Mashatile calls for investment in education, skills development of learners

Deputy President Paul Mashatile has highlighted the challenges that threaten the country’s skills development agenda and urged government to create a conducive environment for learning and investing in education.

Citing the recent research findings on Grade 4 learners who are said to be unable to read for meaning, the Deputy President said curriculum programmes must be responsive to these areas to ensure children adapt to a new and ever-changing learning environment.

According to the latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report, 81% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning in any of the country’s 11 official languages.

According to the 2016 findings, South Africa was placed last out of the 50 countries participating in the study at fourth-grade level.

The study also revealed no significant progress nationally since the last report in 2011 for the overall average score.

“To effectively educate today’s students, who will work in 10 to 15 years, utilising systems that are operated and constantly growing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, teachers must be educated to utilise the most up-to-date teaching software,” he said on Friday.

The Deputy President was speaking as chair of the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) at uMgungundlovu TVET College’s Plessislaer Campus in Pietermaritzburg.

“For our kids to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be productive members of society, we need to find strategies to keep them in school.

“We must create a conducive environment for learning and invest in education. We must let them know that education does not only open doors for being employed but that it is a personal tool for being a better citizen and human being.”

The HRDC is a multi-stakeholder advisory body chaired by the Deputy President and managed by the Department of Higher Education Science and Innovation.

The mandate is to oversee the implementation of the HRDC strategy, investigate the council’s value chain to identify hindrances that hamper the production of required skills and develop suitable solutions.

He said he was humbled by the council’s level of commitment towards making the work of this body a success, especially in the current turbulent economic times, as the organisation seeks innovative solutions to skills development and the future of work.

“We have our work cut out as this council, as we are meeting three days since Statistics South Africa released the quarter 1 of 2023 results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.”

The official unemployment rate increased by 0.2% compared to results for the fourth quarter of 2022, with the construction sector also seeing a decrease in employment.

He said government’s ongoing response in this regard has been the anchoring of the District Development Model on the implementation of catalytic projects.

“Together with Minister [Blade] Nzimande and the Deputy Chairpersons of the council, we witnessed the development of a new smart city aimed at creating a new economic hub consisting of retail, mixed-typology residential, lifestyle and tourism-based development, new lifestyle estates, high-quality office and business parks and logistics.”

In addition to boosting the construction sector, the initiative is one of the post-apartheid cities that government is building, where people will live and socialise in the same areas that they work in.

The Deputy President announced that he will also sign two social compacts, these include building the foundation and skills for a transformed economy and society.

“The third compact will be finalised and signed in the next council meeting, and it relates to working together to build a capable and developmental state.”

He said he was content that HRDC is at the forefront of fighting the revival of the economy from the skills and human potential aspect.

“As a government, we will continue to work with traditional and Khoi-San leaders, members of the community, civil society, and the commercial sector to build the country’s economy while also developing the skills for ordinary people.

“Our country can strive through the potential and creativity of our people.” –

Source: South African Government News Agency

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