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South Africa Government : Minister Angie Motshekga: 37th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO

11/11/2013 | 03:57pm US/Eastern

Statement by the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga during the 37th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO

11 Nov 2013

Mr President, Dr Hao Ping
The Chairperson of the Executive Board, Ms Alissandra Cummins
Director-General Irina Bokova
Honourable colleagues and delegates

We reach out to the people of the Philippines and share in their pain and suffering. We are heartened by the solidarity of the international community and know that South Africa too shall also make its contribution. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Phillippines.

Mr President, as we gather here in Paris, it is fitting that we consider ways of strengthening UNESCO's ability to respond to the pressing educational, scientific and cultural challenges which Africa and our fellow developing States face in achieving the Millennium Development Goals; and ensure their successful transmission into the development agenda beyond 2015.
In order for UNESCO to respond to these needs, it has to play a decisive leadership role on key issues of international concern and the Organization needs to be steered in a manner that will make it more effective.

Unfortunately the Organisation has been severely hamstrung by its financial situation. We thank UNESCO for maintaining Africa as a global priority despite these trying times. My delegation calls on UNESCO to continue to place the development of Africa high on its agenda and to remain seized with establishing a culture of peace, social cohesion and inclusion on the Continent.

Several African countries are experiencing sustained economic growth. This must be complemented by the support of programmes for the development of science, technology and engineering skills, especially for women, as well as the celebration and promotion of Africa's history, heritage, arts and cultures.

Mr President, the South African Government attaches great importance to education and since the advent of democracy in our country, successive administrations have prioritised education.

We consider education to be a key driver of development, which is why the South African Government has identified it as an apex priority. This is reflected in the budgetary priority given to education in our country.

We are mindful of the fact that despite great strides which have been made globally to improve access to primary education there is an urgent need to turn our attention to the implications of expanded access and to address the quality of education. Equity along with quality remains out of reach and a critical element of a post-2015 agenda that should be aimed at lifelong learning. In addition values and attitudes informed by social justice, equality, tolerance; non-sexism, non-racialism and peace must inform the content of our curriculum.

At the global level, as part of the UNESCO community, we are especially concerned about those children of primary school age who not in school, the many young people who leave school without a level of literacy and numeracy adequate for productive and active participation in their societies, the persistent gender gap and plight of people living with disabilities.

We pledge our support to efforts such as Education for All (EFA) and the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) that are directed at addressing these gaps.

We are convinced that galvanising the synergies between millenium development goal (MDG) 2, Education For All and the Global Education First Initiative will strengthen the movement for achieving quality education for all beyond 2015.

We recognise that great strides have been made towards the achievement of MDG 2 on universal primary education. However, much more needs to be done in this regard and we support various efforts that are underway to accelerate the achievement of the MDGs before 2015.

South Africa believes that the development agenda beyond 2015 must build on the existing development agenda, and that education must feature prominently in the post-2015 development agenda.

We look forward to the intergovernmental process that will finalise the development agenda beyond 2015 so that the quest for a better world for all our people can become a reality. In this, we all have a collective responsibility, for our current and future generations.

We congratulate you Mr President on your appointment and welcome the recommendation that the Director-General be re-elected. We assure you both of our unconditional support.

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