The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) says South Africa has reached a number of milestones in education since it formulated its first White Paper on the Development of Education and Training in 1995.
“South Africa is very much on the right track, especially with the learning outcomes and monitoring. South Africa should support other countries – they can learn a lot from it,” said UNESCO Senior Programme Specialist for Education, Carolyn Medel-Anonuevo.
She was speaking on behalf of the UNESCO regional office for Southern Africa at the annual Education for All (EFA) stakeholders’ meeting and the launch of the Global Monitoring Report (GMR) held in Pretoria on Friday.
Medel-Anonuevo said South Africa is advanced in terms of education compared with other countries in the continent. She said more African countries need to partner with South Africa to learn about its literacy programmes like Kha Ri Gude.
“I think Grade R is also a very good initiative and it is bearing fruit. I think South Africa should share this strategy with other countries,” she said.
However, Medel-Anonuevo said, the country still needs to do more despite the progress it has made in the last 20 years.
“Access to education has been addressed but it needs to be addressed more, especially in the rural schools and also for learners with disabilities,” she said.
She said equity across all schools in the country should also be promoted and linked to the question of access to quality education.
Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty said the meeting and the launch touched on various issues including EFA goals, Early Childhood Development (ECD), quality education, life skills and gender equality.
He agreed that South Africa has done well in education over the years. He said South Africa has reached its targets in terms of EFA goals and should continue doing so.
“We recognise the challenges that we face as a country. Education is central to our success and we will continue working hard. We are excited about the fact that we have achieved gender equality in our schools. We are paying particular attention to mathematics and science for our girl learners,” said the Deputy Minister.
He said South Africa has long formed partnerships with other African countries but it will strengthen its relations moving forward.
“Whatever resources we produce, we will make available to our sister countries at no cost and we share information and knowledge with them. The relationship between South Africa and other countries in the continent is extremely good.
“What is important is for us to strengthen our relationship and meet more often and share best practice and learn from each other,” said Deputy Minister Surty.
He said South Africa had achieved Millennium Development Goal 2, which calls for universal access to basic education, before the targeted date of 2015.
“To this end, the DBE has ensured that the majority of learners in the country are attending educational institutions. Major inroads have been made in improving the quality of education thereof,” said Deputy Minister Surty.
He said the 2014 EFA country progress report produced by the Basic Education Department has laid the foundation for crafting the post EFA goals to align them with the National Development Plan (NDP), Action Plan towards Schooling 2025, and Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).