In relation to learning and education, Johannesburg’s residents

voiced concerns about the accessibility of learning institutions

in the city and the varying quality of schools. Although they

believe that everyone has a right to high-quality education,

participants said that in parts of the city, particularly townships,

it can be difficult for children to access high-quality education

because teachers are poorly trained, schools do not have

necessary resources and there are too many children in classes.

People argued that part of the problem is a lack of discipline

and an endemic drug problem in some of the city’s schools.

Participants also indicated that schools should offer a flexible

education that reflects the needs of individual children and

communities and that to achieve this, parents and local

communities should be more involved in school life—helping to

set spending priorities and shape the curriculum.

With regards to health, Forum participants believe that

everyone should have access to a basic standard of health

care. They argued that the health care system in Johannesburg

is unfair because people living in suburbs have access to

high-quality care whereas clinics and hospitals in townships

are overcrowded, poorly equipped and lack the level of service

provided in wealthier parts of the city. To reduce the burden

on these facilities and improve quality of care, residents think

that government should focus on prevention and educate the

public to enable individuals to take greater responsibility for

their own health. Residents are also concerned that doctors

and nurses “don’t seem to care”; they asserted that poorly

trained doctors and nurses ignore patients’ needs and do not

treat the public with respect. Participants argued that doctors

and nurses should receive better training, that their working

conditions must be improved and that government should

do more to encourage medical professionals to stay in South

Africa rather than moving abroad to work.

Participants told us that immigration from outside South

Africa is a major problem facing their city. While migration

from other parts of the country is a cause of concern for

some, it is a less pressing issue for most. When thinking

about people moving to Johannesburg from outside South

Africa, participants focused on illegal immigration involving

low-skilled migrants and its impact on public safety and

employment. Residents believe that more stringent border

Page 4 of 41

controls should be introduced and that the authorities should

do more to prevent illegal migrants from entering the country.

In relation to migration to Johannesburg from rural areas,

many participants feel that this is putting increased pressure

on public services—especially as many uneducated migrants

are struggling to find work in the city. To tackle the problem,

residents want government to make rural living a more

attractive option by creating more job opportunities outside

Johannesburg and improving the infrastructure in rural areas.

During the event, we challenged participants to explore

learning and education, health care and issues around inmigration

from the perspective of either a taxpayer, a user

of services or a citizen. By adopting one of these roles and

exploring these issues, participants developed a more holistic

understanding of the complexities and conflicting perspectives

around public service delivery. People found it easier to think

of themselves as citizens rather than taxpayers or service

users because of the parallels between the citizen perspective

and the classical African concept of ubuntu—an ethic or

humanist philosophy focusing on people's allegiances and

relations with each other.

• As citizens, participants tended to focus on the “greater

good” and how government can tackle long-term, complex

social issues, such as poverty, sustainable development and

growing income disparities. They expect government to deliver

high-quality, accessible public services that benefit everyone.

• As service users, participants expect public service

organizations to improve access to services by reducing

waiting times and agencies working together so that people

do not have to go to a range of different offices to get the

support they need. They also want customer service and

expect front-office staff, such as nurses, teachers and call

center workers, to be more mindful of their needs and to treat

them with respect. They also want dramatic improvements in

service quality; examples include smaller class sizes and faster,

more effective police response.

• As taxpayers, residents believe that government should

improve the efficiency of organizations and spend public

money more wisely by enabling the public to scrutinize

spending decisions, reducing corruption and concentrating

spending on issues that matter most to citizens.

Johannesburg’s principles of public value

Participants in the Johannesburg Forum recognized that

specific outcomes and the mechanics of delivery for different

service areas will vary greatly. Even so, during the course of

the event they formulated a set of principles that they believe

should guide service delivery across all public services. These

principles seek to address what participants perceive to be

the current shortcomings in public service delivery and are

essential if government is to improve the quality of people’s

lives in the city.

• Fairness for all. All citizens should be able to access public

services that meet their basic needs, regardless of their

community, their current circumstances or their ability to pay.

• Customer focus and flexibility. Public service organization

employees should focus on improving customer service and

providing customers with services that meet their individual

needs and circumstances.

• Honesty, transparency and accountability. Citizens have

a right to know how spending priorities are determined,

how government contracts are awarded and what steps

government is taking to reduce corruption and waste. By

enabling the public to scrutinize government spending,

decision makers will be more accountable and spending will

reflect the real needs of citizens.

• Connectedness and coordination. To address complex social

problems and enable sustainable development government

should encourage public service organizations, businesses,

nongovernmental organizations and other agencies from

different sectors to find ways of collaborating more effectively

to make services more integrated.

• Accessibility. Public services must be easily accessible.

This requires government to reduce waiting times, subsidize

services for those who cannot afford them and extend public

services into parts of the city that are poorly served by them.

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