Statement of the ANC NEC Subcommittee on Education, Health, and Science and Technology ahead of the 54th ANC National Conference

13 December 2017


Thank you for attending this media briefing on the work of the Subcommittee and its policy proposals towards the 54th ANC National Conference.

This statement outlines to the media and South Africans at large, the journey traversed by the ANC to implement the resolutions of the 53rd ANC National Conference as well as to outline key policy proposals towards the 54th National Conference tabled for resolution by the National Policy Conference held in June this year.

It is four years since President Mandela passed away. We remain inspired by his life's work. We will celebrate his life and remember his legacy next year.

President Mandela made a profound contribution to the ANC's education policy and practise. In his address to the Presidential and Premier Education Awards of 22 November 1997, President Nelson Mandela said:

"The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation. Our previous system emphasised the physical and other differences of South Africans with devastating effects. We are steadily but surely introducing education that enables our children to exploit their similarities and common goals, while appreciating the strength in their diversity".
That was a commitment to the promotion of excellence, nation-building and reconciliation. These were and remain non-negotiable. It was also a commitment to policies that make colleges and universities accessible to all South Africans and more so, inclusive places for black people and women.

Since the dawn of democracy science and technology has been put in the centre of development in our country; and schools, colleges and universities have become accessible to all South Africans as a result of two decades of implementation of progressive policies and programmes as advocated by Cde Nelson Mandela above. We have observed the growth and successes of our country's basic education sector, especially the increase in numbers of enrolled students and those that complete their National Senior Certificate examinations. We appreciate the introduction of the Three Stream Model of education whose impact will be seen in its contribution to skills development and economic growth.

We have noted the positive impact of implementation of ANC policies that has resulted in increased and expanded participation in higher education. At the same time there has been a huge expansion in the number of women studying in higher education: women are in a majority. We have experienced transformation of our universities from insular institutions to open institutions for all. The growth in financial support to students through the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is one of the greatest advances that took place in the last two decades of democracy under the leadership of the ANC.


The 53rd National Conference mandated the then incoming NEC to continue implementing programmes to ensure that education remains the apex priority of the ANC and country, that health services continue to be delivered in the context of this being a priority; and that Science, Technology and Innovation is integrated into the work of the entire South African society.

ANC Subcommittee on Education, Health, Science and Technology: General

The Subcommittee is one of the few that enjoys full participation of representatives of constituent and fraternal organisations, namely the ANC Women's League and Veterans' League, Chairpersons and Whips: ANC Study Groups and Portfolio Committees in Parliament namely Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, Health and Science and Technology; members of Executive Councils (MECs) of Education and Health; ANC PEC Subcommittees, COSATU: NEHAWU and SADTU, SACP and SANCO; and the Progressive Youth Alliance made up of the ANC Youth League, the Congress of South African Students (COSAS), the South African Students Congress (SASCO), and the Young Communist League (YCL)The Subcommittee. It still remains with the task of collating and consolidating sectoral ANC policy documents.

Science and Technology

The ANC, through its science-technology-innovation sector, provides strategic leadership and coordination of the national innovation system. The principle of mainstreaming science, technology and innovation (STI) in the ANC, government and the private sector has been adopted.

Despite efforts of the STI sector to get adequate finance and increase the capacity of the national innovation system, it has not reached the target of 1,5% expenditure of Gross Domestic Product. This is mainly due to the unavailability of funds. Business R&D has been on the decline since 2008, but there are recent signs of improvement.

Science, technology and innovation programmes led by science councils and centres of competence are important for economic growth. Important ones currently underway include SKA, and projects like HySA Fuel Cells, Titanium Beneficiation, Manganese Precursor Development and the Fluorochemicals Expansion Initiative. The STI sector is involved in and focused on successful initiatives needed for science and mathematics teacher training and learner engagement opportunities.

Basic Education

The ANC has, through its basic-education sector, continued to improve access and inclusivity. As a result, the country has more people leaving school with a National Senior Certificate entering colleges and universities. The sector's highly successful programmes include ECD and grade R; the introduction ICTs in schools through Operation Phakisa; the introduction of the three-stream curriculum model of academic, technical-vocation and vocational-occupational streams; the introduction of ICT-resourced teacher development centres; and the roll-out of the learner improvement and attainment strategy.

In ensuring that there are improvements in the resourcing education and procurement, the sector has adopted a centralised approach in the procurement of stationery, textbooks and workbooks to schools.

The sector is providing effective and impactful health and social programmes, including psycho-social services, deworming, and HPV Vaccination against cervical cancer.

The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign, one of the ANC's programmes of excellence, has changed lives and created working opportunities. It has received recognition awards national and internationally.

The basic-education sector is finalising the National Policy for Grade R to make Grade R compulsory through the adoption of the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill.

