18 June 2019

Southern Africa: SADC Officials Exchange Notes On Education

Senior officials from several Southern African Development Community countries are meeting in Windhoek for four days to discuss strategic frameworks in the education, training and science sector.

The meeting is being held under the theme 'Promoting infrastructure development and youth empowerment', with officials representing the education, science, technology and innovation, and vocational education and training fields.

During the opening remarks yesterday, higher education executive director Alfred van Kent said the area of space science and technology is one that can facilitate urban planning, environmental management, climate change monitoring, communication and access to education.

"Although we have realised the importance of these areas for the African renaissance, few countries have managed to meet the target of 1% of GDP investment in science, technology and industry, a commitment that was endorsed by many African states in 1980," he stated.

Van Kent added that Namibia spends 20%-25% of its national budgets on education, but the quality of the outcomes of education systems remains a challenge.

In Namibia, the basic education ministry received the biggest budget slice of N$10 billion, while the ministry of higher education received N$3,1 billion. He said although there are many opportunities for development as well as improving access to quality education and training, there are also serious challenges of cyber security and cyber bullying.

"The fourth Industrial Revolution is on our doorsteps, and it puts data, analytics, robotics and artificial intelligence, and machine learning in front of us. Are we ready to become players in this digital economy?" he asked.

The meeting will also focus on the implementation of the protocol on science, technology and innovation, education and skills development, and the SADC charter on women in science, engineering and technology.

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