Meeting with Swedish Parliamentary Committee

Basic Education

03 November 2004
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Meeting report


3 November 2004

: Professor S Mayatula (ANC)

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The Committee and the Swedish Parliamentary delegation discussed and exchanged ideas on education in South Africa and Sweden. They agreed that there were much room for interaction and greater co-operation between the two countries now and in the future.

The Swedish Parliamentarian delegation was welcomed. In his comments to the Committee, Mr Bjorkman, chairperson of the delegation, stated that there were seven parties represented in Swedish Parliament and six were represented in this delegation. He also stated that Sweden had a special interest in South Africa and that the delegation was in South Africa to join the debate on democracy and contribute to the transformation process.

Mr B Mthembu, speaking on behalf of the Education Portfolio Committee, stated that South Africa was grateful to Sweden for its help during and since the struggle against Apartheid right up to the present transformation process. He specifically thanked Sweden for its support in the education transformation process.

He noted that much progress had been made in the education system in the country with most of the children now in schools, but more needed to be done to meet all the challenges. He spoke of South Africa's dual economy which needed to be integrated and need for skills development. Poverty and crime posed major challenges as the country struggled to ensure that the first economy was sustained while developing the second economy. He concluded that there were many children in schools but a very limited percentage, less than 5%, were being educated was in Science and Technology. There was also the challenge of reaching the rural areas.

Mr L Greyling (ID) stated that there were three challenges that needed to be addressed in education. The first challenge was increasing access to education at primary and secondary levels. Despite great progress in this area over the last year, there were over 300 000 children that still needed access to education. It was the constitutional rights of these children to gain access to school. The second challenge was quality of education. The last challenge was to line up educational needs with the economy.

Mr I Mfundisi (UCDP) commented on the importance of the assistance from Sweden in educating children in South Africa. He mentioned that it was necessary to target children while they were very young. The exchange of teachers between Sweden and South Africa was very important. Teachers from Sweden should visit urban and rural schools so as to get first-hand experience of what the situation was like in these areas.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) asked about the Swedish delegation's view on outcomes-based education. It was argued that as it had been successfully implemented in Western countries , it was better for children here, but the system seemed to retard children.

Ms I Davidson (Christian Democrat) of the Swedish delegation had a favourable opinion of outcome based education. She noted that she interested to know how much of South African GDP went towards education.

The Chairperson stated that the Constitution was the basic document that drove the government on education. Section 9 of the Constitution spoke of the right to free basic education. Miracles had been performed to tackle the problems of education during the short period of democracy in this country.

Ms I Lundberg (Social Democrat) asked about the mechanisms in place to help children get into schools. She also asked how did the government manage to get orphans into schools.

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) responded that Non Governmental Organisations and community centres with the use of government funding took care of orphan children and ensured they went to school. The government also had a foster care programme that helped with orphans.

Ms A Narti (FP) stated that though Sweden had been of great help to South Africa, Sweden also wanted to learn from South Africa. The country had experienced much development and Sweden was wished to learn from its democratic experiences as well.

Ms I Davidson was concerned about the issue of teachers and students contracting HIV/AIDS. She wanted to know how the Committee dealing with this situation.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) stated that the old Apartheid system had not helped Black teachers in any way. It was a challenge to gain qualified teachers given that they did not receive enough training in the past. The protocols signed by South Africa and Sweden could help bring about the improvement of the HIV/AIDS situation in South Africa and greater Africa.

The meeting was adjourned.


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