When it comes to the successful implementation of the broad-based action plan that constitutes the current National Development Plan (NDP), achieving the intended goals and outcomes will require creating a national environment that is conducive to promoting a collaborative effort towards a shared vision.

Key to this type of environment is establishing a common understanding that all citizens’ rights are protected and each one of us has an opportunity to contribute towards driving the transformation of the nation.

In developing this focused environment, it is important that due consideration be given to understanding the system interdependencies and reciprocities between government, the private sector and their relevant strategic social partners.

Here, enabling education to make the valuable contribution it can make towards this active development commitment will play a critical part in unlocking the significance and power of these interdependencies.

It is widely acknowledged that education is key to unlocking people’s potential to create prosperity as individuals and collectively as a nation, however for education in South Africa to fulfil its role in achieving this goal, it is critical that a definition of how it will become such a significant socio-economic driver be formalised and actioned.

However, that being said, success in delivering on the NDP objectives is dependent on alignment around the actions that need to be taken, with all role-players taking responsibility for their part in making the plan work by achieving those aligned objectives.

Following an earnest commitment by public and private stakeholders to action what needs to be done, the education sector can map out a realistic way forward in driving the desired future growth and development of the nation and its people.

Going forward, role-players will need to agree on and formalise a series of specific actions built on a common development focus, to ensure reciprocal relationships are fully defined so that the role of education in the national development process can be clearly established.

A clear NDP action plan with defined roles means that at tertiary level, universities will be able to effectively bridge the much-debated gap between academic theory and the practical application of learning.

In so doing, this will allow universities to tap into their rich research reserves with the aim of transforming curricula to be more relevant and based on real world requirements, thereby delivering highly capable graduates who are equipped and enabled to immediately contribute to the achievement of the country’s priority socio-economic outcomes.