Unpacking SADC’s Protocol on Education as a priority area

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by Dr David Namwandi

In these series of articles I will indicate how SADC places fundamental import once on its education and thereafter explain in detail some of the challenges faced by SADC Member States.

The SADC Treaty was amended with an agreement to establish the 1992 Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.  This plan was based on the strategic priorities of SADC and its Common Agenda.  It was designed to provide strategic direction with respect to SADC projects, programmes, and activities, as enshrined in the 1992 SADC Treaty.  According to the RISDP, top priority was accorded to establish SADC Protocol on Education and Training.  As a result, the latter  became the second protocol to be signed (the first one being a protocol on trade). 

This is significant because the development and expansion of education was second only in priority to trade promotion, expansion, and development.  Interestingly, this is not an isolated event because countries committed to promote and expand trade also made parallel commitments and placed similar emphasis on education and training.

This supports the view that trade promotion, expansion, and development need to be supported by capacity through the provision of qualified human resources.  These initiatives all point to the fact that the leaders of SADC were insightful, and strategically aligned themselves to focus on education and training as a top priority for integration.

Education for All

The RISDP and the concern for the establishment of SADC-PET spurred the Education for All movement, which was launched at the World Conference on Education for All in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990.  Representatives of the international community – 155 countries, including representatives from some 150 organisations –agreed to “universalise primary education and massively reduce illiteracy by the end of the decade” (Meeting Basic Learning Needs, 1990, p. 14).

From this conference, the World Declaration on Education for All was adopted.  It emphasised that education is a fundamental human right, and pushed countries to strengthen their efforts to improve education in order to ensure the basic learning needs for all were met.  The Framework for Action to Meet the Basic Learning Needs established six goals for the year 2000. One of them being:

Goal 1: Universal access to learning and expansion of early childhood care.

Along with these goals, Education for All became a global movement led by UNESCO, and aimed at meeting the learning needs of all children, youth, and adults, by 2015.  Governments, development agencies, civil society, NGOs, and the media, are but some of the partners working toward reaching these goals.  Accordingly, SADC has responded positively to UNESCO’s mandate to implement the consensus taken by UN member-states on the six goals.  The Fast Track Initiative was set up to implement the EFA movement, aiming at accelerating progress towards quality universal primary education.

SADCC – Human Resources: Primary Factor in Development

The theme document for the 1991 consultative conference, SADCC-Human Resources: Primary Factor in Development (SADCC, 1991), eloquently presented the argument for placing human resources development at the centre of social and economic development.  The document set the agenda for determining the future course of action in the development of the human resources sector, and highlighted the sector’s central role in the overall strategy of SADCC when it stated:

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