Stellenbosch University
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Growing tomorrow’s leaders today
Author: SPL Marketing
Published: 12/09/2023

Governments around the world are being confronted with unprecedented opportunities and challenges. The convergence of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, augmented reality and biotechnology and nanotechnology have the potential to transform the economy, society, and government for the better. On the other hand, the declining democratic legitimacy of governments around the world and the looming climate change threat pose global threats. In South Africa, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the loadshedding crisis, state capture and the escalating socioeconomic issues of poverty, unemployment, and inequality intensify these challenges.

In many instances, the binding constraints is not a lack of finances as evidenced by high levels of underspending, but the absence of competent, effective, accountable, and ethical appointed and elected officials across the three spheres of government and public entities and the inability to implement policies and programmes.

With South Africa at a pivotal crossroads in its democratic development destiny there is an unparalleled urgency to bolster state capacity and nurture a cohort of ethical public leaders with a nuanced understanding of inter-related public policy challenges facing the South African economy and broader society.

On 19 October 2022, Cabinet approved The National Framework towards Professionalisation of the Public Sector which aims to ensure a “responsive, meritocratic, and professional public administration in the service of the people."

Responsiveness refers to the ability to promptly address the needs, concerns, and preferences of the citizens it serves. In a responsive public administration, government agencies and officials actively engage with the public, listen to their feedback, and adapt policies and services accordingly. Responsiveness implies a willingness to adjust strategies based on changing circumstances and evolving public demands, fostering a sense of trust and engagement between government and the citizens.

“Merit-based" refers to a system where positions, opportunities, and rewards are distributed based on an individual's skills, qualifications, and demonstrated performance, rather than on factors like social status or personal connections. In a meritocratic public administration, recruitment, hiring, and advancement are guided by the principle that individuals with the most relevant skills and capabilities should be given responsibilities and leadership roles.

Professionalism refers to adherence to high standards of expertise, ethics, and conduct. A professional public administration prioritizes competence, integrity, and accountability in its operations. Professionals in public administration are expected to possess specialized knowledge, adhere to codes of ethics, and uphold transparency in their decisions and actions.

A public service ethic underscores the primary mission of public administration: to serve the interests and well-being of the citizens and communities it serves. A public administration that is "in the service of the people" is focused on improving public welfare, promoting social justice, and enhancing the quality of life for all citizens. It emphasizes citizen engagement, inclusivity, and delivering services that address societal needs and challenges and progressively realize socio-economic rights. A public administration "in the service of the people" strives to create a positive impact by providing efficient services, formulating, and implementing policies that benefit society, and ensuring equitable access to resources and opportunities for all segments of society.

One of the fundamental cornerstones in realizing the aims set out by the National Professional Framework involves cultivating a culture and ethos of perpetual learning and ongoing professional development across the public service.

In this context, the academic programmes of School of Public Leadership (SPL) play a pivotal role in supporting the development of South African and African public leaders. At SPL, we are dedicated to equipping graduates with the essential skills and knowledge required to assume prominent positions within public and civic organizations and use their authority to lead positive change. These empowered individuals are primed to address intricate developmental and governance challenges while remaining committed to serving the needs of the people.

The SPL is committed to community-relevant, internationally, and nationally competitive, academic, and professional teaching, research, and provision of services in the fields of planning, public policy analysis, public finance management, development, and environmental management, aimed at the promotion of sustainable development in a participative and fair manner.

To this end, the teaching, research, consulting, and community work programmes of the School are designed to foster professional excellence, social entrepreneurship, reflective leadership, effective and resilient management, and the competencies needed to work within complex, multi-disciplinary, networked and diverse operating environments.

Our course content is designed through rigorous research grounded in theory and practice to provide a holistic understanding of the complex governance challenges of our times. With seasoned scholars and experts, we offer an immersive learning journey that combines theoretical insights with hands-on application.

The SPL is the only school in South Africa that combines all three pillars of effective public leadership, in relation to good governance, environmental management and sustainable development in one package:

Public Governance, focuses on equipping students with competencies in a wide array of critical aspects, including leadership, public policy analysis, organizational dynamics, efficient service delivery strategies, public finance management, ethics and accountability frameworks, rigorous monitoring and evaluation practices within the public service sector.

Environmental Management builds students competencies to respond to the pressing need for ecological sustainability amid escalating demands on natural resources. Our courses provide a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary examination of environmental management. This encompasses the strategic balance between development and environmental preservation, preparing students to address complex environmental challenges.

Sustainable Development, our trans-disciplinary approach to sustainable development empowers students to explore the pathways leading towards an environmentally sustainable future for all. Through our courses, individuals gain a profound understanding of the multifaceted dimensions of sustainable development, enabling them to contribute positively to the creation of equitable, inclusive, and environmentally conscious societies.

Our formal programmes provide tailored learning opportunities. Recognising the diverse needs of our students, we offer flexible hybrid teaching and learning options to suit various career stages. Combining stimulating face to face contact sessions with the convenience of self-paced online learning.

The public service is at a pivotal juncture, demanding visionary leaders and managers who can navigate complex policy landscapes and drive positive change. With our comprehensive formal programmes, you can acquire and build on the competencies necessary to make a positive difference for the betterment of society as envisioned in our Constitution. 

Enrol today to embark on a transformative journey of growth, empowerment, and meaningful public service in service of our people.

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Article also available on the Daily Maverick