National School of Government (NSG) to reopen for limited contact learning, training

Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu on Friday announced that the National School of Government (NSG) will reopen for limited contact training on 1 June 2020.

This, according to the Minister is in light of the easing of the lockdown to level 3 of the COVID-19 risk-adjusted strategy alert system.

Minister Mchunu, accompanied by Deputy Minister Sindi Chikunga, visited the NSG premises at the ZK Matthews Building in Sunnyside, Pretoria, and received a briefing on the operations.

The Ministers also inspected the facilities to ascertain the state of readiness for the resumption of limited face-to-face learning and training.

The training rooms and facilities of the NSG have been prepared for the reopening. Minister Mchunu announced the suspension of contact training in March this year in accordance with the provisions of the national lockdown.

Minister Mchunu also directed the NSG to continue exploring various avenues in addition to contact training such as enhanced online training as well as open distance learning models.

The NSG continued with online training during the lockdown period and enrolled learners for courses such as Nyukela, a compulsory pre-entry programme which prepares persons who wish to be appointed as senior managers in the public service.

Other online programmes that saw enrolment growth during the lockdown include the compulsory ethics in the public service as well as strategic planning and management, ethics for internal auditors, Policy and Procedure on Incapacity Leave and Ill-Health Retirement, Generally Recognised Accounting Practice (GRAP) course, Introduction to Leading Change as well as Introduction to Financial Management and Budgeting.

Some of these courses are offered at no cost to public servants.

“The growth in the number of learners who enrolled for the online courses during the lockdown is encouraging and a sign of the school regaining confidence among public servants and private individuals who wish to work for government,” Minister Mchunu said.

The NSG has recently completed its repositioning which includes an expanded mandate to provide education, training and development in the three spheres of government, state-owned entities (SOEs), the Legislative Sector and other organs of state.

This mandate is in line with Section 195 of the Constitution, which declares public administration to be development-oriented and participatory, and the basic values and principles being the basis of interaction between public administration (three spheres of government, organs of state, public enterprises) and society.

The school has also undergone a reconfiguration and will now offer training to the following categories of public servants in the three spheres of government and beyond:

  • Cadet and Foundation Development Level: Training graduates who wish to join the public service from interns up to occupation level 8. Emphasis on understanding rules of government, service delivery excellence (especially as the majority of front line officials are in this band), and build a solid base of occupational skills.
  • Middle Management Development: This will cater for occupational categories 9-12 with emphasis on occupational skills (know-how), supply chain management, budgeting, supervisory skills and pathways to (further) qualifications.
  • Senior Management Development and Professionalisation: This segment targets senior managers at chief director and director levels.  Chapter 4 of the Senior Management Service Handbook determines a set of competencies that employees in these core categories should have. These including analytical skills, problem-solving as well as managing money and people. This is in addition to the core competencies (expertise) required to perform as a professional be it in finance, ICT, issuing of licenses/permits, policy formulation and monitoring, planning and implementing built environment projects like housing, road construction, water provision, etc.
  • Executive Development and Leadership Support. This band includes Directors-General, Deputy Directors-General and political office bearers. The political office bearers segment will include a focus on building expertise on economic governance, political oversight and accountability, etc. using instruments like the Executive Ethics Code, the Public Finance Management Act, Municipal Finance Management Act, National Development Plan and the Medium Term Strategic Framework.

A programme to train board members of state-owned enterprises is also being finalised.

Some of these bespoke programmes will be delivered in partnership with higher education institutions and professional bodies.

The NSG presented its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan to the Portfolio Committee for Public Service and Administration on 4 May 2020 and to the NCOP Select Committee on 20 May 2020.

Minister Mchunu expressed his satisfaction that the repositioning of the NSG is on track and pledged his full support and that of the Deputy Minister as the school navigates operations and a new mission and vision during a difficult COVID-19 environment.

“As the country eases lockdown regulations, public servants are encouraged to take all available training opportunities in order to deepen their knowledge and expertise necessary to serve the people with diligence. They should, as directed by the motto of the NSG which is learn, serve and grow,” Minister Mchunu said.