Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development. UNESCO believes that education is a human right for all throughout life and that access must be matched by quality. The vision of ROSA’s Education Unit is to have quality and equitable education realised in Southern Africa. While the region has relatively high levels of educational attainment, one cannot overlook the massive inequalities within and among countries.

ROSA’s priority areas in the area of education are:

  1. Teachers: Improving the quality of teachers is critical. The quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. UNESCO ROSA works on equipping teachers to handle the emerging challenges of diversity, first generation learners and multilingual contexts in the classroom, juxtaposed with new curricular demands. The Office supports development of a comprehensive teacher policies, teacher standards and competence frameworks and establishment of professional teacher councils both national and regional levels. 
  2. Literacy - UNESCO ROSA supports programmes and activities to develop quality literacy materials for literacy educators and learners through integrating mother language in literacy teaching and learning. 
  3. Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) - Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 acknowledges the importance of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) under targets: 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5. TVET also contributes to other SDGs such as SDG3 (health workforce), SDG8 (inclusive growth and decent work), SDG9 (infrastructure) and SDG13 (climate). UNESCO ROSA supports countries in the region to enhance the relevance of their TVET systems, equip young people with the skills required for employment, decent work, entrepreneurship and lifelong learning as well as policy reviews/development.
  4. Higher education - UNESCO ROSA works to promote higher education reforms that would increase access and equity to higher education. The Office pursues capacity building in quality assurance, particularly in light of cross border provision and also supports the identification of initiatives that promote effective use of ICT in post-secondary teaching, learning and research. It encourages Southern African countries to ratify and implement Conventions on higher education such as the Revised Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States. 
  5. Education for Sustainable Development - Target 4.7 of SDG 4 on education addresses ESD and related approaches such as Global Citizenship Education. UNESCO coordinates the implementation of the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD and closely works with key partners to generate and scale-up ESD action. UNESCO aims to improve access to quality education on sustainable development at all levels and in all social contexts, to transform society by reorienting education and help people develop knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed for sustainable development. The Office is currently implementing a capacity building programme for teacher educators on Education for Sustainable Development in Southern Africa dubbed Sustainability Starts with Teachers.
  6. Health and well-being education - UNESCO ROSA works to strengthen the links between education and health, reflecting growing international recognition that a more comprehensive approach to school health and coordinated action across sectors is needed. The Office supports the delivery of good quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) that empowers adolescents and young people, and builds agency while developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes and competencies required for preventing HIV, reducing early and unintended pregnancies and eliminating gender based violence. Upstream, UNESCO ROSA supports governments to put in place national policy and frameworks that provide an enabling environment for the implementation of CSE.


Cultural resources are a thriving category contributing to sustainable development in the nine countries covered by the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) and our national offices in Maputo and Windhoek.

Through the Culture programme, UNESCO ROSA seeks to promote cultural diversity by fostering and facilitating the safeguarding of Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage. In addition, the Culture programme advocates for the recognition of the role of Culture in development at global, regional and national levels.

Social and Human Sciences

The Social and Human Sciences (SHS) unit prioritises programmes that target youth engagement, the development of inclusive and sustainable cities, overseeing of ethics for science, and the Management of Social Transformations (MOST). 

The goals of the Unit are to elaborate solutions for inclusion of all, at the national and local levels, based on informed and inclusive policies; promote youth engagement as partners for development and culture of peace; and strengthen Member States’ response to social transformations, ethical matters and regional integration.

Communication and Information

UNESCO ROSA’s Communication and Information Sector strives to foster freedom of expression, media development, and access to information and knowledge in line with UNESCO’s mandate to “promote the free flow of ideas by word and image”. The Sector directly contributes to Sustainable Development Goals 4, 5, 8, 9, 10,11,13,16 and 17

    UNESCO ROSA advances freedom of expression and the safety of journalists online and off-line and combats online hate speech, as well as disinformation and misinformation through:

    The other objective is to contribute to “building knowledge societies” through universal access to information and knowledge. Interventions that address building knowledge societies in Southern Africa mostly fall under the Information for All Programme (IFAP), and these include:

    • The establishment and strengthening of national IFAP committees;
    • The strengthening of universal access to information;
    • The promotion of information ethics, particularly the teaching of information ethics in education institutions;
    • The implementation of the “Youth Mobile” initiative.

    Community Radios Database

    Recognising the important role, which community radios play to disseminate information at grassroots level and provide a platform for effective communication for development, UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (UNESCO ROSA) is supporting the development of this community radios database for Eastern and Southern Africa

    The database aims to provide comprehensive data of all current and existing community radios in the two regions. The database will support networking and sharing of best practices among community radio professionals in these two regions and beyond the two regions. 

     Achievement of Agenda 2030 requires equal and universal access to information for underserved and underrepresented groups. As the closest media to these groups, community radio brings opportunities to overcome inequalities and reach out to marginalized populations, which will contribute to achieving the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

    Community radio therefore, plays an essential role in facilitating the right of access to information, including during disasters and emergencies. When other types of media fail to inform citizens in a time of crisis, community radio can transfer life-saving messages. It also provides opportunities for everyone to express themselves and participate in decision-making processes, which ensures no one is left behind.