Posted on November 20, 2012
Deputy President Motlanthe commented how “The University of Pretoria is becoming one of the social partners equally seized with the concern to help catapult our public institutions to a higher level of efficiency. It has always committed itself in helping to produce the calibre of public servants that our country needs.”
The Conference’s theme is Pushing the model of governance in the public sector to higher levels of performance, effectiveness and accountability – global challenges and prospects. It was attended by reputable academics from across the country and abroad, whose perspectives and contributions helped enrich the conference’s outcomes and resolutions.
Deputy President Motlanthe said the Conference theme is particularly pertinent to South Africa because public institutions have identified causal constraints in public service and the best ways of addressing them. He emphasised the Government’s commitment is to strengthen its efforts at reconstruction and development of civil service and governance, which stems from the country’s historical experience of socio-economic inequalities. Their efforts are aimed at tackling the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
Deputy President Motlanthe further mentioned how the inexperience of this new democratic state presented challenges in the process of transforming the old order, bearing a Legacy that manifests itself in unsatisfactory levels of service delivery.
He also highlighted how the connection between political authority and the administrative arm is generally poor, due to a non-historical frame of reference or long-established traditions in our new democracy – trends that often affect service delivery. “This has, in some cases, led to strained relations between ministers and director-generals, resulting in the high turnover of senior administrative personnel who take with them invaluable skills needed in public service. This loss of rare skills and pivotal institutional memory further constrains the ability of the public service sector to deliver,” said Deputy President Motlanthe.
Deputy President Motlanthe also encouraged institutions of higher learning to assist in the Government’s efforts to overhaul its public service machinery, and also to produce graduates who are better equipped for the challenge. He said universities should consciously respond to social conditions in their approach in order to drive social development in an all-rounded fashion: “Universities and leadership institutions must be at the forefront of backing the Governments’ efforts to improve public service, especially among young graduates. This requires greater investment in research and teaching of theories of change and development, as well as instilling a selfless spirit of public service.”
The University of Pretoria has already responded to the call made by Deputy President Motlanthe by making a significant contribution to the country’s human capital and supplying high-level skills to the country’s economy. The University’s response was revealed by Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Cheryl de la Rey during her welcoming address, stating that with the University of Pretoria’s long-term strategic plan, UP 2025, the University has planned for growth in terms of the number of students to be accommodated. Despite the global economic challenges, Prof Cheryl de la Rey further pointed out that the University of Pretoria will continue to grow in response to fulfilling its public mandate. Growth will be in skill areas which are most needed in the country, especially in engineering.
Prof De la Rey acknowledged the Government’s contribution – made through the Department of Higher Education and Training – of allocating funds to the University of Pretoria in order to expand its infrastructure within the engineering, health and veterinary sciences to improve service delivery in those particular areas.
“I believe that growing the system is a responsible thing to do, and at the same time we must keep our commitment to high-quality education that will render South Africa more competitive in the future,” said Prof De la Rey.
Professor De la Rey also acknowledged the contribution made by the School of Public Management and Administration in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences. “We intend to continue to make a difference to the level of leadership, particularly to the quality of professional leadership in this country,” she said.Prof Cheryl de la Rey commented that it is not sufficient only to produce graduates with high technical skills, but that as a developing democracy we have to re-examine our curricula to ensure that professionals assume their duties with commitment. “Graduates should also be committed to the high levels of ethics, and contribute to the improvement of quality of life to the citizens of this country,” she concluded.
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