Daily Archives: April 21, 2017

SA-China exchange programme cements cultural ties

Pretoria – South Africa will host the inaugural session of the South Africa-China High Level People-to-People Exchange Mechanism (PPEM).

The session, which starts on Monday, 24 April, will be co-chaired by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Chinese Vice Premier Madame Liu Yandong.

In a statement on Thursday, Minister Mthethwa said the PPEM will turn a new leaf and chapter in of the relations between the two countries.

The PPEM serves to enhance mutual trust, friendship and strategic partnership and to further deepen cooperation between the two countries, especially in the areas of culture, education, communications, health, technology, sports, tourism, women advancement and youth.

Our objective is to create spaces and opportunities to contribute to the knowledge and common understanding between South Africa and China through enhancing contact.

This exchange is aimed at providing a forum for exchanging information and identifying common objectives and strategies in the broad field of people-to-people exchange. This mechanism serves further to identify opportunities for cooperation based on mutual interest and benefit, Minister Mthethwa said.

On a practical level, Minister Mthethwa said they will create opportunities for people in both countries to benefit from the sharing of social, cultural and economic capital across government, academia, business and civil society.

The establishment of the PPEM forms part of the implementation of the recommendations made after the December 2015 State visit, which saw the signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership by President Xi Jinping and President Jacob Zuma.

The PPEM is set to involve other departments such as International Relations and Corporation, Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, Science and Technology, Health, Communications, Sports and Recreation, Tourism, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women and the Deputy Minister in the Presidency (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation).

The PPEM will commence with an inaugural meeting at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s OR Tambo Building.

At this meeting, there will be presentations of progress reports by both countries on the selected thematic areas.

According to Minister Mthethwa, a range of cooperation agreements will be signed across a number of areas falling within the two broad themes driving this mechanism � the pursuit of Human Capital Development objectives and projects, as well as Research and Development opportunities.

There will also be increased focus on and investment in research, development and innovation have become a cornerstone of major emerging economies.

Exchange week events

On Monday, there will be the China-Africa Health Ministers Conference, wherein 30 Ministers from the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Member States will participate and look at ways to improve the livelihoods of the peoples of Africa.

South Africa will be represented by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, while Minister Li will represent China.

Later on the day, Vice Premier Liu and Minister Li will conduct a special visit to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital to donate medical equipment, which have all been sourced from South Africa.

The exchange programme will also see the launch of the South Africa-China Science Park Cooperation, which will take place at the CSIR International Convention Centre.

These Science and Technology Parks and other initiatives, including technology incubators, will help stimulate and support innovation for socio-economic development.

On Tuesday, there will be a high level seminar on Thought Exchanges and Dialogue in Pretoria, followed by a visit to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and a joint cultural evening at the State Theatre.

The Second Africa�China Youth Festival will take place on Wednesday, 26 April in Pretoria, where dialogues are planned amongst youth entrepreneurs, youth diplomats and youth academics.

South Africa and China share a common developmental agenda based on the principle of internationalism and enjoy strong diplomatic and trade relations.

China is South Africa’s biggest trading partner and also the second biggest economy in the world.

The two countries share membership of and participate as partners in numerous international bodies, including BRICS, the Group of 77 + China, G20 and are co-chairs of FOCAC.

South Africa’s bilateral relations with China are guided broadly through mechanisms such as the Beijing Declaration establishing the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the Bi-National Commission, Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on Cooperation (JWG), Strategic Dialogue Mechanism, and the 5-10 Year Strategic Framework on Cooperation signed in 2014.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Spread of literacy among women highlighted in UNESCO anniversary global review

The increase in reading and writing proficiency among women is a result of the significant up tic in their enrolment and completion of primary education over the last five decades, even as overall funding for adult literacy has remained low, a recently-launched study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has found.

The publication, Reading the past, writing the future: Fifty years of promoting literacy, marks the uplifting and sobering fiftieth anniversary of UNESCO’s efforts to mark global progress on literacy, celebrated annually on 8 September as International Literacy Day. The authors of the current report examine the nature and evolution of the educational challenge, and take stock of literacy initiatives worldwide.

The spread of literacy among women has been a key feature of the past fifty years. However, the gap between male and female literacy rates only started narrowing from 1990 onwards. UNESCO projects that it is likely to keep unfolding over the period of 2015-30 and beyond.

While various positive trends are highlighted, Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, in the publication’s foreword, calls for renewed and strengthened commitment to support literacy promotion for all, including the 758 million youth and adults currently excluded from the networks of written communication.

The authors note that around 1950, just over half of all the world’s people were reported as being literate. Since then, they state, the adult literacy rate has increased by five percentage points every decade on average, to 86 per cent in 2015.

One of the report’s main findings is that there are now more illiterate adults compared with 50 years ago, meaning that literacy efforts have not kept pace with population growth, a trend Mr. Tang finds troubling.

Resources to educate adults

The UN’s educational agency identifies sufficient resources for education as one of the bottlenecks for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 4, on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, including for the large and growing group of illiterate adults. The authors find that funding for adult education and literacy has rarely been adequate.

UNESCO claims that lack of funding is one of the reasons why progress continues to be slow in certain regions and countries. Among the surveyed countries, only four devote 3 per cent or more of their educational budget to adult education.

Total aid to education by the members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is about 1.4 per cent of their total aid budget, according to the UNESCO report, with only a few OECD-members devoting more than 3 per cent of their individual funding to education.

Regional disparities

Progress has been far from uniform across countries and regions. UNESCO defines the spread of literacy among young people � especially young women � as a decisive trend for Western Asia and Northern Africa regions, with regional youth literacy rates reaching almost 95 per cent in 2015.

UNESCO argues that the spread of literacy has contributed to the demand for political freedom and socio-economic development expressed by young people in these regions. It also points out that their reading and writing proficiency will be crucial for democratization and stabilization in both regions.

Eastern Asia and South-East Asia have almost universalized literacy thanks to steady progress since the 1960s. Most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have also reached high adult literacy and almost universal youth literacy in recent decades.

For decades large-scale adult illiteracy will persist in Southern Asia, UNESCO projects. The number of illiterate adults has merely stabilized, but the region still counts 43.9 million illiterate young people. Progress made in the last 25 years has been hampered by extreme poverty and conflict.

Other regions, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania face specific difficulties. UNESCO warns that both regions cannot be expected to reach universal youth literacy rates by 2030 if current trends continue. It claims that sub-Saharan Africa � accounting for almost half of the world’s illiterate people � is the only region in which the number of illiterate young people kept increasing.

The report is based on data from UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) and information from UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning (UIL). The publication analyses trends and impacts of literacy programmes on 50 countries around the world.

Source: UN News Centre

Foreign Minister N. Kotzias meets with the Foreign Minister of Cuba, B. Rodriguez (Foreign Ministry, 21 April 2017)

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias had a bilateral meeting, at 12:00 today, with his Cuban counterpart, Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla, with whom he discussed current issues of bilateral and international interest.More specifically, the two Ministers loo…

South Africa hosts 2017 China-Africa Health Ministers Conference

The Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and his counterpart Minister Li Bin from the People’s Republic of China will on Monday, co-chair the China-Africa Health Ministers conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria.The conference is convened as par…