Intersections between Education and Health for Sustainable Development in South Africa



Moderator: Vanessa Carter
Hashtag to use: #hcsmSA
Tuesday, 04 October 2016
20:30 – 21:30 SAST (14:30 EST, 19:30 BST)
How to participate in a Tweetchat



Please start your answers with T1, T2, T3, T4 or CT for transcript after the moderator has prompted. Analytics are recorded by Symplur and are made available to the public for research purposes here.


T1:From your perspective, what are the connections between education and health and Why?
(e.g. Medical Education, Patient Education, Basic Education, Inclusive Education, Higher Education, CPD, etc.)

T2: What do you think has affected progress in South Africa for health and education?
(e.g. Government Funding, Lack of Corporate and Private investment, Growing population, Immigration, Corruption, Apartheid, Poverty, Accurate Data to review policy etc.)

T3: What solutions do you think could help to address these issues?
(e.g. ICT,  inclusive education, telemedicine, health education in schools, Corporate investment, policy review, citizen-driven programs, connectivity, gender equality etc.)

C.T. What closing thoughts would you like to add to this conversation?




Exploring the multiplex intersections between Education (SDG4) and Health (SDG3) for Sustainable Development.

Education is a broad topic in terms of its relation to healthcare but is critical to explore for Sustainable Development. During this session we gather multiple perspectives, however in future, we will focus on more specific issues modelled on the concerns which are raised by the attendees. In a recent article, the author stated that health outcomes are deeply influenced by a variety of social factors outside of health care. The dramatic differences in morbidity, mortality, and risk factors that researchers have documented within and between countries are patterned after classic social determinants of health, such as education and income, as well as place-based characteristics of the physical and social environment in which people live and the microstructural policies that shape them.

According to the South African Education Department’s Integrated School Health Policy, they have pledged to “put children first” by becoming a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. They have stipulated that health education is a critical component of the ISHP, and provides the best opportunity to impact on the immediate and long-term health behaviour of children and youths.
Health education is incorporated into the school curriculum and provided through the
Life Orientation learning areas.


Video: Courtesy of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Education matters more to health than ever before

Broken Communication between the Education and Health Department Systems
Incorrect diagnosis and broken communication between the medical and education sector can also result in wrong placements at special needs schools which an interconnected ICT system could help to address. An example of this could include medical reports which are accumulated to diagnose the child which need to be passed on to the education sector. Treatment which also takes place in the school environment should be recorded on the patient’s electronic health record (EHR).

Education and Health Policy
According to an OECD article, more and better education could yield savings in health care, law enforcement and unemployment benefits. This makes that the relation between education and health has important implications for public policy. Public policies tend to be highly compartmentalised: education is the domain of the Ministry of Education while health care is looked after by the Ministry of Health. Education and health policies do not have an effect within their own domain, but there are large costs and benefits associated with these policies. This entails that these policies should not be looked upon in isolation, but that rather a more comprehensive or integrated policy approach to education and health is called for.

The Gendered Impact of HIV on Education
Reference URL: The Intersection of HIV and AIDS on the Education System in Sub-Saharan Africa
The global Education for All (EFA) movement led by UNESCO seeks to ensure that people of all ages have basic education by 2015. Education is recognised as an important medium through which individuals and communities acquire knowledge and skills with which to navigate society. Of the different levels of education, primary school is the minimum level prerequisite for an individual to gain from health-related and other information programs.

The UNESCO Education for All research shows that girls who are in the education cycle for at least seven years stand to reap life-long benefits such as delayed marriage and with that a reduction in their risk of contracting HIV. Confronting the Crisis and initiatives like “ The girl effect ” have also brought this message to the mainstream, complementing and spurring efforts by national government and other entities that girls have access to, stay in, and complete primary school at a minimum.

What about Patient Education and Academic Education? Share your views to explore the intersections together.

Nicky Fernandes
Contact Details
Director: Little Gems Special Needs School Gauteng
(B.A.), Education/Psychology/Criminology, Educator – Mitchell House Preparatory School, Director – Thandabantu Academy, Educator –
PEPPS Polokwane, Chairperson – Erudite Projects reg: 174-149NPO

SDG3 and SDG4 intersections
South African Studies focusing on the adequacy of services available to children with special needs or children with disabilities paint a dark image of the current gaps in this field. These gaps are made particularly apparent when one considers the practicalities in the role that health management and education or stimulation centres have to face in providing for the needs of this community.

