Overview of the Regional Office

Harare Field Office in Zimbabwe

Regional Office for Southern Africa, located in Harare, Zimbabwe

The UNESCO Office in Harare was initially established in 1986 as a sub-regional office for education in Southern Africa, with a special emphasis on higher education, following a recommendation of the 5th UNESCO Conference of Ministers of Education in Africa (1982). Since then, it has also played the role of cluster office, covering four countries (Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and, following the most recent restructuring, has since 2014 regained a regional role as the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa, covering all of UNESCO’s programme sectors: Education, Sciences, Culture, and, Communication and Information, in nine countries, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, with national offices in Mozambique and Namibia.

Consequently, its capacity has been enhanced to mobilize and co-ordinate UNESCO’s programme strategy and action at the regional level, in close co-operation with UNESCO headquarters, other field offices and National Commissions for UNESCO.

The office also serves as UNESCO’s focal point for cooperation with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) as well as for the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

The Office hosts the National Education Statistical Information Systems (NESIS) project.


Mission and Vision

Guided by the principles of cultural diversity and human dignity and in collaboration with its partners, governments and institutions, the regional office seeks to advocate for and build countries’ capacity for

  • the provision of universal access to quality basic education and expanded access to pre-basic, post-basic and continuing education;
  • the development and application of scientific and technological knowledge for social development;
  • the promotion of cultural diversity and the preservation of the world’s cultural heritage;
  • the expansion of access to information and communication technologies.

Through the regional office UNESCO undertakes these actions in the regional by focusing on poverty reduction, HIV/AIDS prevention and the mitigation of its impacts, especially among women and young people.

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