Education crucial to growing South Africa’s economy

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has called for a heightened emphasis on the national education system, proclaiming that it is essential to establish a competent generation of young adults equipped with the necessary skills determined by the needs and requirements of the economy.

Motlanthe remarked that the government would need to do a significantly deal more to assemble, prepare, or put into operation its resources. He also stated that in order to accomplish these goals the private sector would need to be an active participant.

Highlighting the 2012/13 Global Competitiveness Index which ranked South Africa as the world’s fourth worst in education, Motlanthe remarked that modern day communities prevailed or failed dependant upon the degree to which their education systems acted to development imperatives.

He strongly recommended that the country evaluate the road travelled in the education system and evaluate precisely how the past could be corrected. He discussed how training and developing teachers, selecting the most suitable individuals, and investing in and deploying resources into teaching colleges would generate quality, dedicated teachers were a few of the areas which needs to be investigated.

“Economic productivity is the fruit of long term investment in the national education system. Short of an education system geared to the particular developmental needs of the country, we will be hard put breaking into high-level economic productivity that can extricate us from the inter-generational cycle of poverty. “This reality places enormous responsibility on government and all its social partners to pay particular attention to education, especially at the primary and secondary school levels,” Motlanthe said.

Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib described the university as the most politically vibrant in the country and that he would push for the institution to be at the centre of debates.

Habib said the main education challenges the country is facing today were the lack of teacher skills, teacher discipline and a need to entice the most suitable individuals to the teaching profession.

Motlanthe agreed with Habib’s sentiments, expressing that all universities around the country need to be the main centres of innovation. In addition, he stated that the country’s universities need to improve their cooperation with the government, specifically with regards to research, skills development together with the knowledge base of the country.

Motlanthe explained that the nations universities were ideally positioned to make a contributed effort to the South Africa’s competitive and knowledge-based economy. He explained that the National Development Plan was the generally acceptable “road map” which sets out the parameters within which each and every social partner can easily make a contribution towards the achievement of our shared vision of poverty reduction, stimulating economic growth, effecting economic transformation and creating employment.

However, in order for the country to truly transform, the education system really should be partly predicated on the role of an engaged private sector.

“While government has to lead the way in all respects, we also need the private sector and higher education to help us clear the way to the future in keeping with the edicts of our vision: to create a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, just and prosperous society.”



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