Briefing by Department on International Relations; final recommendations on Child Justice Bill

Basic Education

07 April 2003
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS; FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE CHILD JUSTICE BILL

Chairperson: Mr SM Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Directorate of International Relations presentation
Education Co-operation Agreements Matrix

SUMMARY
The Committee was briefed by the International Relations Directorate of the Department of Education. The Committee was impressed with the Directorate's efforts to forge international links on educational matters. Members encouraged the Directorate to expand its links with other African countries and to continue its international educational links with the rest of the world. The Child Justice Bill was unanimously endorsed.

MINUTES
Activities of the Department of Education Directorate: International Relations
Mr Jeppie: Director, International Relations, gave an overview of the functions and activities of the Directorate with reference to educational links between South Africa and other countries. He emphasised three points. Firstly, that the Directorate was committed to genuine educational collaboration with the international community. Secondly, that the Directorate was committed to expanding links with other African countries in line with the African Renaissance. Finally, that the Directorate was committed to exposing the Department of Education policy makers to global developments so that they can be able to formulate domestic policies with an international perspective in mind.

Discussion
Mr S B Ntuli (ANC) observed that there was little collaboration between South Africa and other African countries and urged the Directorate to expand its links with other African countries. He also suggested that the Directorate should collaborate with other African countries in fighting common infectious diseases in Africa. He added that the Directorate should also look into collaborations that would help African people in training to de-mine war torn African countries instead of importing mine sweepers.

Mr Duncan Hindle (Deputy Director-General, General Education and Training) agreed that there was little co-operation with other African countries. However, he explained that even though bilateral collaborations may appear to be scant, there were multilateral collaborations that gave a bigger scope for educational links between South Africa and other African countries.

Mr Ntuli suggested that there should be a common African language to facilitate better communication among African countries in such educational collaborations and links. He suggested Swahili to be the common language.

Mr Hindle explained that introducing foreign languages to South African schools has been under discussion. Some countries were willing to send human capital, at full cost, to teach their languages in South Africa. However, with regard to Swahili, there was no financial backing and it would be at the government's cost to teach Swahili in South Africa.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked how the Directorate was dealing with the proliferation of private offshore universities that creates the problem of commodifying education.

Mr Hindle reminded the Committee that the Minister of Education denounced the idea of commodification of education and that all private tertiary education were subject to government regulation. The Department would continue to reject the commodification of education even at the global level.

Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked whether the Directorate had been engaged in comparative studies to guide their activities and functions.

Mr Jeppie explained that the directorate mainly received such research from UNESCO.

Mr Moonsamy observed that the presentation did not mention anything on HIV/AIDS.

Mr Jeppie explained that the Directorate was involved in cross sharing of information and research on HIV/AIDS prevention.

Professor Ripinga (ANC) commended the Directorate on its comprehensive presentation. He then asked the Directorate's response to the perception that nothing could be learned from African countries.

Mr Hindle said he considered such perceptions as unfounded and untrue.

Prof Ripinga asked whether the Department had any idea of the extent of exchange of scholars within Africa.

Mr Jeppie said there was no accurate information on the movement of African scholars into South Africa. There was a study which showed that it was relatively cheaper to study in South Africa than other overseas countries and South Africa had therefore attracted a number of postgraduate students from other African countries.

Ms Olckers (NNP) asked Mr Jeppie to clarify what he meant by "balancing the domestic agenda and good global citizenship".

Mr Jeppie explained that since South Africa was readmitted into international bodies, it was inundated with proposals for international collaboration, which often made it difficult to fully focus on domestic needs. Therefore a good way to continue with international links was to balance good relations with other countries and still pursue domestic needs.

Ms. Olckers asked if the Cubans were only going to teach science and mathematics and she also wanted to know how long they would be in South Africa.

Mr Hindle explained that they were not coming as teachers, but as tutors to help South African teachers for nine months, after which the programme would be reviewed.

Mr R Ntuli (DP) asked if multilateral agreements could not curb the braindrain from developing countries to developed ones.

Mr Hindle explained that in principle the Department was not opposed to the global movement of labour. However, he added that South Africa has an influx of international human capital and that most South Africans working abroad do return. He concluded that the net gain was not negative for South Africa.

Child Justice Bill
Prof Ripinga (ANC) endorsed the Bill on the grounds of constitutionality, ubuntu principles and the protection of rights for children in South Africa. Mr Ntuli (DP) and Ms Olckers (NNP) seconded him. The Chairperson asked if the were objections and there were none.

The meeting was adjourned.

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