The role of health care services and education for the special needs community are often intertwined as caregivers need to have a clear understanding of both in order to best provide for these children. The demands placed on them can be overwhelming at times, especially as funding is relatively neglected by both government and the corporate sector. The care we provide to underprivileged children has to be founded on dignity and this relies heavily on access to basic public services like healthcare. Innovation in special needs schools could have an empowering effect, such as telemedicine, mobile applications, connectivity and assistive technology. Especially for our children who are completely immobile.

We need to focus more attention on skills development in terms of educating workers. In a survey conducted with 423 teachers in Limpopo, only 4 teachers could explain Autism, and only 2 educators provided insights into the importance of stimulation programs as well as individualised care. After the correct training, approximately 24 children were referred to specialists as Autistic by educators rather than previously reported as laziness or  “naughtiness”.  A lack of understanding about medication also has a major impact on the quality of care and outcomes.

At Little Gems Special Needs School in Gauteng, we have initiated a CSI Empowerment Program to address many of these access issues using ICT innovation. We require a socially-driven corporate sponsor to help us fund it. More can be read here.



Shakira Choonara
Contact Details
PhD Research Fellow, Centre for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
Ms Choonara is currently pursuing a PhD (Public Health) at the University of the Witwatersrand. She is based at the Centre for Health Policy and involved in the multi-country Resilient and Responsive (RESYST) health system project which aims to improve governance in the health system, her work also extends to financial management and achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in low-and-middle-income settings.

As a qualified demographer, Ms Choonara also has extensive experience in both qualitative and quantitative research including malaria prevention for which she has received numerous research awards. Ms Choonara has vast experience in public speaking, debating and engaging with prominent leaders. Notable achievements include being named Future Leader for Health at the European Union Development Days 2015, an Emerging Voice for Health Systems Research in 2014 and an alumnus of the prestigious Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Programme.

Furthermore, Ms Choonara has served and continues to serve on several committees and professional associations – she is currently the head of communications for Emerging Voices, editor of the Young Leaders for Development Blog and recently elected as chairperson of the Public Health Association (PHASA) Gauteng Branch. While Ms Choonara is committed to improving healthcare, other interests include fighting for the rights of persons with disabilities and advocating for non-racism.

SDG3 and SDG4 intersections
Theoretically, it is argued that even though there are several SDGs and weaknesses are documented around this, the intersectionality between goals are important, hence SDG 3- Good health and well-being will be achieved in relation to other goals such as education, clean water and economic growth, which has long-since been documented as the social determinants of health. In South Africa, the problem is that in practice, there have been some collaborative efforts in government, civil society and our education systems especially around HIV prevention in our Life Orientation (LO) component of the education syllabus. However, translation to practice in curbing teenage pregnancies and adolescent HIV is yet to be achieved.

The National Health Insurance (NHI) White Paper is cognisant of our health system which is curative focused instead of preventive and programmes such as the School Health Programme are a step in the right direction. Although, this twitter chat takes place at a time, when health and all other development priorities are likely to take a back seat given the #FeesMustFall campaign– dire consequences and concerns is that we are now likely to see large amounts of resources being allocated to higher education instead of addressing pressing issues in our basic education system or even to policy reforms such as NHI or its critical components linked to education such as school health.


wernerWerner Swanepoel
Managing Director – Medical Practice Consulting
Medical Education Expert
Werner has five years auditing and risk management experience in addition to completing his SAICA training contract at PricewaterhouseCoopers during 2010, after which he qualified as a Chartered Accountant (SAICA) and Auditor (IRBA). He audited companies in different sectors of the South African economy and enjoyed exposure to a vast array of financial environments, whilst specialising in the healthcare industry with focus on sustainable risk management and internal control design through the implementation of information processing systems.

After completion of his articles, he incorporated Medical Practice Consulting (Pty) Ltd (MPC), a specialist risk management firm in the South African healthcare industry, where he is appointed as Managing Director. Under his leadership Medical Practice Consulting represents the innovation hub of the South African healthcare industry by providing 19, 500 healthcare professionals with access to accredited training content and CPD compliance risk management services. As part of his responsibilities, Werner acts as audit quality reviewer on health information management systems developed by MPC. Werner acts in a quality review role for numerous USAID, PEPFAR, UNESCO and UNFPA technology solutions implemented in Southern Africa.

