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Government's key priorities for 2011 Moving with speed to meet government's priorities

Government has committed itself to make a difference in the lives
of people by addressing five key priority areas. They are education, fighting crime, health, employment and rural development.

Government is moving with speed to ensure that the aims of its five key priorities are met.

Plans are already in place to set up a National Health Insurance (NHI) by 2013. This will ensure that all South Africans, even those who are not on medical aid, will have access to affordable quality healthcare.

Rural Development

On rural development, government, through the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, started the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme in provinces that were hardest hit by under-development.

This has seen government’s War on Poverty Programme being the central point of the Rural Development Programme.

It involves various other departments including Social Development, Agriculture and Water Affairs.

New Growth Plan

Late last year, the Department of Economic Development announced
its plan to create more than 50 000 jobs every year. The plan is known
as the New Growth Path (NGP).

Working with trade unions, government’s aim with this job-creation plan is to help reduce dependence on social security grants.

Fighting Crime

Government has recently strengthened its crime-fighting programmes
with more resources. These include equipment and vehicles, as well as more staff for the South African Police Force.

This month, Police Commissioner General, Bheki Cele, handed over more than 300 high-performance vehicles to the Gauteng police. This will ensure that a shortage of vehicles will not hamper crime fighting in the province.

Education

On the education front, the Department of Higher Education and
Training announced that government would begin fulfilling its promise of providing free education to poor students at institutions of higher learning. These include universities, universities of technology and colleges for Further Education and Training (FET).

As from this year, those students who qualify for assistance from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will receive funding to cover the cost of their studies.

All students who have NSFAS loans will have their loans changed into full bursaries if they complete their studies within the prescribed three-year duration period.

No fees

Another important development is that as from 2011, students in FET Colleges who qualify for financial aid will not be required to pay tuition
fees. This will make it even easier for students from poor families
to enrol at the FET colleges. This is aimed at helping the country to meet its needs for technical skills.

– Mbulelo Baloyi