South Africa

Joined UNESCO: 12/12/1994

Head of State and/or Government

President of the Republic: His Excellency Mr Cyril Ramaphosa

Permanent Delegation to UNESCO

H. E. Mr Rapulane Sydney Molekane
Ambassador Extraordinary and plenipotentiary of South Africa in France, Permanent Delegate (10/02/2015)

Permanent Delegation of the Republic of South Africa to UNESCO
Ambassade de l'Afrique du Sud 59, Quai d'Orsay 75343 PARIS Cedex 07 UNESCO Headquarters : B6.38/39

National Commission for UNESCO

President: Mrs AM Motshekga, MP

Chairperson: Prof. Ihron Rensburg

Deputy Chairperson: Prof. S. Makhanya

Secretary-General: Mr Carlton Mukwevho

South African National Commission for UNESCO
222 Struben Street 0001 Pretoria South Africa
+(27-12) 357 3486 (SG) Ms Tabisa Govuza, Secretary: +(27-12) 357 3498
Mukwevho.C(a) (SG); Govuza.t(a) (PA);

Read more National Commission for UNESCO

Representation in the Executive Board

The 1991 amendment modified Article V of the Constitution, regarding the status of members of the Board. From the 27th session of the General Conference (1993), the Executive Board consists of Member States rather than of persons (26 C/Resolution 19.3).
Title Name Years Sessions
Representative2005-2009172 - 181

Participation in subsidiary organs

Organs elected by the General Conference

Executive Board
Member (Term expires : 2019)
Council of the UNESCO International Bureau of Education
Bureau Member : Pending, either South Africa or Madagascar
Member (Term expires : 41st General Conference)
International Coordinating Council of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere
Member (Term expires : 41st General Conference)
Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport
Member (Term expires : 41st General Conference)
Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics
Members designated by UNESCO's Director-General : Ms Carol NUGA DELIWE (Term expires : 31 December 2021)
Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme
Member (Term expires : 41st General Conference)

Other intergovernmental organs

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
Vice-President : Dr Ashley Johnson

Councils of UNESCO's Institutes and Centres

Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education
Member : Mr. Kuzvinetsa Peter DZVIMBO
Governing Board of the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity-Building in Africa
Chairperson : Mr. Duncan Hindle (Term expires : September 2013)

Addresses delivered in the general policy debate by the Head of Delegation at the General Conference

36 session of the General Conference

H.E. Mrs Angelina MOTSHEKGA, Minister of Basic Education

Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 36th session of the General Conference and posted as received

35 session of the General Conference

H.E. Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training

“(…) This Conference takes place in the midst of a global financial and economic crisis. This places enormous strains on all countries and the United Nations system. The President of South Africa stated at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly recently in New York that the financial crisis should not be an excuse to delay further action on the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals. Rather, it should urge us to double our efforts to achieve greater progress.”
“(…) UNESCO’s commitment to lead the global education agenda and coordinate international efforts in education is crucial. The mobilization of political and financial commitments through engagement with EFA partners as well as structures such as the G8 must be strengthened. The estimated $8.3 billion required annually by Africa to achieve the MDG and EFA goals by 2015, and the heavy shortfall faced by the Catalytic Fund of the EFA Fast Track Initiative (EFA-FTI), places Africa at serious risk.”
“(…) As outgoing chair of COMEDAF, we must ensure that UNESCO continues to support the African Union in implementing the Second Decade’s Plan of Action.”
“(…) As emphasized at the World Conference on Higher Education, Higher Education is a public good and it is the responsibility of all stakeholders, especially governments. We must continue to work towards increasing both access and quality of higher education, particular in Africa where enrolments remain extremely low. Higher Education contributes to sustainable development, peace, and the realization of human rights including gender equity.”
“(…) We look forward to the establishment of two Category 2 centres in Africa: Regional Centre for the Living Arts in Africa at Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso and the African World Heritage Fund in my country, South Africa.”
“(…) We look forward to extending our hospitality as we witness history in the making when the African continent hosts its first soccer World Cup. We have been afforded a strategic opportunity to focus global attention on the need to mobilize support for the EFA imperatives through the ONE GOAL campaign that urges donor countries to honour the commitments made towards education in the developing world.”

