South Africa Profile
Schools for Africa
UNICEF has worked in South Africa since the advent of democracy in 1994. Over the past two plus decades, UNICEF has built strong partnerships with the government and solidified UNICEF’s reputation as the leading advocate for children’s rights. In addition to facilitating some of the country’s most pivotal public health policies (relating to HIV and AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and tuberculosis), UNICEF plays a key role in creating and implementing some of the most important education strategies, reforms and programmes. In 2007–2008, public expenditure analysis was pivotal in informing South Africa’s education sector plan, which fed education priorities into the National Development Plan, Vision 2030.
In 2015, for example, UNICEF co-produced the ‘National Integrated Early Childhood Development Policy’ in partnership with the government. This comprehensive document helps transform early childhood development service delivery in South Africa by closing critical gaps and ensuring that services are comprehensive, universally available and equitable. UNICEF also provided technical support, research and policy guidance to the National Department of Basic Education (DBE), which resulted in a groundbreaking HIV and TB policy. Released in 2017, the policy provides condoms and a basket of sexual and reproductive health services to learners on school premises. This is a first for both the country and the region and will significantly reduce levels of HIV, STIs and unplanned pregnancy amongst young people.
Evidence-based research shows that health and social barriers significantly impede and disrupt education. In response, UNICEF supported the creation of the ‘Care and Support for Teaching and Learning’ programme. Currently being tested in nearly 400 schools, the programme promotes a 10-priority holistic education model as critical to improving academic success. The 10 priorities range from nutrition to safety to protection to curriculum support.