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On 17 May the European Union and the government of South Africa signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation in Education and Training. Although this formal agreement has few practical implications, it sends a strong political signal solidifying and building upon existing cooperation instruments between the two parties. The EU is already South Africa’s main development partner, providing close to 80% of all Overseas Development Assistance and having provided EUR 5 million for South African participation in the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship scheme. South Africa joined the programme only recently, with a first batch of 162 Masters and PhD students in the 2010/11 academic year.
The declaration obliges both signatories to agree on a rolling work programme, which will outline the specifics of the sectoral policy dialogue and guide future cooperation in education and training. The joint declaration opens additional doors for cooperation across all sectors of education, but in the first stage the primary focus will be on higher education and vocational training. The priority areas of common interest include mobility, post-graduate education and research, equity and quality in education, as well as quality assurance, recognition and vocational training. The proposed activities will be regularly monitored by a high level meeting taking place once a year.European Commission Government of South Africa