File photo: INLSA
BRICS Ministers of Education yesterday signed a declaration to address 21st century challenges and opportunities regarding the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Hosted by the Department of Higher Education and Training, the theme for this year’s meeting was, “Deepening BRICS Education Partnerships and Exchanges”, which also reflected on the successes and challenges related to earlier education commitments made by the BRICS countries.

At yesterday’s meeting, it was agreed that access to education and training in BRICS states was expanding, and that countries face common challenges in promoting educational equity.

The states made a commitment to strengthen collaboration in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) through, among others, sharing information and frameworks about development.

The declaration also seeks to support the co-ordinating process for the BRICS Network University, as well as reaffirm the commitment to the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” that was set within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The declaration was adopted unanimously, according to South Africa's Minister of Higher Education and Training Naledi Pandor.

“It is an action-oriented goal, and we have taken, adopted, and agreed to individual areas of responsibility for implementing aspects.

"Our declaration is about sharing best practices, and thereby strengthening the education systems of our respective countries.

"I'm sure we will, as ministers of education, ensure that our senior officials will be held accountable for taking forward what we have agreed to in this meeting,” Pandor pointed out.

The meeting takes place annually in line with the BRICS rotational chair-ship. Last year’s meeting was hosted by China.

Since its inception in 2013, ministers have agreed on broad themes of education collaboration, including university linkages, and higher education mobility.

The Deputy Minister of Education in the People’s Republic of China, Zhu Zhiwen, said the declaration laid the foundation for sustainable development in education.

“It is encouraging to know what we can achieve through the higher education and training sector,” Zhu said.

India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development (Higher Education), Satya Pal Singh, said education could drive holistic development.

This was especially the case when promoting digitalisation to improve education and training.

Singh said within a few years many of the jobs currently offered will either be redundant or have different qualification requirements, which meant that BRICS countries needed to embrace technology without delay.

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