The Peer Group consists of four members from the Zambian Parliament and four members from the Austrian Parliament. Within the framework of the NorthSouth Dialogue of Parliaments, the MPs will deal with the challenges and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) in their respective countries. Exchange at bilateral level is an enriching experience and should help to ensure or promote the national framework conditions for "inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and opportunities for lifelong learning for all".
Members of the Peer Group:
MP P. C. MWACHINGWELE, Chairperson, Committee on Education, Science and Technology
MP G. K. MWAMBA, Committee on Education, Science and Technology
MP J. K. CHANDA, Chairperson Committee on Health, Community Development and Social Services
MP C. K. KALILA, Chairperson Interim Caucus on SDGs
MP Nico MARCHETTI, Member of the Committee of Science and the Committee on Education
MP Eva-Maria HOLZLEITNER, Member of the Committee on Family and Youth Issues and of the Committee of Science
MP Stephanie KRISPER, Vice Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Development Issues
MP Stephanie COX, Member of the Committee on Education
Due to the advancing digitisation it is getting easier to cross national borders. The new communication channels allow contacts across the globe. To me, it is important to use this opportunity consciously and purposefully. Of course, the personal exchange can not be replaced.
The NorthSouthDialogue of Parliaments is such a possibility. I am looking forward to sharing experiences, learning from each other and broadening our horizons. My passion is education policy and in this context also political education. I am looking forward to getting to know Zambia's approach to these topics and their local parliamentary system. To jointly promote the Sustainable Development Goals and to support each other is valuable and meaningful, and I am 100% committed to this task. Because many of the big challenges of our future defy borders and can only be solved in cooperation.
Dialogue is one of the basic tools in politics - not only in the own parliament but also beyond national borders. The Joint Parliamentary Peer Group starts right here and gives us MPs the opportunity to exchange views. As a parliamentary team, we are allowed to work on the implementation of the selected SDGs 4 (quality education for all), SDG 16 (strong, inclusive institutions) and 3.7 (education on sexual and reproductive rights) - goals that are groundbreaking for our social development.
Promoting democracy plays a central role in the NorthSouthDialogue of Parliaments. I am pleased to be a part of it, because as a spokesperson for children and youth matters, it is particularly important to me to be an intermediary - as well as to transport the results and topics. Democracy lives through and with the citizens, which is why young participation is a real concern of mine. Young participation means not only to interest people in politics but also to understand and inspire them - to make joint planning of the future possible.
The exchange, not only at the political level, makes it possible to learn from each other, to look for solutions together and to work out concepts. It is our task to demand economic, social and ecological sustainability in politics and day-to-day work.
As the NEOS spokesperson for foreign affairs and development cooperation I attach particular importance to promoting the idea of partnership in our dealings with neighbour countries within the European Union, but also with other states in the world. Democracy and development issues rarely find a wider audiance outside the Austrian parliament and relevant specialist media.
The NorthSouthDialogue of Parliamenta is a way of engaging in relations with states that may be a few hours away by air, but whose people are nevertheless very important to us. In a world that needs to move closer together and learn to deal with global challenges such as climate change and changing migration dynamics, it is important to have a good working basis with as many states in the world as possible. As a passionate parliamentarian I am therefore very happy to contribute to the NorthSouthDialogue.
Today, each country's governments must consider the question what skills they need to be prepared for the digital age and the global context? Due to technological progress, education will have to change too. Not only will there be a shift in skills acquisition - less specific expertise, more digital and social skills. But through the use of digital technologies, the design of the lessons will change. This offers great opportunities in Austria, but also in developing countries: technological tools can greatly facilitate the transfer of knowledge, network learners and teachers, and knowledge reaches even remote regions.
As a start-up expert and presenter, I traveled a lot on an international level and I am well aware of the enormous innovation potential of exchanging information with people from other countries. My focus in the exchange with Zambian delegates will be on how digital educational tools can be a key driver of development in Austria and Zambia.
The goals and content of the INDABA in the Zambian parliament were defined in two discussions between the JPPG members of the National Assembly of Zambia, representatives of the Parliamentary Reforms Program Department of the NAZ and the project coordinator, Jutta Kepplinger. The title of the event is "Job creation for our Zambian Youth - from challenges to action".
The Committe on Youth, Sports and Child Matters of the Zambian Parliament is currently working on a report on youth unemployment in Zambia. This will be presented in June 2018 and can be used as a reference framework for the INDABA.
During their visits, the four Zambian MPs of the Joint Parliamentary Peer Group (JPPG) were able to gain a comprehensive picture of the political and administrative functioning of the Austrian Parliament as well as of numerous aspects related to SDG 4. The program included a guided tour of the Austrian Parliament, an introduction into the legislative process in Austria, a presentation on the ways of communication between parliament and the Austrian population, and on the democratic education of children and young people. In the context of the last aspect, the seven members of the JPPG participated in the democracy workshop (DemokratieWerkstatt) with a student group from Upper Austria.
The focus of the program, however, was the exchange with numerous organizations and institutions in Vienna, Upper and Lower Austria, which are in any way connected to the implementation of the SDGs in Austria. The main focus was on dual education as well as reproductive and sexual health and education in Austria. The MPs visited, a.o. the Austrian National Association for Family Planning (ÖGF), the Teaching Center for Young People at Work, the NGO "Selbstlaut" (Prevention of Sexualized Violence against Children), the Vocational School Längenfeldgasse, the Salzkammergut Klinikum (Universitätslehrkrankenhaus), the hospital Gmunden, the Energy AG in Gmunden (Water and solar energy), as well as the agricultural vocational and technical school in Gießhübel. The representatives from Zambia were accompanied by the project director as well as an Austrian MP member of the JPPG and they were extremely interested in the different ways that Austria has established to achieve its national (education) goals.
In a joint workshop, concrete goals and communication structures were also developed for the future cooperation of the JPPG.