|SA crafts way forward to prosperity|
Note: Minister Trevor Manuel shows his metal and takes action in a cause all South Africans should follow with interest and engagement.
Diagnostic Overviews: NPC Online Diagnostic
The National Planning Commission has tabled its first public documents, including a detailed ‘diagnostic report’, the main points of which are contained in this publication, setting out the key challenges South Africa confronts in fighting poverty and inequality. The full report can be found at www.npconline.co.za. At the same time the commission has set out the elements of a vision statement for the country. The preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights form the basis of this, and the public is invited to comment on these elements:
1. A democratic state, rooted in the values of the Constitution, working with all sectors of society to improve the quality of life.
2. People are united in diversity, recognising the common interest that binds us as a nation, and we have achieved greater equality for women in all aspects of life.
3. High-quality education and health care, and adequate provision of housing, water, sanitation, energy and transport, give impetus to human development.
4. Natural wealth is harnessed sustainably, in a way that protects our environment, using science and modern technology to ensure a growing economy that benefits all.
5. People who are able to work have access to jobs, workers’ rights are protected and the workforce is skilled.
6. Business is afforded an environment to invest and profit while promoting the common interests of the nation, including decent work.
7. An efficient state protects citizens, provides quality services and infrastructure, and gives leadership to national development.
8. Individuals and communities, at work and at play, embrace mutual respect and human solidarity.
9. Government, business and civil society work to build a better Africa and a better world.
Cape Town – South Africa might be an ailing patient – weighed down by high unemployment and a poor education system – but its problems were in no way terminal, the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Trevor Manuel, said on Thursday.
He was speaking against the backdrop of the release of a document that plots the country’s key long-term challenges.
In a media briefing in Parliament before addressing the National Assembly this afternoon, Manuel said the National Planning Commission’s diagnostic overview would help South Africans to contribute to the drafting of Vision 2030, which is set for release in November.
Manuel likened the diagnostic overview to a doctor attending to a patient who tells them they are sick but that they wouldn’t die.
“It is not pleasing, but at the same time, it is like going to a doctor and he says ‘you are not well, but it’s not terminal’,” he quipped, adding that South Africa could have easily gone the same way as Libya and other countries, but had chosen not to do so.
He said if it was going to be successful, the commission needed to get all South Africans involved in making the country a better place.
“There were things we couldn’t do and we did it. And now we are saying to South Africans – ‘this is what lies before us, let’s turn this country around and come to terms about what confronts us as a nation,” he said.
He said the diagnostic overview recognised the progress South Africa had made since 1994 – such as the broadening household services, increasing participation of black people in tertiary education and transformation of the top 20 percent of income earners – but outlines what still needs to be achieved.
These are grouped under nine challenges: high unemployment, poor educational outcomes, a high disease burden, divided communities, uneven public-service performance, settlement patterns that marginalise the poor, corruption, an overly resource-intensive economy and crumbling infrastructure.
Key among these are unemployment and poor education, said Manuel.
The diagnostic overview points out that persistent unemployment is driven by several factors, including growth in the labour force having outstripped employment creation, a lack of skilled people to serve a modern economy and the fact that nearly 60 percent of unemployed people have never worked.
Other factors related to the country’s unemployment problem is that most jobs have been created in skills-intensive sectors, salary increase have often exceeded growth in productivity and the country’s business environment has often limited the expansion or start-up of small businesses.
In education, the diagnostic reveals that only one percent of black African schools were ranked as top-performing schools, while 88 percent were in dire condition.
This compares to formerly privileged schools in the country, where 31 percent are ranked as top performing, and 49 percent as poor performing schools.
The diagnostic overview singles out the performance of teachers and leadership at schools as the most important factors in improving the quality of education in black African schools.
It reveals that when tested in the self-same subjects they taught to pupils, teachers scored less than the minimum scores expected from the average pupil. For example those teaching maths in grades four to six, scored on average 33 percent.
Manuel said in going forward in finding solutions to the country’s challenges, the commission had held 36 meetings, including 10 plenaries since 11 May 2010 (since its inaugural meeting).
In crafting the diagnostic overview, the 26 commissioners held a week-long online forum with youth, as well as various consultations with political parties, trade unions and experts.
A public comments period will run between now and September to provide for South Africans to take part in the drafting of Vision 2030.
The commission is also expected to release a development plan which outlines how this vision will be achieved, as well as release reports on issues affecting long-term development, such as infrastructure investment, water resources and inequality.
Manuel said the commission hadn’t resolved whether it would be developing a general five-year plan when it came to long-term planning or it would break this up into individual sector reports.
To make public comments or view the National Planning Commission’s diagnostic overview visit www.npconline.co.za - BuaNews