“We are continuing with the campaign to improve the delivery of basic education. There are some areas of education which we want to focus on more. A key example is sports development, especially given the legacy of the Soccer World Cup. We want each school to offer at least two or more sporting codes,” he said. Zuma said government was working to eradicate the division between rural and urban schools.
The Departments of Basic Education, Rural Development and Land Reform, Public Works, Water Affairs, and Transport are working together to improve conditions at rural schools. Inroads were also being made with regard to higher education with more than 17 000 artisans registered by Sectoral Education and Training Authorities last year alone.
Zuma said more than 100 000 workers completed training in scarce and critical skills through learnerships, apprenticeships and other learning programmes.
He said government has also been working to strengthen local government and that a review of legislation impacting on local government as part of revitalising it was underway.
In December 2009, Cabinet approved the local government turnaround strategy, a roadmap for municipalities.
Every municipality in the country must now develop its own specific turnaround strategies and implementation plans, Zuma said.
The Local Government Training Academy will be revived to ensure new councilors, who come in after the 2011 local government elections, are better prepared to discharge their responsibilities effectively. The academy will also assist in re-training municipal employees.
Zuma mentioned that government has established the Department of Traditional Affairs as a bid to “harmonise” working relations between traditional authorities and local government structures.
“In this regard, we have directed the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to arrange a Summit between traditional leaders and municipal structures,” he said.
Turning his focus on health, Zuma singled out disease prevention and treatment programmes as among the achievements in his government’s efforts to improve the country’s health system.
The Department of Health recently embarked on a national measles and polio vaccination campaign. The intention is to immunise 15 million children between the ages of six months and fifteen years against measles and to vaccinate five million children under five years of age against polio.
Zuma said government has also developed clear strategies in each province to strengthen the country’s anti-tuberculosis programme.
“We also began implementation of the new HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention guidelines last month. This includes, among other things, the provision of anti-retroviral treatment to pregnant women with a CD4 count of 350 or less, and to people co-infected with TB and HIV at a CD4 count of 350 or less.”
HIV positive pregnant women are now receiving dual therapy from 14 weeks of pregnancy, and not 28 weeks as was previously the case.
The treatment of HIV and AIDS and TB are also being integrated, and will be treated under one roof.
Meanwhile, Zuma said there is no contradiction between faster land reform and the consistent application of the law. The Democratic Alliance had earlier asked whether government’s faster and more pragmatic approach to land reform would be carried out within the ambit of the law.
Zuma said government had recognised that the land reform programmes implemented to date have not been entirely sustainable.
“They have not provided the anticipated socio-economic benefits to all the recipients of the programmes. Among other things, this is the result of institutional weaknesses in overall land management, policy and legislation”.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform embarked on the development of a Green Paper on Agrarian Transformation, Rural Development and Land Reform, which is currently being finalised for submission to Cabinet.
A Land Tenure Bill, which will repeal the Extension of Security of Tenure Act and the Labour Tenants Act, will soon be introduced.
This Bill will, among other things, aim at protecting the rights of farm workers, farm dwellers and landowners. – BuaNews