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) results show that South Africa has achieved the largest improvement in learning outcomes between 2002 and 2015 in Mathematics, and Science though from a low base, which is the best improvement among all countries that were assessed in 2015.

The basic-education sector is concerned with the following key challenges: disruptions of schooling during times of unrests, high dropout and repetition rates, particularly in Grades 9-12; health-related challenges such as TB and HIV & AIDS; and procurement challenges related to LTSMs, infrastructure and school furniture

Higher Education and Training

The ANC has, through its higher-education and training sector, introduced a newly structured national student financial aid system to enable the implementation of fee-free education for the poor, as directed by conference. The sector has consolidated infrastructure requirements with estimated costs to expand the post school education and training system. This is linked to and coordinated by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordination Council (PICC). The sector has also contributed immensely to the country's skills development, a factor that has a huge impact on social development and economic growth.


The ANC has ensured that government continues with its sterling work of combating HIV-infections. The sector has performed extremely well in its programmes against HIV and AIDS. Anti-HIV & AIDS programme resulted in fewer deaths and increased life expectancy, reduced overall mortality in the country, dramatic reduction of maternal mortality, dramatic drop in mother to child transmission and reduction in child and infant mortality and drop in TB mortality due to successful ARV treatment.

The sector has instituted a number of game changing interventions such as GeneXpert testing and has evidence of TB disease burden declining. It is however concerned about TB remaining the primary underlying cause of death in South Africa.

Through its health sector, the ANC has reactivated programmes to ensure that the District Health System is functional in all provinces, as a practical step of strengthening Primary Health Care. The White Paper on the National Health Insurance (NHI) was adopted by government and work is being done to get the NHI Bill finalized and submitted to Parliament for processing. NHI Pilot sites are actively preparing the National Health System for implementation of NHI. Work on the establishment of the NHI Fund has been progressing well.


The ANC is very confident that delegates to its 54th National Conference will apply their collective minds to policy proposals that emerged out of the 5th ANC National Policy Conference. Some of those recommendations and policy proposals are the following:
Science and technology

  •  Incentivise government and business to use and increase the uptake of locally produced technologies;
  •  Increase support for postgraduate funding for poor students to increase South Africa's research capacity;
  • Encourage learners in schools, students at colleges, and workers in every sector to invent new technologies and products; and
  •  Review postgraduate funding to improve race and gender representatively and retention of researchers

Basic education

  • Accelerate programmes to improve literacy and numeracy, especially in formerly disadvantaged communities.
  • Protect all public property, schools, health clinics, community halls;
  • Provide for the establishment of public schools for talented or specially gifted learners; and
  • Encourage young people to enter technical and vocational education, with a special focus on mobility from school to college and university.

Higher education and training

  • Clarify the nature and role of the entire college sector that comprises Community Education and Training (CET) colleges, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and other colleges for specialised purposes such as agriculture, nursing, emergency care, policing and teaching
  • Promote the quality of learning and teaching in the college sector and university sector in line with the call for institutional and curriculum decolonisation
  • Accelerate and complete the opening of professional colleges to increase training in agriculture, nursing, and teaching
  • Finalise the model for free higher education for those unable to afford fees
  • Develop incentives to increase the number of young people entering scarce skills programmes
  • Finalise the framework for regulating higher education fees and redesign funding formula for the college and university sector
  • Implement the Central Application Service (CAS) by March 2018 and implement across the PSET system by 2022
  • Increase the retirement age of academic staff.


  • Strengthen measures to improve the quality of care offered by health practitioners in the public and private sector
  • Curb medical malpractice, high costs of medical insurance and litigation against medical malpractice
  • Initiate a national preventative vaccine programme making vaccines available for all vaccine-preventable diseases
  • Revitalise Military Health infrastructure, including acquisition of the necessary health technology.


The main challenges of ensuring good education outcomes, delivering good quality health services and ensuring that South Africans develop a culture where Science, Technology and Innovation is their second nature persist.

The National Conference will discuss ways of strengthening the capacity and capability of the state as an important factor towards good delivery of services. It will also focus of our strengthening the ability of the ANC to plan, implement, enforce, monitor and achieve the desired objectives in the service of all South Africans.

The ANC is confident that all sectors have made good progress in implementing resolutions of the 53rd ANC National Conference. It has noted areas of excellence and also areas of concern where sectors have room for improvement and where urgent action needs to be taken. All sectors are on track to achieve most of their goals.

Issued by
Naledi Pandor,
Chairperson of the ANC NEC Subcommittee on Education and Health
On behalf of the African National Congress

Zizi Kodwa
082 330 4910
National Spokesperson

Khusela Sangoni
072 854 5707
National Communications Manager