Decision-makers in government need to be preoccupied with how to avoid a situation where an entire generation of children are born poor.Stats SA’s outgoing chief statistician, Pali Lehohla, was a visibly frustrated man at this week’s release of the report Poverty Trends in South Africa: An examination of absolute poverty between 2006 and 2015.The report found that poverty in the country worsened substantially between 2011 and 2015, when 30.4 million (or 55.5%) of citizens were classified as poor.The number of people living in extreme poverty – set at below R441 per person a month in 2015 – increased by 2.8 million, from 11 million in 2011 to 13.8 million in 2015.Western Cape and Gauteng had the lowest poverty levels. Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal had the highest levels.“I think the question we must ask ourselves, is for the children who are yet to be born. What life will they lead? Will it be one where the majority of people that are poor are children?” he asked.“What I see is things are turning against what the National Development Plan (NDP) wants – which is to reduce poverty, increase employment, decrease inequality. On the unemployment and poverty front, the country is going in the opposite direction and that is a big worry for those who are running the NDP.”Lehohla said government needed to use statistics to come up with a comprehensive plan, which should respond to market needs and provide education and skills for the poor.“There is no short cut to good development. It takes time. It takes investment."It takes collective action. Jobs are a problem, but when people do not have skills to undertake the job, that’s a problem too,” he said.“In the absence of planning, this thing is not going to go anywhere ... Here in SA we are providing the numbers, but I don’t think they are used adequately.”Lehohla said countries such as South Korea and China have shown that an entire nation could be trained and skilled to avoid poverty.“South Africa has a lot of money. It provides a lot of money to education, but it takes more than money to get it right. Let’s put a plan on the table."Let the political action move us in that direction. That plan must be anchored in very strong evidence, which we already have here at Stats SA."And let the choices be made, and those political choices, once agreed on, must be pursued aggressively,” he said.