Broken system must be fixed, deputy minister tells PE event
If there is anything South Africa has failed at, it is education, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said at a gala dinner held at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) at the weekend.
“Most of our problems, whether it’s unemployment, unemployability or the struggle of getting our youth into the labour market, are a reflection of one thing, the failure of our education system,” he said.
Jonas was the guest speaker at an event on Saturday night organised by the Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants of SA.
On the failure of education in the country, Jonas said: “Politicians have become poor in terms of ideas.”
He said education should be at the centre of creating a new breed of critical thinkers in the country.
“Education is a fundamental human right, and provides the basis upon which we can develop and transform South Africa.”
He said without quality education, the youth would not fulfil their full potential.
“If young people do not fulfil their potential, the nation will fail. The education and skills pipeline in South Africa is broken and needs to be fixed,” he said.
Jonas said the government had significantly expanded the budget for education in the past 20 years.
“Basic education is the largest item in the national budget. But the education system is not achieving the desired outcomes.
“We also need to focus more on improving the pace of the transition from school to work.
“One of the reasons why Germany has had relative success in youth employment is because of its training system, which prepares the youth for the labour market and entrepreneurial activities through experiential on-the-job training.”
Touching on #FeesMustFall, Jonas said the movement had been useful in bringing to light the weaknesses in the education system in terms of funding models.
“It’s opened up discussions in communities about the allocation of resources and asking ourselves if we are making the right investments,” Jonas said.
Associate economics professor Ronney Ncwadi agreed with most of the points made by Jonas.
“Over 50% of the fiscus goes to education. But does this investment we make yield the desired quality? The findings show that it does not,” he said.
Northern Areas Education Forum secretary Richard Draai agreed that the government had failed in terms of education.