It doesn’t matter whether a cat is white or black, if it catches mice it is a good cat, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has said about the National Development Plan (NDP).
Speaking at a fundraising dinner organised by the SA Students Congress (Sasco) at Vodaworld in Midrand last night, Mantashe said South Africans had a problem in that they want to perfect every concept before implementing it. The best way is to develop a concept, implement it and perfect it as you go along.
“We shouldn’t spend all the time debating if this (NDP) is socialism or capitalism … Significant progress is possible if we plan our lives in detail.”
Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s deputy president and chairperson of the National Planning Commission, also weighed in on the debate about the plan. “The damage that the apartheid system did is quite severe, and it didn’t do it on learners only. It also did it on teachers,” he said.
“The NDP looks at the capacity of teachers, management of schools, encourages parents to take an interest in their children and also raises the level of accountability in all schools. It promotes the expansion of colleges,” he said.
Ramaphosa dismissed the ANC’s decision to close down artisan centres and teacher and nurse-training colleges as “madness”.
“We closed them left, right and centre. But what is good is that we are beginning to reopen them. We need to. Progress has been made and we need to build on that.”
Stressing the need to strengthen further education and training (FET) colleges, Mantashe said: “The reality of the situation is that for every engineer you need 10 artisans. Therefore (you need) a bigger population in universities than you have in the college system – that education system is deformed. And you must accept and appreciate the fact that (the) FET college student population has doubled from about 330 000 in 2010 to over 600 000 now.”
FET colleges, he said, should not be treated as the unwanted cousins of universities.
Mantashe also said the 250% growth in the black middle class over the past decade was not a gift from the gods but was a result of the ANC’s education policies.
The ANC’s education policies, he said, have done well in improving the lot of black people in the country.
“The National Development Plan talks about the access to basic education and systematically improving numeracy and literacy. All reports point (out) that we are systematically improving in that regard. The question of the lack of literacy and numeracy skills in society has been reduced significantly.
“State-resources allocation has been equalised. One of the things the ANC is not talking too much about is that the educational funding of an individual child has improved,” he said, adding that it has equalled the levels of funding reserved for white pupils under apartheid.
No-fee schools and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme have made it possible for more and more black people to access educational opportunities, which were previously not available to them, Mantashe said.
“The increase in the number of university students is reflected in a number of ways. In 2012 the number of (university graduates) doubled the number of students who graduated in 1995. The student population in universities has grown from 300 000 in 1995 to over 900 000 currently.”
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