Planning with a vision: the NDP and education

Chapter 9 of the National Development Plan (NDP) outlines educational objectives that must be achieved by 2030 if South Africa is to succeed as a nation.

The NDP states that if we are to overcome the legacy of apartheid it is essential that everyone has access to education at a high standard, regardless of who they are and where they live.

The NDP’s vision for education and training is to ensure that all children have the benefit of a high-quality education, especially with regards to languages, maths and science – with the ultimate aim of ensuring that 90% of learners pass these subjects with at least 50% by 2030.

In addition, the post-school sector has to meet the education and training needs of individuals over 18. Together with the higher-education sector, the reform of the Basic Education system will play a critical role in producing the skills and knowledge required to drive South Africa’s economic and social development. The NDP recognises that education is the cornerstone upon which a nation that provides opportunities for social mobility, equity, social justice and democracy will depend.

And it’s the reason why the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) was established. The bare facts are that since 1994, we have managed to create almost universal access to education. In itself this has been a near miracle given the state of disrepair that existed under “Bantu education”. One could be forgiven for thinking that non-education of the majority of our people was the active policy. A massive infrastructure build and a concentration on capacity was the key first step. And although many of our schools are in need of repair and improvement, the situation after 20 years is greatly improved.

And yet, the NDP, the Minister of Basic Education, and business concur that we have a way to go before our education output becomes the reason for our national competitive advantage.

The establishment of the NECT is a direct response to the call for an increase in standards by the NDP. It’s a remarkable collaboration by players who in different circumstances would not normally be bedfellows. But in this instance their needs coincide, and whilst they may have their disagreements, they seem to be standing fore-square behind Chapter 9 and the NECT as an important part of the education revolution that is surely needed.

One only has to look at the collection of listed businesses that have helped to fund the NECT, and at the commitment of government to match that funding Rand for Rand. Then to realise that in its first year, despite significant amounts coming in from the private sector, government spent nearly twice its commitment, to realise that the parties are serious about getting this right.

Significantly the Minister of Basic Education is a trustee, as is Sizwe Nxasana, current CEO of First Rand, who is the chairman of the board of trustees. These are but two of an impressive set of South Africans who are clearly dedicated to significant and rapid educational reform. So the call of the NDP for the public and private sector to work together is working from a governance and strategy view point as well.

It’s a good start. After its first year the NECT boasted some impressive action and some equally impressive plans in the first eight districts that it is operational (representing some 18% of the school going population).

May the wind be in their sails.

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