South Africa must monitor development goals more effectively – Trevor Manuel

SA must monitor development goals more effectively

Tuesday, 06 September 2011

Simply adopting a tick-box approach to tackling development will not solve
South Africa’s many problems, chief among them the state of its education
system, the Minister of National Planning Trevor Manuel said yesterday.

Addressing Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Provincial Legislatures
(MPLs) at the start of a two-day consultative seminar in Parliament on the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Manuel urged them to get more deeply
involved in their respective constituencies and monitor government’s work more

The MDGs were signed by 189 countries in 2000 and contain a pledge to meet 21
targets in human development by 2015.

Manuel cautioned against officials who simply “ticked boxes”, as this would
lead to superficial development. He singled out MDG goal two – access to primary
education – which the country was doing very well at.

He said though 99.7% of South African children were in school, this said
nothing about the quality of teaching, whether teachers were in class teaching
or how many days they were in class teaching. “We’ve ticked the MDG goal two but
the outcomes in education are abysmal,” he said.

He said of the 1.4 million pupils that started school in 1999, 600,000 had
sat for matric last year, of which 67.8% passed, yet only 15% of those that
passed obtained matric marks higher than 40%. “But if you pass like that, there
is very little you can do in society,” said Manuel.

He pointed out that South Africa ranked 137 out of 150 countries in maths and
science, and that although it spent 6% of its GDP, it was one of the bottom 25
performers on the African continent in education. “We must understand the
hardship that we are imposing on the poor, because this is apartheid still in
existence,” he said.

Manuel said there were 18 schools last year where no pupils passed. He then
asked those members who knew they had schools in their constituencies that had a
zero pass rate to raise their hands – only two members did so. “So there are
still 16 schools that we don’t know about. How does this happen? Because if we
don’t know what is happening amongst the people we service, how are we, members
that represent them, to help?”

He said the education system was to blame for most ills in South Africa –
from unemployment, to crime, corruption and the state of the health care system.
“The reason so few South Africans work is because people leave school without
elementary skills. The reasons we have such problems with healthcare is that the
education system appears not to equip people to deal with choices about their
conduct, whether this be their alcohol consumption or their sexual conduct,” he

“The reason people are so tolerant of corruption in this country is that the
education system does not empower people to rise up and say ‘what is happening
is wrong’. So if we want transformation then, education is going to have to be
fundamental. Perhaps the most abused word in South Africa is empowerment, but
education is the genesis of empowerment. Unless you deal with this issue, the
other issues are not going to fall into place,” he said.

SA – the Good News via BuaNews


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