BRICS Education Ministers meeting

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor is hosting the 6th BRICS Education Minister’s Meeting today at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town. Annually, the country that assumes the BRICS chairship, hosts the BRICS Education Ministers meeting. The meeting was held by China last year, under the theme “Promoting Excellence and Equality”.

Pandor kickstarted the meeting by delivering the welcome speech, addressing all the Ministers and delegates in attendance from across the BRICS countries and thanking the team that was involved in the organizing of the event. In her welcome address, Minister Naledi Pandor asked the delegates the question: “How do we prepare [the youth] for meaningful participation in a world that we did not grow up in?” she asked. She further highlighted why questions of this nature need to be discussed in the meeting today. The welcome note was followed by an opening address by each of the Ministers from the BRICS countries.  Ministers present at the meeting have highlighted that the biggest achievement of the BRICS Education engagement has been the establishment of the BRICS Network University.

Dr. Sarah Mosoetsa from the 2018 BRICS Academic Forum also took to the stage. “While BRICS has come a long way, more needs to be done to move beyond just talk”. The Academic Forum made twenty recommendations that they have arranged under six themes for the consideration of the ministers of the BRICS partnership.

Ministers of the BRICS countries gave their concluding remarks by thanking all those involved in organising the BRICS Ministers Meeting and then sharing their hopes for further cooperation and development within the BRICS initiative.

By Ntsikelelo Kuse

The BRICS Institute has officially launched

The BRICS Institute was launched at Regenesys Business School on the 14th of June 2018. The Institute is set to be a vehicle that will foster economic growth and prosperity amongst the BRICS nations, through education, research, consulting and business matchmaking initiatives. The launch event was attended by the board of the Regenesys Business School, the board of the BRICS Institute, government officials, academics, the media and the public.

Director of the BRICS Institute, Dr. Julian Naidoo said that the Institute speaks the BRICS mandate and will be a gateway for the rest of the BRICS businesses to enter the African Market. The BRICS Institute introduced the BRICS Executive Leadership Development (BELD) programme, which is the first practical executive management initiative aimed at developing world-class leaders and fostering economic growth and shared prosperity between nations.

Dr. Naidoo highlighted that the purpose of the programme is to develop senior leaders from the private sector, state-owned enterprises and the government, in order to stimulate business development among BRICS member countries.

The Department of Trade and Industry showed their support to the BRICS Institute. Director to the office of the Deputy Minister, Mr. Phill Mbanyana has confirmed that “the government is ready to align their work to meet the mandate of the BRICS Institute.”

The event was also a platform to honour Professor Mervyn King SC for his contribution to Corporate Governance. Dr. King received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Regenesys Business School for his commendable and lasting leadership. He is a former Supreme Court of South Africa judge who is recognised internationally as an expert on corporate governance and sustainability. He is best known for chairing the King Committee on Corporate Governance, which issued three comprehensive reports in 1994, 2002 and 2009 endorsing an integrated and inclusive approach to corporate governance in South Africa.


For more information on the BELD Programme, go to


By Ntsikelelo Kuse


Moving from health challenges to collaborations

[In association with BRICS Journal and the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences]

Access to affordable healthcare is a priority for all the BRICS countries. Dr Aquina Thulare looks at how BRICS is faring and how further collaboration would benefit everyone involved.

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Good health is an indispensable prerequisite for poverty reduction, sustained economic growth and socio-economic development.

Placing  health within a globalised, market-based capitalist system results in a dialectical interplay between social classes and the exact nature of whichever social force is best able to set the agenda differs from country to country. These conditions explain why differential exposure and vulnerabilities have an impact on health and wellness and how these have distinctive consequences on populations. These are the “causes of the causes” of common health challenges.

BRICS is home to 42% of the world’s population and contributes 29.5% to global GDP. Notwithstanding the general economic prosperity and improvements in demographic and epidemiological profile since 1990, profound socio-economic inequalities and public health challenges persist within BRICS countries. Over the years, the different BRICS countries have followed diverse evolutionary trajectories in improving the performance of their health systems.

Health has been placed on the BRICS agenda through the social justice, sustainable development and quality of life dimensions as a key area of development and co-operation. Moreover, BRICS ministers of health are mandated to pursue the agenda of ensuring healthy lives and promoting the well-being of populations in their countries by reaffirming public health financing as an essential element for socio-economic development.

