22 October 2013
South Africa has launched a National School of Government to provide “hands-on and brains-on” training as the country moves to establish a modern, professional, performance-oriented public service.
Speaking at the launch of the school in Pretoria on Monday, Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said there were no short cuts to delivering operational excellence.
The establishment of the new School of Government follows a nine-month process of comprehensive research and international benchmarking carried out by a task team of scholars, education practitioners and academics with experience in managing higher education entities.
The government had tried providing public service training through various kinds of institution, but had “come to the realisation that establishing functioning state machinery, the creation of a public service ethos and the creation of a cadre of government, is a responsibility that cannot and should not be outsourced,” Sisulu said.
The new School of Government replaces the current training institution for public servants, the Public Administration and Leadership Management Academy, locating public service education and training provision within the state.
“What we have today, I am convinced, will stand the test of time, because we have learned from our past mistakes, learned from international best practice, seen ourselves through the mirror through the diagnosis produced by the National Planning Commission.”
Sisulu said the School of Government had to respond to the “urgency of now” in righting the wrongs that have so far hobbled the public service.
“Curricula and programmes will be designed on the basis of a sound understanding of the challenges and realities of the public service environment. It is about unleashing the best in our students to enable reform and performance oriented public service.”
The minister described this as a shift from the current model, that focuses largely on building the generic knowledge and skills of individuals.
“The National School of Government and its hands-on and brains-on approach will enable us to apply common norms and standards in the public service … In doing so, the School will help to address the unevenness and the poor quality that characterise most of the learning and development offerings in the public service.”
The School of Government will be strengthened by a multidisciplinary team of lecturers, facilitators, trainers and organisational development experts, and governed by a council that is accountable to the public service minister.
Sisulu said a principal would be appointed who, supported by a number of deputy principals and a registrar, would deliver on the overall functions and responsibilities of the National School of Government.
“Our new academic approach to professionalising and making the public service efficient and effective ought to set the new public administration management frontiers to the year 2030,” she said.