10.07.2019 - UNESCO Office in Harare

UNESCO ROSA participates in the Joint Meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Education and Training and Science, Technology and Innovation

UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa participated in the joint meeting of SADC Ministers responsible for Education and Training; and Science, Technology and Innovation (ET-STI) held in Windhoek, Namibia from 20-21 June 2019.

12 SADC Member States and key regional and international partners including the African Union (AU), the International Science Council (ISC), International Labour Organisation (ILO), Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Southern Africa Regional Universities Association (SARUA), and NEPAD Southern African Network of Water Centres of Excellence (SANWATCE) attended this annual meeting.

Namibia’s Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Honourable Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Honourable Itah Kandjii-Murangi, co-chaired the meeting.  Both Ministers highlighted the importance of increased investments in education, science, technology and innovation to support industrial development in the region, the need to increase the uptake of TVET to support entrepreneurship and skills development, and the importance of harmonising education policies in the region to facilitate mobility of skills and labour.

In his remarks, SADC Secretariat Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo underscored the need to bridge the barriers for industrial development such as infrastructure in relation to connectivity, to address the skills gap in the region and strengthen linkages between industry and academia. 

The Ministers endorsed the Report on SADC Engineering Needs and Numbers Study. They acknowledged that the gaps in technical and engineering professions and energy deficit challenges were negatively affecting economic development and growth within the region and recommended that Member States should introduce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at early stages in the education curriculum to increase the number of students taking up studies in engineering fields.
Noting the significant progress on the SADC capacity building and development of a regional training programme on STI Policy and Governance for Parliamentarians and Senior Officials, which is being supported by UNESCO, the stakeholders were mandated to finalise the training programme and take into consideration issues on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and outcomes of the First SADC Regional Report on Research and Development Investment as well as outcomes of the First SADC Regional Conference of Vice Chancellors and Deans of Education, Science, Engineering and Technology.

In a bid to increase the participation of women in science, engineering and technology, Member States were urged to establish respective National Women in Science, Engineering and Technology Chapters by March 2020. The participants recognised the urgent need to train a critical mass of renewable energy technicians and experts, including in other balance of system components such as battery technology and inverter systems. Steps should be taken to promote research and development in renewable energy in the region, leading to the fabrication of some renewable energy components in the region.

The Ministers present commended the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa for supporting SADC Secretariat and individual countries in the implementation of the Decisions taken at the joint meeting of Ministers in June 2018 and requested UNESCO to continue to provide the same for the decisions of 2019.

For more information, please contact: m.zebaze-kana(at)unesco.org or c.medel-anonuevo(at)unesco.org.  

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