The Education programme at the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa provides support in educational areas to the member states under its coverage, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Areas of support include: Literacy, Policies and Planning, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Education Management Information Systems (EMIS), Teacher Education, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), ICT in Education.
On a broader level, the Office also promotes UNESCO's role in the global post-2015 agenda, under the Sustainable Development Goals.
The sustainable development goal (SDG) directly relevant to the work of the education unit at ROSA is SDG 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Below the targets under this goal:
- Target 4.1: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes
- Target 4.2: By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education
- Target 4.3: By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
- Target 4.4: By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
- Target 4.5: By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations
- Target 4.6: By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
- Target 4.7: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
- Target 4.a: Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
- Target 4.b: By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries
- Target 4.c: By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States
In preparation for the conclusion of the Education For All (EFA) agenda developed under the Millenium Development Goal 2, “Achieve Universal Primary Education”, also concluding in 2015 and the transition to the Sustainable Development Goals, countries in Southern Africa, had prepared a number of reports, including an “EFA Questionnaire and and “EFA National Review Report”, in order to assess their progress towards the EFA goals. UNESCO has supported the countries in the sub region with this important review, both through technical and financial means These reports also contributed to the Regional EFA meeting in Kigali, Ruanda in February, 2015, as well as preparing member states for the 2015 World Education Forum, in Korea. Following this process the education unit at ROSA focused in its programme in 2015 on regional consultations in a variety to thematic areas, in order to develop regional strategies and action plans and to prepare member states for the transition to the SDG agenda.
A Regional Support Strategy Workshop on Education was held in Harare in October 2015. With the theme “Developing an Education Support Strategy for Southern Africa”, the workshop provided a platform for governments and UNESCO Education Program Specialists to draft an Education Support Strategy and Regional plan of action for Southern Africa, following the regional consultations and meetings, tying together all education areas and strategizing plans for the implementation of SDG 4. The regional Education Support Strategy Workshop was complemented by the regional meeting of Secretaries-General of all National Commissions in the region, discussing the transition to the SDGs across all UNESCO sectors and coinciding with the offices celebrations of the UNESCO 70th anniversary and the ushering in of the SDGs under the theme “70 Years for 17 Goals”.
The Education unit at ROSA has dedicated its strategic focus on consulting with member states on a variety of education thematic areas and of establishing a regional information basis through exchange of best practices and the identification of common challenges, to lead of regional strategies and action plans for Education in general, but also specifically regional meetings were held for specific thematic areas, including Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Literacy, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), teachers, higher education, overall objective regional strategy and transition to SDGs, in particular SDG 4 on education.