Education, health, science and technology will be high on the agenda at the upcoming 54th African National Congress (ANC conference), which will be held at Nasrec Expo Centre this week.
Briefing the media on Wednesday, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor in her capacity as an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member, said that: “Since the dawn of democracy science and technology has been put in the centre of development in our country; and schools, colleges and universities have become accessible to all South Africans as a result of two decades of implementation of progressive policies and programmes as advocated by President Nelson Mandela.”
Pandor said that the ANC has made strides in education with more women than men at tertiary level.
“We have noted the positive impact of implementation of ANC policies that has resulted in increased and expanded participation in higher education. There has been a huge expansion in the number of women studying in higher education: women are in a majority,” said Pandor.
However, despite the increased participation, Pandor said the ANC is still aware of the challenges ahead, particularly the high costs of tertiary education.
“We are also saying the conference must direct the government to immediately finalise the model for free higher education for those who are unable to afford the costs of higher education,” said Pandor.
Pandor said whilst the focus is also on basic education, there are still issues of concern.
“The basic education sector is concerned with continued disruptions of schooling during times of unrests, high dropout and repetition rates, particularly in Grades 9 – 12; health-related challenges and their impact of schooling such as TB and HIV & Aids; and procurement challenges related to Learner-teacher support materials (LTSMs), infrastructure and school furniture,” said Pandor.
She said the ruling party was very confident that delegates would apply their minds to policy proposals that emerged out of the ANC National Policy Conference.
These include among other things;
- Increasing support for postgraduate funding for poor students which will increase South Africa’s research capacity in science and technology;
- Accelerating programmes to improve literacy and numeracy in basic education, particularly in formerly disadvantaged communities;
- Finalise the model for free higher education for those who are unable to afford their fees as mentioned above;
- And strengthening measures to improve the quality of care offered by health practitioners in the public and private sector.
Other issues that will be addressed include finding ways to strengthen the capacity and capability of the state as an important factor towards good delivery services.
In conclusion, Pandor said she was positive that all sectors have made good progress in implementing resolutions of the 53rd National Conference.
“We have noted areas of excellence and also areas of concern where sectors have room for improvement and where urgent action needs to be taken. All sectors are on track to achieve most of their goals,” concluded Pandor.