Continuous education, training and development of public servants is critical in the professionalisation of public administration. One of the strategic priorities is to establish a school of government that creates a highly capable, skilled, socially and ethically committed public service cadreship that understands and accepts its national duty and has a common culture and ethos.
But education and training is not our only strategic endeavour to build a professional and capable public servant and public service. Previous and existing models of public service training and development are characterised by little effective focus on the development of the norms, values, attitudes and orientation of public officials which are essential in creating a common ethos and sense of purpose.
In this regard, capacity development requires, in addition to education and training, applied research and experiential learning and the institutionalisation of appropriate working practices and norms of behaviour to have the envisioned impact on employee performance and service delivery improvement.
An advisory task team has completed a project implementation plan on the school. This team is finalising the new public administration and management training and development approach and curricula; the functional and organisational design of the school; institutional aspects of governance, leadership and management; funding system and flows.
This team will also finalise a long-term plan and programme on education and training for public servants at all levels of government. No longer will the government outsource wholesale its training and development programme.
The National Development Plan (Vision 2030) outlines the systemic challenges affecting efficient service delivery and recommends a long-term strategic approach to enhancing institutional capacity.
The school will seek to institutionalise a culture of professionalism and innovative thinking within the public service and also serve as a catalyst for reform, modernisation and performance-oriented public service. The school will be established through the redesigning of public service education, training and development to public servants in the government; the transformation and migration of the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (Palama) functions into the school; and the development of new programmes to build a competent, professional public service.
The new school will emerge through a redesigning of the institutional arrangements of public service education, training and development within public administration; the transition of and transfer of Palama functions into the school; and the design and development of a new national curriculum that directly deals with the professional and continued development of public service cadres.
A combination of mandatory and demand-driven programmes, as well as virtual delivery strategies, will be delivered by the school.
The core strategic focus will be on building public service cadres who will be equipped with the relevant skills, knowledge and ethos to deliver public goods, services and works effectively and efficiently in response to citizen needs.
The school will be responsible and accountable for education, training and development supported by context-based experiential research of the public service at levels of government.
The school and its various programmes will be accredited by appropriate statutory accreditation institutions.
As the strategic centre of education, training and development in the public service, the school will comprise primarily of experienced, competent and committed former and current public servants as instructors, facilitators and lecturers.
The capabilities of the faculty will be augmented in the short term by academics and training facilitators from higher education institutions and other service providers. All spheres of government and public entities will be approached to assist in identifying best-practice experts.
The school will be a well-structured accredited public service education, training and development institution with effective systems to support the design and delivery of training, education, research and advisory services on human capital management.
A new curriculum is being developed targeting the administrators, junior management, middle management, senior management and executive management of the public service. It will be designed to develop the skills, knowledge and competencies needed to enable officials to be effective and efficient in their specific technical and professional areas.
Critical areas that will be addressed during the establishment of the school include:
Development of a teaching, learning and development framework that sets norms and standards for education, training and development in the public service.
Development and examination of the institutional and organisational design involving review of six inter-related elements (strategic direction, human resources, financial resources, infrastructure and organisational systems, service delivery and linkages).
Identification and recruitment of human resource capacity in the area of curriculum and course development, research and training capacity to deliver, especially mandatory programmes.
Searching for and establishing a campus with extensive technological support for e-learning. They also have residential facilities, classrooms, auditoriums and libraries.
The management and professional capabilities of the school encompass strong public sector organisation and human development competencies; understanding of the National Development Plan; proven experience in the design, development and delivery of public sector curriculum and training; and familiarity with global bodies of knowledge and practice in public service organisation and management.
Current personnel will be retrained and new staff will be appointed with strong organisation development and diagnostic skills, facilitators, experts in key areas, and officials who can establish and maintain effective administrative arrangements.
Over the next months, we will work tirelessly with our strategic partners in the government, business sector and the various academic programmes within universities to establish a unique world-class school of government for South Africa.