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13 June 2019
UWC launches resource to create youth awareness of the National Development Plan

(Published - 13 June 2019)

Throughout its 60 years of existence, the University of the Western Cape has gone from critical opposition of government to critically supporting a new South Africa. Now, in an attempt to help strengthen the country, several of the University’s academics have used research to propose the promotion of the country’s National Development Plan (NDP). The Plan is a blueprint for how South Africa can reduce inequality and abolish poverty by 2030.

Twenty-five years into our democracy, Professor Rouaan Maarman, Professor Juliana Smith, Professor Bhekumusa Khuzwayo and Dr Elizabeth Archer embarked on an extensive survey of more than 50 000 Grade 12 learners in the Western Cape. The project leader was none other than former UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian O’ Connell. The aim of the survey was to establish the extent to which awareness of the NDP had reached South Africans. The findings have been published in a book entitled, The Power of a Nexus in South Africa: National Development Plan Survey.

The researchers found that only 6% of the learners surveyed had some knowledge of the NDP. It is recommended that the youth be familiarised with the Plan as they are important stakeholders in South Africa, as demonstrated during the June 16, 1976 uprisings and the #FeesMustFall movements.

“Youth mobilisation has powerfully contributed to South Africa achieving a non-racial, democratic society and to pushing for critical examination of the curriculum and greater access to reduced fees for higher education. The youth thus represent themselves as powerful stakeholders relating to achieving the NDP goals,” the researchers noted.

UWC Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Tyrone Pretorius, said: "UWC continues to play an integral role in the national discourse in South Africa. This study is the first step in our intention to provide intellectual support to the endeavour of making the NDP a living document for a path of prosperity for our country."

Prof O’Connell explained that the NDP was launched in 2012.

“It is a plan which looks deeply into our past, present and future by drawing on the skills and energies of the nation to, amongst other things, develop a more inclusive economy,” he noted.

To commemorate the 1976 student uprisings, UWC is releasing the research ahead of June 16, 2019.

To gain access, visit:


For more information about the NDP:

  • In 2017 the National Research Foundation at the NRF presented Prof Brian O’Connell with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The lifetime achievement accolade is awarded only to those who have made extraordinary contributions of international standard and impact. Professor O’Connell was honoured as one of those rare people who dedicate themselves to education and development in their country and who act not only as role models for educators and communities, but also as initiators and inspirers of institutional change.