What is it about?
There has been a long-standing context of cooperation between the European Union and the Republic of South Africa in their cooperation in education and training. Since the signature of a Joint Declaration in Education and Training in May 2012, there have been three South Africa-European Union Senior Officials Meetings organised back-to back with workshops and seminars from topics ranging from the Internationalisation of Higher Education to the Teacher and Lecturers Profession.
Why is it needed?
The European Union and the Republic of South Africa acknowledge the crucial contribution of education and training to the development of knowledge-based societies and economies and the key role they play in boosting growth and jobs. They also recognise the importance of education and training for the personal development of their citizens and social cohesion in their societies. Both sides consider that enhancing co-operation and dialogue on education and training is instrumental to improve mutual understanding and to strengthen their respective position with regard to the challenges they face in an ever-globalising knowledge-based society and economy.
The Joint Action Plan signed in Brussels on 14 May 2007 was to implement the South Africa - European Union Strategic Partnership, including cooperation on Education and Training. The conclusions of the EU-SA Joint Cooperation Council meetings of 4 November 2008 and 23 July 2009 called for broadening cooperation to the areas of Education and Training. A Joint Declaration between the European Union and the Republic of South Africa was subsequently signed on 17 May 2012 on enhanced cooperation in the fields of education and training and forms the basis of a strategic dialogue, the purpose being to discuss topics of common interest at a senior official level, exchange best practices, review cooperation in programmes, organise studies, workshops and seminars in agreed areas of mutual interest and identify concrete areas for future cooperation.
What has been done so far?
The first South Africa-European Union Senior Officials' Meeting and Workshop on the Internationalisation of Higher Education was held on 4 November 2013 in Brussels. A workshop on the internationalisation of higher education took place on 5-6 November 2013.
A second meeting was held on 30 July 2014 in Cape Town while the third meeting was held on 28 October 2015 in Brussels.
Held alongside the third Senior Officials Meeting between the European Commission and the South African Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), was the EU-South Africa seminar on teacher and lecturer professionalism on 29 and 30 October 2015. The aim of the seminar was to bring together stakeholders from EU Member States and South Africa to debate key issues related to the professionalism of teachers and educators, identify common challenges and share best practices.
In addition, a South Africa-European Union Workshop on Lecturer Development was held on 26-27 March 2015 in Pretoria.
Furthermore, a study on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teacher education in Africa through international cooperation, commissioned jointly by the European Commission (DG EAC) and the South African Department for Higher Education and Training, was published.
This study had three broad objectives. Firstly, it sought to compare experiences on the education and training of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) teachers in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Tanzania, and Cameroon. Secondly, it sought to get input from inspiring practices from European Member States. Lastly, policy pointers were proposed for further action. This study was commissioned as part of the South Africa – EU Strategic Partnership sectoral policy dialogue in education. Data was collected between December 2014 and September 2015. The study serves as input to that policy dialogue, as well as the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, in particular in relation to the education and training of upper secondary and higher TVET teachers working in institution-based TVET providers in the formal public education system.
What are the next steps?
The 4th edition of the EU-South Africa meeting on education and training is taking place on 4 May 2017 at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.