South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has always denied any wrongdoing

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the urgent need for equal access to education during the Education International 10th Africa Regional Conference, which was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa praised the Education International Africa Region for organizing the conference, which was attended by around 400 delegates, observers and guests from across and beyond the region. He also lauded the organizers' commitment to advancing education.

The South African president pointed out that after the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have navigated turbulent waters, noting that the world has dealt with political upheavals and conflicts.

He noted that these "crises further strained our social fabric, affecting the livelihoods of countless individuals and denying many children their fundamental right to education," according to SA News. "In these times of instability, it is even more critical for nations to stand united in pursuit of equal access to education for all."

The president described education as a cornerstone upon which societies build their future and cultivate respect for human rights, the rule of law and the principles of democracy.

He went on to praise the work done by the UN High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession that showcases education systems adaptation in this changing world.

The panel consists of diverse stakeholders including education ministers, labor representatives, teacher unions and civil society organizations and includes Angie Motshekga, South Africa's minister of basic education.

"Educators play a fundamental and irreplaceable role in shaping our societies, and their insights are invaluable in our quest for sustainable solutions. Curriculum reform that responds to the changing world of work is another vital task," Ramaphosa said.

"In South Africa, we are on the brink of a significant educational reform with the implementation of the Coding and Robotics curriculum from Grade R to Grade 9. This initiative is part of our broader strategy to integrate STEAM subjects into our education system," he added.

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.

With this initiative, South Africa aims to equip learners with digital skills that are necessary to thrive in a fast-paced world.

During the event, Ramaphosa also spoke about the importance of tackling racism, decolonizing education and promoting democracy, human rights and trade union rights.

"The project of decolonizing education in Africa is not just a matter of academic interest. It is a pressing need. We must challenge colonial theories and practices to build resilient education systems that are centered on African perspectives and experiences," he explained.

"We know that quality education is not just a matter of access. What is also needed are safe, conducive environments where the rights of all learners are respected and upheld," he said further.