MPC is a subsidiary of the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) and a group company of the South African Medical Association (SAMA). The FPD group is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) as a Private Higher Education Institution (PHEI) in terms of Section 54(1)(c) of the Act and Regulation 16(4)(a). MPC’s vision is to lead the healthcare industry into a future where the needs of all healthcare professionals are addressed through innovative solutions and ethical professional services.

Werner acted various part-time academic positions at Forbes Lever Baker (FLB), The Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) and Edge Business School, since the incorporation of Medical Practice Consulting where he lectured students from second year to CTA Level 2 in auditing on the UNISA syllabus.

shafikaShafika Isaacs
Contact Details
Shafika Isaacs is an independent Digital Learning for Social Equity Consultant and Visiting Researcher at the Learning Innovation Networking and Knowledge (LINK) Centre at the University of Witwatersrand. Currently, she serves as UNICEF Technical Advisor to the Department of Basic Education. She is a qualified professional coach and is in training to become a yoga teacher. Shafika has worked extensively in the ICT in Education sector in Africa over the past 18 years as well as across the institutional spectrum in civil society, the private sector, the philanthropy sector, government and international development agencies.

Her work has spanned from grassroots implementation, research, monitoring and evaluation, change management, executive and life coaching and high-level policy development on ICT in education. As consultant, she has worked with a range of international and local organisations including UNICEF, UNESCO, The Commonwealth of Learning, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Micheal and Susan Dell Foundation, Intel, CISCO, Microsoft, the World Bank, the Lewis Foundation; GreenMatter and the South African Government Department of Basic Education.

She serves on the governing boards of a number of local and global organisations including as Trustee of the Telkom Foundation and the Lewis Foundation, the Founding Board of GreenMatter; the Advisory Board of the Horizon K-12 Report, and the Online Educa Berlin Steering Committee. She has published widely on the role of digital technologies in enabling access, quality and equity in education in Africa and was formerly the Editor of The eLearning Africa Report. As a Mandela Scholar, she obtained a Master of Science degree in Science and Technology Policy from the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex and an Executive MBA (cum laude) from the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town. In 2002 she was a finalist in the World Technology Network Awards. She is South African by birth, a parent to three children and lives in Johannesburg.

SDG3 and SDG4 intersections
Twenty-two years into our democracy, South Africa has the advantage of a democratic constitution that promotes the right of children to education; well-considered, integrated policies on care and support for learning and teaching of all children; a vibrant civil society; established government structures and a strong private and philanthropy sector.

Our policies promote holistic, inclusive child-centered approaches and the importance of creating requisite support systems at school, family and community levels in ways that integrate health care, psycho-social support, social welfare services and education. Over the past decade, we have had widespread experience with implementing our policies. The Department of Basic Education established a dedicated Care and Support for Learning and Teaching (CSTL) programme in 2008 that prioritises nutritional support, health care, psycho-social support, safety and protection, social welfare services, infrastructure, water and sanitation in addition to curriculum and material support, especially for children in schools that are located in poor areas.

The CSTL programme also outlines the requirements for establishing an enabling environment. The ADEA (2009) publication on Schools as Centres of Care and Support (ADEA case study) showcases South African case studies of how the education, social welfare and health systems intersect in concrete ways at the level of the school. It highlights care and support programmes for orphaned and vulnerable children, in particular, especially those living in rural areas in South Africa in the face of the HIV-Aids pandemic. It reports on how the programme’s approach to inclusion and inclusivism focused on leading and managing multi-sectoral partnerships that encourage active engagement by parents/guardians, school management and governing bodies, teachers, community-based organisations and local government institutions. It emphasises the importance of ensuring healthy nutrition, teacher, parent and community education and creating psycho-social support systems.

Whilst progress has been made with the CSTL programme, the national system remains fraught with continuing systemic challenges that militate against the sustainable and effective implementation of the programme at scale. Moreover, existing programmes on care and support for learning and teaching have not yet exploited the potential that digital technologies can offer to enable greater access, quality and inclusivity, even though some have been tried. For example, the DBE, UNICEF and the Reach Trust developed a mobile learning solution called the Ukufunda Virtual School which enables access to apps that provide psycho-social support. However, this app, whilst very popular among learners, have been under-utilised.

The purpose of this twitter chat is to explore the prospect of fresh ideas and innovation in addressing these urgent challenges. I look forward to a robust conversation.


With special thanks to our experts who will be setting the precedent for many virtual TweetChats in future.