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SADC Member States join forces to address Education and Training, Science, Technology and Innovation in the region

South Africa is the current chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The Departments of Basic Education (DBE), Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Science and Technology (DST) therefore hosted the Joint Meeting of Ministers responsible for Education and Training, Science, Technology and Innovation (JMM). The meeting was aimed at strengthening co-operation among SADC Member States. The Senior Officials Meeting took place at Fairmont Zimbali Resort, in Durban from 18 to 20 June 2018, and was followed by the Ministers Meeting on 21 to 22 June 2018.

The five day meeting was attended by ministers and senior officials from across 11 SADC Member States including Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Eswatini, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Seychelles and Mauritius, Tanzania, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.

In this sector, there are various committees in which the DBE participates. These include the committee for Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL); and the Task Team for the Development of the Regional Framework for Teacher Standards and Competences, amongst others. All committees reported progress made during South Africa’s chairship.

During the presentation of the progress report of the CSTL, the Chief Director for Care and Support at the DBE, Dr Faith Kumalo, indicated that the Programme is a SADC initiative intended to realise the educational rights of all children, through schools becoming inclusive centres of learning, care and support. CSTL seeks to facilitate context-specific responses to the various barriers to learning. Dr Kumalo also shared the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) implemented by the DBE. In her remarks she invited Ministers to note that the school feeding programme has benefits beyond education, as it contributes to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr Enoch Rabotapi, Chief Director for Curriculum and Professional Development, presented a report from the Task Team for the Development of the Regional Framework for Teacher Standards and Competences. Mr Rabotapi said that teachers are central to quality education: “The SADC framework will give value and legitimacy to national frameworks and processes, whilst providing a point of reference for quality education in the SADC region”.

The South African Council for Educators (SACE) made a presentation on the Role of Professional Registration in the Benchmarking of Teacher Professional Status in the SADC. According to the Chief Executive for SACE, Ms Ella Mokgalane, teacher migration in the region is inevitable thus there is a need to ensure teacher mobility happens seamlessly. She recommended that there be an establishment of teacher regulatory authorities in the SADC countries with the ultimate goal of professional registration being recognised, and transferable across the SADC member countries.

The meeting also commended the DBE for offering the SA-SAMS software package to other SADC member states. Ms Carinne Van der Westhuizen reported that the software is meant to assist member states in their day to day management of school administration. This will enable user countries to have accurate and up to date information on education; thereby improving policy development, planning, and monitoring and evaluation.

All the input and recommendations from the Senior Officials Meeting were presented to the Ministers for consideration.

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