The inaugural sitting of the Learners’ Symposium took place in 2012 in Ulundi Municipality, Zululand District. The second sitting was held in Ilembe District at Mandeni in 2013. The Learners’ Symposium is the result of a request from the Department of Education, asking that learners be given a platform to debate specific issues, and the symposium has since been included in the Legislature’s annual calendar. However, in 2016 the format changed from a Symposium to Learners’ Parliament. This was to be in line with a National Parliament’s mandate that all Legislatures must host Learners’ Parliaments prior to the Parliament hosting its Learners’ Parliament. Each Legislature then sends a delegation of 10 learners to represent the province at the national event.
Some 10 Learners from different schools within a given district are identified to participate in and debate on themes identified by either the Department of Education or Parliament. This sector program is held on a small scale, with a defined list of observers who are parents, educators and members of school governing bodies. The program takes place over two days, with Day 1 assigned to intense training of the learners on the theme for the debate, as well as on parliamentary processes and procedures. On Day 2 learners debate on the theme.