Forg­ing ahead in ed­u­ca­tion, health and land al­lo­ca­tion

CityPress - - Voices -

This state of the prov­ince ad­dress shall serve as an ac­count of how the Free State govern­ment has per­formed in its im­ple­men­ta­tion of the le­gacy of for­mer ANC pres­i­dent Oliver Regi­nald Tambo, who would have turned 100 years old this year.

The per­for­mance of the ma­tric class of 2016 once again placed the prov­ince in the num­ber one spot. We were the only prov­ince that broke the 90% thresh­old. The dis­tricts of Xhariep, Fezile Dabi and Thabo Mo­fut­sanyane achieved 90% and above, and are among the top six dis­tricts in the coun­try.

Our per­for­mance in math­e­mat­ics, science and ac­count­ing as key sub­jects was above 70% and we are pleased that over the past seven years, the prov­ince has made strides in these gate­way sub­jects. Tambo, a math­e­mat­ics and science teacher, would have been proud of this achieve­ment.

Through our Smart Schools Pi­lot Project, we will ex­plore the best ways and prac­tices of de­ploy­ing in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy to en­hance teach­ing and learn­ing out­comes in our schools. We will host an an­nual Ed­u­ca­tion Ind­aba later this year, with all stake­hold­ers fo­cus­ing on e-learn­ing and sup­port­ing our e-Ed­u­ca­tion strat­egy.

We have in­creased the num­ber of bur­saries from 139 in 2009 to 8 232 cur­rently. Of these, 861 stu­dents are pur­su­ing var­i­ous post­ma­tric­u­la­tion qual­i­fi­ca­tions in Cuba, China, Rus­sia, Madeira, Turkey and Ger­many. These in­clude 196 stu­dents study­ing medicine in Cuba and an­other 199 stu­dents study­ing medicine and other sub­jects in Rus­sia.

Work­ing with the Treat­ment Ac­tion Cam­paign and all our stake­hold­ers in the Pro­vin­cial Coun­cil on Aids, we are be­gin­ning to re­alise re­sults in the fight against the spread of HIV/Aids, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis (TB) and mor­tal­ity. Within a year, the TB mor­tal­ity rate has de­clined from 9% to 7.1%.

This year, we will ex­tend the op­er­at­ing hours of our clin­ics, start­ing with Harry Gwala Clinic in Met­sima­holo Lo­cal Mu­nic­i­pal­ity. The Batho Clinic in Man­gaung will hence­forth op­er­ate for 24 hours out of 24 to ac­com­mo­date the grow­ing de­mand, which of­ten man­i­fests in long queues. To en­hance and ex­pe­dite health ser­vices, highly spe­cialised and tech­no­log­i­cal mo­bile buses will be used to pro­vide ser­vices in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas as well as min­ing towns. Re Hlasela Mahloko le Mal­wetse..!

The me­nace of sub­stance abuse poses a ter­ri­ble threat to our so­ci­ety and un­der­mines our de­vel­op­men­tal and trans­for­ma­tion agenda. Through var­i­ous in­ter­ven­tions and work­ing with dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers, we tar­geted and as­sisted the youth at sub­stance abuse treat­ment cen­tres. We will con­tinue to wage a rig­or­ous cam­paign against sub­stance abuse in our com­mu­ni­ties. In April, we will open the Bey­ers Naude Drug Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Clarens.

More than 15 000 peo­ple were reached through poverty re­duc­tion ini­tia­tives, while 816 youth were linked to eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties. We have re­sponded to the in­abil­ity of some young women to buy san­i­tary tow­els by ini­ti­at­ing a project which will pro­duce and dis­trib­ute san­i­tary tow­els.

We have al­lo­cated 7 017 hectares of land to small­holder farm­ers, while 987 hectares have been given to labour ten­ants, farm work­ers and farm dwellers. In light of the drought ex­pe­ri­enced last year, we as­sisted farm­ers with an­i­mal feeds and with the drilling of 132 new bore­holes to ease the bur­den.

The lease port­fo­lio of govern­ment prop­erty is sit­ting at 74% white own­er­ship and 26% black own­er­ship. We will en­sure that this skewed pat­tern of own­er­ship changes to at least a 50% share for black land­lords by 2020.

In the past year, we spent R1.2 bil­lion on small, medium and mi­cro en­ter­prises through state pro­cure­ment, ben­e­fit­ing about 2 700 small en­ter­prises. A R60 mil­lion in­dus­trial park was launched in Bot­sha­belo in June 2016 and is aimed at re­vi­tal­is­ing in­dus­trial parks. We will es­tab­lish a ho­tel school at Phillip Saun­ders Re­sort. A jobs sum­mit will be con­vened to deal with job losses in the prov­ince.

The an­nual crime statis­tics fur­ther main­tain that the Free State is on top in the fight against crime in the coun­try. Our Ar­rive Alive cam­paigns will be im­ple­mented through­out the year.

The 494 hectare Sa­sol­burg land par­cel has the po­ten­tial of yield­ing in ex­cess of 7 000 hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Our mega projects, in­clud­ing Hill­side View and Vista Park 2 and 3, will make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact in the lives of our peo­ple when com­pleted.

Baken Park Ex­ten­sions 5, 6 & 7 Project in Dih­labeng is a key In­for­mal Set­tle­ments Up­grad­ing project and has the po­ten­tial to yield more than 5 000 hous­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. Vir­ginia, The­unis­sen, Kroon­stad and Welkom have been iden­ti­fied for de­vel­op­ment as part of a min­ing town de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme.

In Vrede, we will ap­ply al­ter­na­tive build­ing tech­nol­ogy through tim­ber boarding and poly­styrene in­fill con­crete. A mixed-race de­vel­op­ment in Matjhabeng will be com­pleted as part of our con­tri­bu­tion to so­cial co­he­sion.

To­gether with Gaut­eng Premier David Makhura, we will em­bark on the de­vel­op­ment of “River Cities” along the Sa­sol­burg-Vaal River area to stim­u­late the economies of both prov­inces.

There is grad­ual im­prove­ment in the au­dit out­comes of our mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties. Fezile Dabi at­tained a clean au­dit opin­ion in 2015/16, while Mo­qhaka and Phumelela pro­gressed from qual­i­fied and disclaimer opin­ions, re­spec­tively, to un­qual­i­fied opin­ions.

We have em­ployed artists in our schools to train learn­ers in the per­form­ing and vis­ual arts and in crafts. We are also build­ing stu­dios in Parys, Ficks­burg, Welkom and Beth­le­hem to help artists record their mu­sic, po­ems and com­edy.

Pres­i­dent OR Tambo’s jour­ney in pur­suit of co­op­er­a­tion, peace, sol­i­dar­ity, jus­tice and equal­ity did not per­ish in 1993 when he passed on. To honour his le­gacy, we will con­tinue the jour­ney to­wards a fully demo­cratic, non­ra­cial, non­sex­ist, united and pros­per­ous South Africa.

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