Better education and service delivery needed for NGP success

South Africa will have to pay more attention to fixing its education system, improvement of civil servants skills and competencies in addition to cultivating a social pact along with a common vision amongst all South Africans if it hopes to succeed with its New Growth Path, say economists.

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel

This comes after the release last month of the proposed framework for the government’s New Growth Path by the Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.

Iraj Abedian, chief economist of Pan-African Capital, says that if the New Growth Path were comprised of one weakness it would be that the government has failed in its duties to focus enough consideration on the way to fix South Africa’s poor education system.

He believes the South Africa’s education system is afflicted with an absence of trained and self-disciplined teachers.

Iraj Abedian, Chief Economist of Pan-African Capital

The only way to is to deal with the current education problems and inadequacies, rather than taking the option of reducing matric standards to improve pass rates, he points out.

Regardless of what some industry professionals have mentioned, Abedian doesn’t necessarily feel that the country’s language policy (11 official languages) must have been a primary answer why pupils continued to fair poorly.

He continued to highlight and  singled out the particular instance of India which had numerous languages and said “99 percent” of school children that also had under no circumstances spoken English before, get to grips with the language in their first year of schooling.

The country first had to close the gap in students inadequate performance in maths and science, or else the New Growth Path’s proposed strategy to create 50 000 additional artisans by 2015 and 30 000 engineers by 2014, would be a “drop in the ocean” for what the country needed, he warns.

Dawie Roodt, economist of the Efficient Group, advocated that there was a ridiculous amount of concentration on pupils obtaining a matric, and that a strategy much like that currently adopted and in operation in Germany ought to be adopted, where immediately after receiving a Grade 10, learners would be able to elect to embark on a trade apprenticeship as an alternative to continue with their schooling.

Cosatu economist Chris Malikane is convinced drafters of the New Growth Path may have elected to focus considerably less on how to fix the education system, as they failed to view it as being an investment priority.

But Neva Makgetla, Deputy Director General for policy within the Department of Economic Development claims there was an inclination by many commentators to fall back on education as the approach to solving unemployment, having said that she indicates that education alone is not a short-term resolution for joblessness. “So you need to focus on other means,” she adds.

Besides this, the document does not focus a great deal on education as it is primarily an economic document.

In its discussion document “Perspectives on an inclusive higher job rich growth path for SA by 2025” published a week ago, Business Unity South Africa (Busa) pointed to five year issues identified by a recent policy forum the association had organised, examples of these are:

  • A “back to basics” focus on education which is “world class” and placement orientated and accessible to all;
  • More appropriate and accessible skills development;
  • A focus on a state which delivers as well as being monitored;
  • Focus on establishing regional infrastructure;
  • Inclusive wage setting which reflects skills and productivity, “with entry wages facilitating access to employment”.

Most economist agree that The New Economic Growth Plan will not work unless a social compact and national vision is crafted in which all South Africans interact with each other.

DA shadow minister for trade and industry Tim Harris, who recently criticised the New Growth Plan in an article published in Business Day, stating that is was rather a “path to poverty”, however, mentioned he thought the call for a social pact between labour, government and business was a much needed intervention.

He points to the example of how a social pact in the 1980s among business and labour in Ireland was triumphant in remodeling the country into a Celtic Tiger for quite a few years.

Tim Harris, DA Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry

Despite the fact that Ireland recently defaulted on its debt, there is certainly a good deal the country could possibly in spite of everything gain knowledge from the European country’s approach 30-odd years ago.

Harris says a social pact at the time had been very helpful to cut corporate taxes in addition to a state-brokered deal had moderate wages and labour regulations, in return for job creation and up-skilling of the labour force.

According to the International Labour Organisation, Ireland had been suffering from an unemployment rate of 17 percent and additionally inflation was on average at 12 percent in the decade right up until 1987. With the lack of job opportunities along with decreasing real wages, emigration ended up being at its greatest level since the 1950s.

The trade unions, employers and the government, began negotiating in 1987 which contributed to the very first social pact, the Programme for National Recovery (PNR).

Azar Jammine, chief economist of Econometrix, has recently also questioned just how the New Growth Path fitted in with the National Planning Commission.

But Makgetla says while the New Growth Path was a short-term plan, the National Planning Commission is going to be tasked with long-term plans.

She affirms the New Growth Path is not a concrete plan, but rather a discussion document which could lead in the future to the tabling of some of the proposal and recommendations mooted in the document’s framework.

Source: BuaNews,,,


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