Gigaba: Science and maths a priority
Johannesburg - Improving science, mathematics and technology is the country's top educational priority, according to Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba, who was speaking at the 35th anniversary of Youth Day at the Denel Dynamics Breakfast in Tshwane.
"Government has committed itself to ensuring that children in urban and rural high-poverty schools should have the same access to higher-level mathematics and science as students in wealthy suburban schools.
"However, this challenge is compounded by the fact that such schools do not have adequate teachers, a supportive and encouraging environment, enriching opportunities or adequate financial resources."
Gigaba said that as long as such gaps existed, students from those schools would struggle when and if they entered college.
"It will take enormous resources and time to achieve the required parity."
The minister added that the present era was one where knowledge was decisive in separating winners from losers.
"Knowledge expands the achievement possibilities of those who have it. Lack of it leaves them vulnerable."
Harnessing science, mathematics and technology for human development was critical to building both a competitive and people-centric economy and society.
Gigaba added that youth unemployment remained a serious challenge facing SA.
"Too few jobs are being created to absorb the large numbers of new entrants to the labour market. For example, in the first quarter of 2010, the unemployment rate for young people aged 16 to 30 was 40%, compared with 16% for those aged 30 to 65."
He said government's New Growth Path (NGP) set itself ambitious targets, particularly in terms of job creation - five million jobs in 10 years.
"The NGP recognises that better education and skill levels are a fundamental prerequisite for achieving this. Among others, the NGP requires a radical review of the training system to address shortfalls in artisanal and technical skills."