The Executive Secretary of Southern African Development Community (SADC), Her Excellency Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, held a meeting with Ms. IIna Soiri, Education and Science Counsellor of Embassy of Finland based in Pretoria, Republic of South Africa, on Friday, 24th January 2020. The objective of the meeting was to exchange SADC policies on education and science with a view to analysing how SADC can cooperate with Finland.
Her Excellency Dr. Tax welcomed Ms Soiri to the SADC Secretariat, and congratulated her for the appointment to the position of Education and Science Counsellor. She informed her that SADC is in the process of establishing a virtual University of Transforming, therefore, the opportunity to partner with Finnish universities would have come at the right time. Her Excellency Dr. Tax highlighted that the Republic of Finland is well-known for her expertise in science and innovation, hence, SADC Member States, through the envisaged University and the SADC Centres of Excellence would benefit from the expertise from Finland.
Her Excellency Dr. Tax further highlighted that SADC is also looking at capacity building to effectively implement the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, especially in the area of value chains., and research, science and innovation are critical factors.
On her part, Ms Soiri thanked the Executive Secretary for the warm welcome and reiterated Finland's desire to collaborate with SADC. She mentioned that as part of the initiative taken by the Minister of Education of Finland, her country has Education and Science Attachés in seven stations around the world, because of growing importance of science, technology and innovation. She further mentioned that Finland is currently in collaborating with some SADC Member States, namely, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, while discussions with Botswana are underway. She expressed her desire to have all SADC Member States partnering with Finland in education, especially science, technology and innovation.
Ms Soiri extended the 'Education for Employability Programme' to SADC Region, which has the potential of impacting skills and expertise for graduates and, thus, reduce youth unemployment in the SADC region. She also mentioned that Finland would like to have commercial collaboration in education outcomes and education systems, especially in classroom design and digital learning.
The two parties agreed to share the necessary briefs, policies and strategic documents in order to identify areas of collaboration for further discussions at technical level.
The meeting was also attended by Senior Officer – Science, Technology and Innovation, Ms Anneline Morgan, Senior Programme Officer – Education and Skills Development, Dr. Raja Sannassee, and Mr. Maxwell Mkumba, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Executive Secretary.