No growth without skills

Week 27 – 6 July 2012


It should be an embarrassment to the state that the Department that runs the revenue system in South Africa is about the only functional department in the whole government in the efficient way that they collect taxes as well as the ease of submitting tax forms. They also excel in tracking down tax evaders.

If they can function like this, why do all the other departments, especially the department of education and local government, drag so far behind? Does this show that the government just wants to lay its hands on the tax payer’s money and after they have done that, they do not really care how it is spent, except for filling their own pockets?

What happened in Limpopo with school text- and story books as well as biographies being destroyed, thrown in rivers and the open veld, should be taken as a very serious matter. This mal-management of public funds and resources should actually lead to the dismissal of al the educational heads as well as the minister of basic education.

The constant lowering of educational standards have already lead to another “lost generation” who is in no position to be educated to the level where they can be of any use to the country in terms of technical and other skills to live a fulfilled life. If the number of engineers in South Africa is compared to other countries, one realizes that South Africa is approaching a stage where everything happening here will grind to a halt. The lack of service provision is already a danger sign to what can be expected in future unless the government make a desperate effort to rule and get the civil services going. This includes the hold that unions have on especially the civil servants and teachers. These people must start doing the jobs which they were appointed and being paid for.

The flashy clothes that they wear and smart cars that they drive should make way for time to do what the communities demand of them, which is supplying proper services.

In South Africa an engineer services 3 000 people. This compared to 227 in Brazil and 543 in Malaysia. Consider that only 12% of matriculants passed maths last year with an average of higher than 40%, this does not include mathematical literacy, which in any case is a waste of time. Out of this pool of 12% the university must pick their future engineers and still stay within the race quota defined by government. Apart from this, youngsters also lack basic living and survival skills, a fact that previously never had an impact. This includes being on time for work and having respect for the company’s resources, the management and their colleagues and customers. This could be because the institutions and companies have to deal with more students and workers from single parent homes where the other spouse is totally absent.

The whole African continent appears to have the same problem as far as professional engineering is concerned and most international partners abuse this fact in order to lay their hands on the riches of the African countries.

The absence in development of skills under these conditions, just add to the problem of unemployment as nobody is trained to acquire technical skills, the main component of eradicating poverty.