34 session of the General Conference

H.E. Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Education

“As we gather here in Paris, it is fitting that we consider ways of strengthening UNESCO’s ability to respond effectively to the pressing challenges of education opportunity, scientific exclusion and cultural discrimination. These are challenges that confront millions of people on the five continents that make up our world. To those millions, UNESCO is a haven of promise and opportunity. The reality of so many millions dependant on our actions and our deliberations should spur us to act with focus and energy to ameliorate the impoverished conditions experienced by children and adults world-wide.”
“One of the truisms we should draw energy from is the fact that the most marginalized in the world continue to have faith in the United Nations and its key organs. Girls continue to believe UNESCO will facilitate access to and success in education. Marginalized communities believe their indigenous knowledge will enjoy protection under the banner of UNESCO, and that the march of science will not mean that they lose their national control of the intellectual property that is an inherent part of their villages, forests and towns. The aspirations of these citizens of the world should shape our agenda at this and future conferences.”
“I wish to applaud the work of the Executive Board and the Director-General. We must be concerned, if we give scant attention to reviews of our influence in ensuring more children are educated well or that more scientists from Africa are trained in Africa and work in Africa. We must be concerned, if more girls and women do not enjoy basic education and that increasing cultural diversity is not a basis for national pride and unity.”
“The restructuring of UNESCO field offices toward more problem-solving is urgently necessary. The Executive Board is, I believe, correct in promoting decentralization, but such remodelling must include decentralizing senior officials to the real areas of need. Furthermore, it is vital that more funding is devoted to programmes and system support. Let us take conference money and create 60 science bursaries for girls from the south to do postgraduate studies.”
“All of us know that education is an expensive area of policy action, because of the huge numbers of teachers and support staff that are necessary to effective education. UNESCO has, of course, to be better funded to carry out its strategic agenda. Of course, we believe that we, as Member States, need to assist this funding of UNESCO by ensuring that we pay our contributions regularly.”
“This Organization […] has built an excellent record in its six decades of existence. We need to extend this record by ensuring that all children of the world have quality education; all who need to learn to read and write are able to; that we bridge the digital divide; and that we build bonds of cultural friendship and respect for diversity within and between nations. Our organization, the African Union, has encouraged education ministers to begin working in the kind of focused approach I have suggested in my comments. In 2006 we agreed to a second decade plan for education in Africa, because we had failed to successfully execute the first decade. The priority areas of our plan are higher education; gender and culture; education management information systems; teacher development; technical and vocational education and training; curriculum and teaching and learning material development; and the management of our systems.”
“These priorities, we believe, should inform the content of UNESCO’s “priority Africa” plan. As the Conference of Education Ministers of the African Union agreed, we will use our resources, our meagre resources, and our partner support to advance educational access and the quality of education on our continent. […] It is our firm belief that UNESCO can play a vital role in partnership with the African Union and its partner organizations, such as ADEA.”

Celebration of anniversaries

100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1918-2013) (South Africa with the support of Namibia and Swaziland)

Nelson Mandela was one of the greatest leaders of the twenty-first century, and undoubtedly one of the great moral leaders of our time. He was revered everywhere as a vital force in the fight for human rights and racial equality. Nelson Mandela served as South Africa's first democratically elected president from 1994 to 1999, overseeing his country’s transition from minority rule and winning international respect for promoting reconciliation.
He played a significant role to advocate for democracy, freedom and justice and in the struggle against colonialism and racial oppression within the region and world. He is an international icon for peace and reconciliation.
Nelson Mandela is one of the most important figures in the liberation history of South Africa. His philosophy for non-racial and non-sexist societies transcended narrow racial lines and became a cornerstone for a new democratic South Africa, which was admired throughout the world. He had a lot of passion for education, believing that education is the most powerful weapon, which can be used to change societies. Mandela was involved in humanitarian programmes such as advocating for children rights and raising awareness for HIV and Aids in developing countries.
A UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and 1991 Laureate of the Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, Nelson Mandela's legacy resonates with the mission of UNESCO, to empower all women and men on the basis of their equal rights and dignity, to promote dialogue and solidarity for justice and lasting peace. This action, this spirit has never been so important.

  • 50th anniversary of the Rivonia process, which led to Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment in his fight against apartheid (1962) (2012)

  • This celebration is in line with the spirit of the United Nations’ decision to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day. It will provide also an occasion to reiterate UNESCO’s recognition of its Goodwill Ambassador actions in favour of peace, democracy, respect for cultural diversity, national reconciliation and mutual understanding among citizens and peoples from different origins.
    For the whole world and for younger generations in particular, Nelson Mandela personifies the fight against violence and injustice by peaceful means. The celebration of the 50th anniversary of the imprisonment of Dr Nelson Mandela will serve to raise awareness, particularly among youth, of the importance of efforts to promote peace and non-violence.

  • 50th anniversary of the creation of the Pan African Women’s Organization (PAWO) (1962) (2012)

  • PAWO was formed in 1962 when a group of African women freedom fighters paid a courtesy call to Mr Julius Nyerere, then Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania to support his efforts for the creation of the unborn Organization of African Unity. The warm support they received from him was the first gender consciousness of the Pan-African movement.
    The Pan African Women’s Organization played a significant role in the creation of the Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) and in the continent‘s political independence.
    PAWO proposed the celebration of 31 July as African Women’s Day, which is celebrated all over the continent. It aims at ensuring full and effective participation of women in political, economic and social development particularly in member countries and internationally. It is at the origin of a movement to empower women in the continent and to struggle for improvement of the status of women and strengthen, through cooperation and solidarity, African women and women of the world. Several African decision-makers learnt with PAWO about the necessity to work for the emancipation of women and participated in the awareness-raising activities promoted by this African civil society organization.

  • Seventy-fifth anniversary of the announcement of the discovery of the Taung Skull, the first of Africa’s ancient fossil hominid discoveries (2000)