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January 2021 edition

Improving the quality of life in SA

Albert Pule
An increased number of tourists travelling to South Africa, higher life expectancy and more children attending childhood development facilities. These are some of the highlights that the country experienced between 1994 and 2014.

This is according to the 2014 Development Indicators Report, which was released by the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, recently. 

The 2014 National Development Indicators are an initiative by the government’s Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation to track progress made in various areas of development, using data ranging from 1994 to 2014.

There are 86 indicators, which are grouped into 10 themes, ranging from the health of the economy, growth and transformation.

The data is sourced from various government administrative data sets, national official statistics and research by local and international institutions.

The indicators are used to measure progress and help government to track, using quantitative measures, the effectiveness of its policies and interventions towards achieving the national goals in the areas of development outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030.

South Africans are living longer

The life expectancy of South Africans has improved steadily over the past decade, with an overall net gain of eight-and-a-half years.

“The increase in life expectancy can be attributed to the constant improvement in the implementation of comprehensive strategies to combat the quadruple burden of diseases inclusive of communicable disease, primarily HIV and AIDS and Tuberculosis, and the reduction in infant and child mortality rates,” said Minister Radebe.

Infant mortality improved from 58 to 34 deaths, per 1 000 live births, between 2002 and 2004. Over the same period, under five mortality, decreased from 85 to 44 deaths, per 1 000 live births.

“South Africa contributed to halting and reversing the spread of HIV – Millennium Development Goal Six. The number of HIV positive persons on anti-retroviral treatment has now reached 3.5 million,” he said.

The successful treatment rate of TB patients also reached 82 per cent in 2012, while the TB cure rate reached 77 per cent.

Tourism numbers on the rise

In 2005, only seven million international travellers arrived in South Africa. Between then and 2013 the number has increased significantly.

“Almost 15 million international travellers arrived in South Africa in 2013, double the number in 2005.

The percentage of jobs created in the tourism industry in 2012 stood at 4.6 per cent. This is up from four per cent in 2005 and contributed R93 billion to Gross Domestic Products in 2012, more than double the R45 billion in 2005.”

Higher education and training

At least 30 000 young people have benefited from internships and learnerships in the public service since the decision to systematically implement this programme in 2009. The programme aims to address skills shortages.

Access to education for all

The Development Indicators Report also revealed that the number of five-year-old attending Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities has more than doubled, from 39 per cent in 2002 to 87 per cent in 2014.  The number of Grade 1 learners who  attended Grade R reached 87.2 per cent in 2014.

“While it is heartening that more learners are attending Grade R the quality and impact of Grade R varies across different settings, as shown by the evaluation completed by DBE and DPME in 2012,” said Minister Radebe. 

The National Senior Certificate pass rate consistently improved from 2008 to 2013, but dipped slightly to 75.8 per cent in 2014.

The decrease coincided with the first class which ever to write the Grade 12 Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) examinations.

Minister Radebe said improving the quality of ECD was an important ingredient for improving the results of learners in the whole education system.

South African adults who are literate went up from 73 per cent in 2002 to 84 per cent in 2014, which compares favourably to other African and Middle Eastern countries.

Job creation

The report indicates that one in four working age adults actively seeking employment remained unemployed during the period under review.

In 2014, youth unemployment reached a peak of 48.8 per cent among the 15-24 year age group and 29.6 per cent amongst the 25-34 group.  Unemployment is aggravated by lack of appropriate skills.

To reduce the high levels of unemployment Minister Radebe said there’s a need to develop entrepreneurship amongst the youth by encouraging interest, developing skills and creating opportunities.”

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)

Investment in infrastructure has boosted youth employment in construction with the EPWP expanding the intake and participation of young people.

The goal of the programme is to provide six million work opportunities by 2019 through the labour intensive delivery of public and community assets and services.

According to the report, employment in the EPWP continues to expand steadily.

“Short-term employment opportunities through the EPWP remain an important intervention to support unemployed working-aged adults. In the year 2013/14, the EPWP created more than one million work opportunities. Infrastructure has created more work opportunities than other sectors,” noted the report.

While the EPWP has grown substantially, with more than three-fold growth in four years, this is not sufficient to ensure a skilled, qualified and capable workforce, given the country’s focus on decent jobs, said Minister Radebe.

Access to basic services

Although the number of households grew from 10.8 million to 15.6 million between 2002 and 2014, the share of households accessing basic services increased from 77 per cent to 86 per cent for electricity and from 80 per cent to 86 per cent for water infrastructure, which exceeded RDP standards.

The proportion of households accessing sanitation went up from 62 per cent to 80 per cent.

Electricity: Between 2007 and 2014, the number of households with access to electricity increased. In 2007, there were over 10 million houses with electricity and in 2014, there were over 13 million houses holds with electricity putting the access in the country at 86 per cent.

Water: Households with access to water increased by over 3 million between 2006 and 2014. In 2006, there were over 10 million households with access to water and in 2014, the number had grown to over 13 million.

Economic growth

Over the past 10 years the country’s economy has grown at an average of 3.7 per cent and, in 2014, growth was 1.5 per cent. Government’s target for economic growth in the NDP is 5.4 per cent.

Minister Radebe attributed the slow growth to poor global economic conditions and the drop in commodity prices, which has a huge impact on the mining industry.