They have committed to:

  • Ending epidemics of communicable diseases;
  • Prevention and relevant treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs);
  • Prevention and treatement of substance abuse;
  • Decreasing the number of injuries and deaths from road traffic accidents; and
  • Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and high-quality healthcare systems.

BRICS would also focus on social determinants of health (SDHs) while also introducing UHC strategies that are appropriate for each country’s context. The concept of “health as a human right” and “health in all policies” pervades much of BRICS’ engagement in contributing towards better global health underpinned by several United Nations (UN) frameworks.

Written by: Dr Aquina Thulare
This is an extract of the full article Moving From Health Challenges to Collaborations, found in Issue 3 of BRICS Journal.

Award-winning teacher showcases Chinese educational innovation

Displayed with permission from China Daily

After being named one of the top 10 best teachers in the world by the Global Teacher Prize, Yang Boya, a mental health educator from Yunnan province, has successfully attracted global attention to China’s education innovation. Yang is using her platform to showcase the country’s rising influence on international education trends.

Yang has set up a centre where students – especially left-behind children – can seek professional guidance from psychologists. She is also the first Chinese teacher to earn a spot on the top 10 list of candidates for the Global Teacher Prize. Coordinated by UK-based non-profit Varkey Foundation, the award aims to recognise the most qualified educators in the world. It received 20,000 applications from 179 countries in 2017.

“Being nominated as a top candidate for the prize, I have earned a chance to communicate with my international counterparts, as well as advocate for my Chinese colleagues. I think the international education arena needs more voices from China,” Yang told the People’s Daily Online during an interview.

Innovation to change the conventional education landscape

As China traditionally prioritises knowledge and learning, Chinese families invest a lot in their children’s education. According to BBC statistics, per capita annual disposable income in China rose by 63.3 percent in the five years prior to 2012, yet consumer expenditure on education rose by almost 94 percent in that same period.

“In China, we have an old saying: The study of books outpaces all other pursuits. My parents have spent a lot on my education, hiring tutors and sending me to study groups. Sometimes I feel like I am going to be suffocated by the pressure, but I cannot tell them how I feel as it may disappoint them,” said Chen Lin, a Beijing-based high school student.

“Chinese parents usually have high expectations for their children’s academic performance, while the kids’ psychological health is frequently neglected. Many Chinese teenagers suffer from pressure and confusion, especially left-behind children,” said Yang.

According to a report released in 2015 by Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, over 21 percent of Chinese children aged 10 to 15 feel depressed more than twice a week, while 20 percent have expressed discontent with their lives and 22 percent have expressed a lack of confidence in their futures. Children living in rural areas are plagued by even more mental problems than their peers living in cities.

A paucity of professional help and mental healthcare has led to severe social issues, including suicide and school violence among teenagers. In 2015, four left-behind children in Bijie, Guizhou province committed suicide partly due to the absence of their parents.

The oldest was 13, while the youngest was just 5. What’s more, according to a 2015 Xinhua survey, over 70 percent of respondents said they had witnessed incidents of school violence. In order to tackle these problems, Yang has been conducting research on children’s mental health education, especially the emotional deprivation suffered by left-behind children in rural areas.

“I have made several breakthroughs in promoting mental health education. For instance, I introduced drama, theater and music into my teaching methods, which has helped children to improve their mental health and confidence,” said Yang. Notably, Yang also includes parents in her education philosophy, stressing that parental figures are crucial to improving children’s mental health.

“Chinese parents are willing to put great effort into improving their children’s grades, but many hardly spend any time with their kids. Even if they wanted to communicate with teenagers, their lack of professional knowledge and communication skills makes it hard to construct a successful conversation,” Yang explained.

Thanks to Yang’s innovation, more and more educators and parents in China have realized the importance of children’s inner worlds. Meanwhile, society has begun attaching more importance to teenagers’ mental health and mental health education.

“Recognising that a well-rounded education includes psychological support, Yang has demonstrated through her family counseling project that she thinks beyond the walls of the traditional classroom,” said Keren Wong, co-founder of Bridging Education and Mobility, a Beijing-based educational organization. Wong added that Yang’s achievements have shown the world that China is innovative when it comes to education.

