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Despite important investments, educational outcomes in South Africa still have a long way to go. From programmes targeting early-childhood development to life-skill workshops, we discussed EU involvement in the country with Arno Schaefer, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation.
Health clinic in Nigeria
Each year, nearly 100 million people find themselves pushed into extreme poverty because of health-related expenditures. Capacity4dev spoke to health programme managers at the EU Delegations to Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa and Timor-Leste to find out what each country is doing to address the issue, and how the EU is supporting these processes.
vocational ed South Africa
Many children fall through the gaps in South Africa’s education system. Only half of learners in Grade 1 make it to Grade 12, and many fall short of exam requirements. The EU has been supporting South Africa’s Departments of Basic Education and Higher Education and Training since 2004 to move towards inclusive education for all, with specific measures to support learners with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds. Capacity4dev hears about a programme providing books for every child; the rise of full-service schools; and improving vocational education.
teacher with pupil
A crucial element in creating an inclusive education system is training its teachers – which is where the bulk of the EU’s budget support for education in South Africa goes. One teacher education programme in Soweto is experimenting with a new model, bringing primary school children onto a university campus. It creates a much-needed quality primary school in an under-served area, and bridges theory and practice for the student teachers.
Randomised control trials in South Africa have repeatedly shown that in-cash social transfers made to families with young children can have significant long-term positive impacts on the lives of those children and the future economic prospects of a country. Children in households receiving payments are typically taller, healthier and better educated and as a result grow into economically more productive adults.
South Africa is sometimes known as “the gay heaven” of Africa, where same-sex marriage is legal and human rights for all are enshrined in the post-Apartheid Constitution. But there is a gulf between the legal framework and the LGBTI community’s lived experience. Discrimination and brutal hate crimes continue, especially in rural areas. ZwaKala is an EU-funded programme implemented by Iranti-org which builds local capacity to document and report on hate crimes and human rights violations.
Joblessness is a longstanding challenge for South Africa where the unemployment rate is 26% - officially. Off the record it’s closer to 40%, according to Milly Chesire at the EU Delegation in Pretoria, and hits 70% among historically disadvantaged persons (HDPs). This group is made up of black South Africans, women and people with disabilities, and it is these people the EU is helping the South African government to reach with funding for small and medium-sized enterprises via the Risk Capital Facility. Capacity4dev visited Americandy, a confectionary business in Johannesburg, to see how it works.
Development projects and programmes aim to change lives around the world using various methods from technical assistance to capacity development. But what actually happens when a project ends and the money is withdrawn from one day to the next? What legacy does the EU leave behind? Dr Ramneek Ahluwalia, Country Director and Head of the Higher Education and Training HIV/AIDS (HEAIDS) Programme in South Africa shares his experiences, including how he overcame financial cutbacks and near collapse, to oversee one of South Africa’s best success stories. 
 When you think about development challenges, a lack of trained accountants might not immediately come to mind. Yet poor public sector financial management is often at the root of patchy service delivery in other sectors, from health and education to transport. South Africa recognised this underlying issue, and with EU support embarked on a capacity development programme.
Last October, Marcus Cornaro left the Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) to take up a new post as Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa. In this interview he shares some of the challenges of working in a graduating country and how South Africa can serve as an example to the region.

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