29 November 2010
Partnerships between the government and the private sector were crucial to improving education in the country, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe told a business breakfast hosted in Johannesburg on Monday by the International Marketing Council of South Africa.
Motlanthe, accompanied by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, her deputy, Enver Surty, and Basic Education director-general Bobby Soobrayan, told the gathering of top businessmen and women that the government was well aware of the flaws in South Africa’s education system, and was implementing a plan to address these.
“[W]e continue to have backlogs in infrastructure and facilities such as classrooms, laboratories, libraries and sporting amenities,” Motlanthe said. There was also still the need to improve the quality of teaching in the country’s schools.
While a new curriculum had been introduced and was constantly being improved on, “many of our learners are still exiting the schooling system under-prepared for the world of work and life challenges”.
‘A milestone occasion’
Strong partnerships were crucial to tackling these challenges, Motlanthe said, and he was therefore encouraged by the private sector’s “overwhelming response” to the call for building partnerships in the education arena.
“Accordingly we see this occasion as a milestone towards cementing this partnership with the private sector that is already investing in our education system, and therefore, our future.”
Motlanthe identified a number of areas that required investment from the government and business, including teacher development; school facilities; school management and governance; adult education; and bursaries and scholarships for promising but needy students.
The Deputy President said that education was one of the government’s top five priorities, along with health, job creation, rural development and fighting corruption.
Education the ‘single critical equaliser’
“As proven elsewhere in the world, education plays a pivotal role in the economic growth and development of a country.”
For a country like South Africa, in particular, overcoming social ills such as poverty and inequality called for a strong education system “that empowers ordinary South Africans to respond with confidence to the imperatives of modern society”.
Motlanthe said he was optimistic that “when we meet again in the near future we will receive some encouraging reports on how we are collectively taking this partnership to the next level.
“One of the lessons we have learned from hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup is that if we set our eyes on a particular target and mobilise society behind it, we can indeed deliver excellent results.”
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