17 June 2014
The South African government will continue to invest in education and skills development as key conditions for economic growth, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.
Delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament in Cape Town, Zuma said the country needed “engineers, electricians, plumbers, doctors, teachers and many other professionals to build our country’s economy.
“Education therefore remains an apex priority for this government. We will continue to promote universal access to education by ensuring that all children between ages 7 and 15 are in school. We will increase the number of Grade 12 learners who can gain entrance to university, moving from 172 000 in 2013 to 250 000 in 2019.”
At the same time, he said, the government would continue to fight drugs and substance abuse in schools and communities. “We will also prioritise safety in schools, scholar transport and child health.”
Eradicating ‘mud schools’
Zuma said the government would also push ahead with the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, a national programme to tackle school infrastructure backlogs in the country.
The R8.2-billion public-private programme, one of the government’s Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs), aims to eradicate the 496 “mud schools” in the country, and provide water and sanitation to 1 257 schools and electricity to 878 schools, by March 2016.
“We opened at least one new school a week in the Eastern Cape last year and will continue to eradicate mud schools and other inappropriate structures,” the President said.
He also announced that contractors would be moving on site in September to build South Africa’s two new universities, Sol Plaatie in the Northern Cape and the University of Mpumalanga in Nelspruit.
“By January next year, the first intake of medical students will be enrolled at the new medical university in Limpopo,” he added. “In addition, 12 training and vocational education colleges will be built to expand the technical skills mix in the country.”