Review and Development of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Education Portfolio: Phase 2

As part of the process of supporting the improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of the Southern Africa Development Community’s (SADC) education and training portfolio it has been proposed by SADC with the support of the Open Society of Southern Africa (OSISA) to contract the Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD) to develop a youth education and development strategy for the region.

Author

October 30th, 2012

As part of the process of supporting the improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of the Southern Africa Development Community’s (SADC) education and training portfolio it has been proposed by SADC with the support of the Open Society of Southern Africa (OSISA) to contract the Centre for Education Policy Development (CEPD) to develop a youth education and development strategy for the region. Such a strategy, which is absent at the moment is needed in order to articulate SADC’s engagement with what is acknowledged as a key area of development need in the region, as levels of youth who are not in education, employment and training (NEETs) continues to rise across the region with unemployment rates of over 80% in some member countries.

A recent study conducted by OSISA in collaboration with dvv International confirms the need for such a strategy given the growing population of young people in the region who are facing a bleak future because of the failure of the education systems. This project is a follow up to a two year process to support the SADC education portfolio to better support member states in the realisation of education and development. This proposal therefore integrates the necessary capacitation of the portfolio with the development of the strategy.

In 2011 the SADC worked with OSISA in contracting the CEPD to strengthen the SADC Secretariat’s education and training portfolio such that it can impact much more effectively on the planning and delivery of education and training services across the region. A research report was undertaken in 2011 which detailed the perceptions of the SADC Education and Training Portfolio and Protocol across the SADC member states. This report identified a number of structural and communication weaknesses in the way that the Portfolio works, poor knowledge of the Protocol, and, there was some discussion of the areas where member states would like to see more leadership from the Portfolio. This list included youth and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

SADC is aware that while the African Union has developed its African Youth Charter (AU Commission, 2006), which was adopted by the AU in 2006 and ratified by a majority of SADC states in 2011, SADC has no document guiding developments in this sector. This was a key concern raised at the SADC Council of Ministers meeting held in Windhoek in 2010 and the recent SADC ministerial summit on higher education and training reiterated the SADC concern with higher and further education. This initiative is being developed to address these gaps. The initiative is premised on the fact that sub-Sahara Africa has an opportunity to exploit its ‘demographic dividend’ of high population of young people. It has a falling birth rate, relatively few old people and there is a population bulge among young people particularly those between the 15-24 year age group.

This population bulge could be used to drive economic growth, but equally could become a deadweight slowing growth down. A strategy that addresses the development needs of this population group is therefore imperative.
This project falls with the OSISA education programme strategy focus on strengthening governance and management in the education sector. OSISA and CEPD will work on this project collaboratively with the SADC Director for Social and Human Development and Special Programmes, who would provide strategic oversight, supported by the Technical Advisor for Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Youth and the Co-ordinator for the Portfolio for Education and Training.

In 2011 the SADC worked with OSISA in contracting the CEPD to strengthen the SADC Secretariat’s education and training portfolio such that it can impact much more effectively on the planning and delivery of education and training services across the region. A research report was undertaken in 2011 which detailed the perceptions of the SADC Education and Training Portfolio and Protocol across the SADC member states. This report identified a number of structural and communication weaknesses in the way that the Portfolio works, poor knowledge of the Protocol, and, there was some discussion of the areas where member states would like to see more leadership from the Portfolio. This list included youth and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

SADC is aware that while the African Union has developed its African Youth Charter (AU Commission, 2006), which was adopted by the AU in 2006 and ratified by a majority of SADC states in 2011, SADC has no document guiding developments in this sector. This was a key concern raised at the SADC Council of Ministers meeting held in Windhoek in 2010 and the recent SADC ministerial summit on higher education and training reiterated the SADC concern with higher and further education. This initiative is being developed to address these gaps. The initiative is premised on the fact that sub-Sahara Africa has an opportunity to exploit its ‘demographic dividend’ of high population of young people.

It has a falling birth rate, relatively few old people and there is a population bulge among young people particularly those between the 15-24 year age group. This population bulge could be used to drive economic growth, but equally could become a deadweight slowing growth down. A strategy that addresses the development needs of this population group is therefore imperative.

This project falls with the OSISA education programme strategy focus on strengthening governance and management in the education sector. OSISA and CEPD will work on this project collaboratively with the SADC Director for Social and Human Development and Special Programmes, who would provide strategic oversight, supported by the Technical Advisor for Orphans, Vulnerable Children and Youth and the Co-ordinator for the Portfolio for Education and Training.

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