“China’s voice”

“Being a candidate for the award has allowed me to communicate with educators from all over the world, but I still feel pity, as I see hardly any Chinese teachers joining this international event,” said Yang.

According to Yang, the world has shown great interest in China’s education landscape. Chinese students’ excellent academic performance and the respect teachers are shown in Chinese society have intrigued educators around the world. Nevertheless, there has been minimal communication between these educators and their Chinese counterparts.

“Though equipped with rich knowledge and teaching skills, Chinese teachers are not as confident as their foreign counterparts, and are not good at self-promotion,” Yang opined.

Echoing Yang, Wong suggested that more Chinese voices should be heard in the arena of international education.

“By joining more international events like the Global Teacher Prize, [Chinese educators] can demonstrate how the Chinese education system overcomes unique challenges through innovation – for instance, expanding quality education for the country’s very large rural population, as well as gaining a better understanding of how to prepare students to face the world,” said Wong.


Foreign students in India: Education Diplomacy

Written by: Dr. (Prof.) V. Shivkumar

Senator J. William Fulbright outlined his views on International Education thus:

“Our future is not in the stars but in our own minds and hearts. Creative leadership and liberal education, which in fact go together, are the first requirements for a hopeful future for humankind. Fostering leadership, learning, and empathy between culture, was and still remains the purpose of the international scholarship program…….”

Post-independence India continued with pride the ‘scientifically’ tempered Lord Macaulay’s education, thereby completely influencing our thoughts, actions, our culture and art to dance to the tunes of western civilisation. We, thus, proudly marched towards the path of dependent development of the western model. We are now globally accepted!

Western medicine and pharmacopeia was not so widely known in pre-colonial India and before the advent of the European colonisation. Today, our traditional system of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani has become non-scientific alternative or supplementary lines of treatment. The existing dichotomy of Indian Society and Culture is one such example, viz., rural and urban Indian coexisting side by side, exerting the pulls and pressure as we move towards the path of development. Key to the understanding of our cultural heritage should not be limited to propagating just one regional language alone but to have proficiency in Sanskrit, Urdu, Tamil, Telugu and other languages and to continue to unearth our ancient knowledge.

Yoga is not and will not be the panacea for all our problems; we need to supplement yoga with other traditional approaches. As a Vice Chancellor, I hosted Sanskrit certificate course online without charging fees for anyone, whoever was willing to enrol. Similar efforts were made to spread the knowledge of astrology and the Dean of the Ayurveda College wrote books on house-hold remedies for many chronic and acute maladies caused by modern lifestyle. I gave a foreword to one of the volumes!

The stakeholders’ viz., Chancellors  VCs, Principals, teachers, students, bureaucrats and noble politicians are yet to undertake the needed reforms in the right direction which would put emphasis on our indigenous traditional knowledge along with modern approaches. Making yoga or rudimentary Sanskrit education as a compulsory part of our educational system would not suffice. The so-called experts, who form the committees to recommend reforms, feel proud to draw inspirations from Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Stanford and institutions abroad, since many of them including the writer, had been consistently exposed to wisdom of the West! Our contemporary knowledge is, therefore, conditioned by the ideas and knowledge that is influenced by the West.

We seem to be losing our identity without us knowing it; what a pity! What we require is a very judicial revival of traditional knowledge. This would attract foreign students to come to India to learn something new along with their modern education.

International students and their expectations

Many of the foreign students come to India not only to become doctors and engineers, but they come here to seek our indigenous knowledge and culture as well. American and European students as well as students from neighbouring SAARC countries adjust themselves well, so do students coming from the West Indies. Students coming from China, Japan, South Korea and other South East nations, except those coming English-speaking countries find it difficult to cope with our teaching methods; the same is the case with non-English speaking Latin American countries too. Despite these limitations, foreign students’ enrolment has been growing steadily in our Universities. Private and deemed Universities look to foreign students as resource contributors through fees and other contributions. UGC does provide funds to State and Central Universities to cater to the needs of foreign students. Proper maintenance and periodical review are to be streamlined. UGC must fix the fees for foreign students so that they can plan their expenditures before they land in India. Institutions charging different fees for the same course needs to be rationalised. Government of India has also launched programmes such as Study in India and Study India. These are catching up. Government has to do much more if it wants to attract foreign students and scholars from abroad.

[Paraphrased and sourced from New Delhi-based Diplomatist Magazine,