How world sees SA: Fix education and you’ll fix the economy, says IMF

China’s success is sometimes attributed to the long-term mindset of Chinese leaders. A classic example of how China has made remarkable progress on the back of long-term thinking is its approach to education. The Chinese government has repeatedly prioritised education reform – from primary school to university – in its plans. Slowly but surely this approach has delivered results for the Chinese economy. In addition to creating greater access to higher education, the government has identified the need to update curricula to meet real-world needs. China is sending its young people into the world to receive top quality education and it has also been expanding its private education sector, which includes facilitating international education across the country. Some of the world’s better universities have a presence in China – Duke University and The University of Nottingham are two of several examples – as do independent schools like Eton, which counts many British prime ministers among its alumni. This week the International Monetary Fund underscored the benefits to the South African economy of prioritising education reform, cautioning that significant economic growth is highly unlikely without significant changes to the education system. South Africa has one of the worst education systems in the world, according to The Economist, yet it spends considerable sums on education compared to many other countries. Sadly, with many ANC leaders preoccupied with the short-term gains of black economic empowerment and feathering their own nests, a major – and effective – overhaul of education seems unlikely for now. – Jackie Cameron 

By Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said broad-based reforms to education are needed to boost growth in South Africa, which it predicts will remain below 1% in 2017.

Oya Celasun, deputy division chief at the IMF, said that in 2016 South Africa’s growth “was stuck in low gear” and that 2017 will “improve somewhat … to a still-weak pace of recovery of 0.8% and then improve a bit further” to 1.6% in 2018.