A policy study of the Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) with respect to social development and Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET)
This study analyses the Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy with respect to social development, and adult basic education and training (ABET). Since its adoption as official economic policy, replacing the RDP policy in June 1996, the GEAR strategy has been a subject of much debate, and blamed for all social and economic ills, including job losses and high unemployment, poverty, problems in the education, health and welfare system, as well as poor delivery of social services. Motivated by these debates, the author set out to investigate how GEAR provides / does not provide for social development and ABET, both areas of interest to the author. This study investigates this question based only on a review of literature. While the GEAR strategy makes policy proposals in various aspects of the economy, and sets an economic growth target of 6% per annum by the year 2000, and the creation of 400 000 jobs per annum during the same period (all of which were not met), evidence shows no policy provisions in the GEAR strategy with respect to social development, and ABET. In fact, ABET is not mentioned at all in the GEAR strategy. However, the GEAR strategy makes specific mention of the Human Resources Development Strategy, as a vehicle for addressing education and training problems, thereby improving the skills base of the country. The Human Resources Development Strategy and the National Skills Development Strategy sponsored by the DoE and DoL respectively, all seem to be sound policies. There is however growing evidence that South Africa has developed sound policies which it fails to implement because of lack of capacity and financial resources partly due to the government's acceptance of the neoliberal agenda. This appears to be particularly true with respect to social development and ABET targets in the Human Resources Development and the National Skills Development strategies. This study concludes that the GEAR strategy is based on neoliberal assumptions of stimulating foreign investment, export-led economic growth, global trade and global competition, underpinned by the conception that the state must play a minimal role in the economy and is therefore not appropriate for the social development challenges (especially illiteracy) facing South Africa. If progress is to be made in addressing these challenges in South Africa, an alternative to the GEAR strategy must be found .