took place on 10 November 2021.

Minister Motshekga congratulated UNESCO on its 75th Anniversary, adding that, after the devastating effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, “South Africa stands ready to provide full support towards UNESCO’s principles of multilateralism; international law; the advancement of global human rights; the promotion of global peace and security; as well as advocating for the transmission of education and culture, liberty, justice and dignity for all humankind. Whilst we thought that we were progressing well in the advancement of UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the achievement of the overall vision and mission of the African Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA) 2016-2025, the pandemic descended on the world in an unprecedented fashion; and exposed the deep levels of inequalities, inequities, injustice and indignation that persist among most communities of the world. However, SA’s new Medium-Term Strategic Framework for 2022-2029, includes among its priorities, Africa and Gender Equality,” said Minister Motshekga.

“South Africa welcomes the developments on Open Sciences, Global Priority Africa; the benchmarking of the value of the Sustainable Development Goals on Education; the adoption of the Draft Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence; and supports the call for increased resources to be availed for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). I am pleased that South Africa hosts the Open Science Platform for the African Continent. The mainstreaming of Science across the programmes and intersectoral projects of UNESCO, is vital to successfully tackle inequality amongst communities; climate change; future pandemics; the digital gap; and for the advancement of sustainable development. STEM education is the gateway to the requisite 21st Century skill-sets. We thank the Natural Sciences Sector for assisting in reinforcing science education in our schools, especially for young girls.  We are excited to announce that South Africa will host the World Science Forum in December 2022. The theme of this Forum, will be Science for Social Justice. This will be the first time that this Forum is held on the African Continent”, added the Minister.

SA is at an advanced stage in ratifying the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education, adopted by the 40th Session of the General Conference. In addition, SA also hosted the Global Media and Information Literacy Week during October 2021, and was awarded the PUKU Children’s Literature Foundation with the 2021 UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize for its work on using digital technologies to promote children’s literature in South Africa’s indigenous languages. SA has presented its candidature to serve on the UNESCO Executive Board for the term 2021 to 2025, as well as to serve as a valuable member of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme through its nomination to the Executive Board to continue to support UNESCO in the implementation of its programmes, projects and activities, aligned with its Strategic Framework; and particularly regarding the UNESCO priorities of Global Priority Africa and Gender Equality

The UNESCO General Conference is chaired by the President of the General Conference, His Excellency, Mr Santiago Irazabal Mouräo, and Director-General of UNESCO, Her Excellency, Ms Audrey Azoulay, and is attended by Member States Ministers and delegates from around the globe.

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