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- Jasper Kotze
South-Africa is a country with a difficult past as it is for any developing country. We have had our wars and internal conflict but one of the biggest mistakes we made is still haunting South-Africa today. We never invested enough in our people and when we did it was only in a small portion of the population. This problem was not so apparent at first because of how rich in high value minerals and agricultural land we had this in turn allowed our economy grow at a great pace. While the mining industry in South-African exports is still very large it is at the lowest point it ever was and will only shrink in times to come. Today our government is struggling with this problem as we have a barley educated population heading into and age of growing globalization where a skilled labor force is critical. Depending how fast we develop and improve as a country will intern influence our global standing as a stable economy that the international market will want to invest in. Priorities of resource allocations are made by government and is closely watched and monitored by the world. This makes election times a critical point in economical time as the decisions we make as the people and the government will determine the effects on the economy.
Education and Unemployment
One of the critical parts of the economy is a skilled work force. Education is the starting point for the development of a laborer or an employed person. It is the foundation of the entire economy and links into every aspect of the economy. If you look at the problems that are caused by an uneducated or largely illiterate nation it is staggering to see how many problems South-Africa is facing is linked to education. Education is linked to employment as a requirement, this intern links to the inverse in uneducated to unemployment and long term unemployment leads to greater levels of poverty and poverty leads to crime. But if there is no job there can be no employment even if you are educated. This is where education promotes entrepreneurship and successful entrepreneurs start businesses that employ more people as they grow. One of the big reasons why education will start to play a bigger and bigger role in South-Africa is because the demand for crude metals is dropping. We are moving to into the age of technology that is becoming more and more refined and sophisticated in size. This requires high quality products that intern requires a high quality labor force and the quality of your labor force is determined by their education. Because of the efficiency effect technology has on business there is a huge increase in company capital investment into technology and fewer and fewer physical labor will be required in the future. For example: The cars that we drive are not welded by skilled workers they are welded by automated robots.
The Solidarity Research institutes (2011) did a study on the labor market and matriculates. This study was a great source to quantify the scale of the education problem in South-Africa. Currently in South-Africa we have a total population of 50.6 million of that 32.5 million is in working age. Of the 32.5 million of working age only 40.9% are employable, this percentage is also called the absorption rate. Currently average absorption stated by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is at 65%. We are lagging far behind our population is too young and far more people are reaching working age that the amount of people at are retiring. Looking at the effect of the recession our absorption rate fell by 5% from 2008 to 2011 this.
The extent of the education problem is also highlighted. Currently of the population older than 19 only 11.2% have tertiary education, 26.2% finished Matric, 37.5% has not finished high school, 18% have not finished primary school and 7% have no education. There has been a steady increase in the levels of education but the big problem is that it is happening too slowly. The biggest reason for this is too many children are dropping out of the education system and eventually adds to the unemployment rate. To show this of the amount of grade 1 students that start only 45.7% make is to matric and of that amount only 29.8% pass the exam. The alarming problem is that government prize themselves with a high matric pass rate but the real figure is much more alarming and a true representation of the situation that our education system finds itself in.
Another issue discussed in this study is the quality of your school system and the alarming requirements set for a student to pass
The picture painted does look grim but what has the Government done and planned in recent years? Looking at some big news for the education industry on Southfrica.info (2014) the government budgeted for the period of 20142015 20% of the budget for the maintenance and development of education, a total sum of R253-billion. The money will to a large extent be used build new schools. 433 new schools are to be developed in the coming 3 years and this will aid children the more than 9 million in the country side. The government has largely improved on the free school initiative. There has been an increase of 20% of schools that are free from the 40% figure of 2007. This had a big increase of the amount of children that can now attend school with a figure of 5 million in 2007 to 8.8 million in 2014. The government has also launched a school nutrition program that feeds all of these children this helps these children stay healthy and acts as an incentive to keep them in the education system. To improve on the quality of education and increase the total of qualified teachers the government started the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme for students who want to teach in the public schools. The scheme has helped produce 3000 graduates so far that are ready for placement in public schools. For tertiary education 21% of the education budget will be spent on National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) (R19 billion) and university subsidies (R21 billion). South-Africa can now be proud of its first university built in democratic times seen on Southfrica.info (2014). This is a huge achievement seeing that the last university that was built Rand Afrikaans University (RAU) , was 46 years ago. One other great initiative from government is the Green Paper for Post-School Education and Training. Explained and summarized Yuven Gounden(2012), the aim of the paper is to help integrate the government development plans and strategies with all tertiary education institutions and address the education backlog. The plan also mentions all the goals and objects set out by the department of education and how government funding will be used to achieve the set goals up to 2030.
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