Facilitator's Notes & Guide

 

 

 

Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle merite.
Every country has the government it deserves.

Josephe de Maistre 1753-1821
French writer and diplomat

 

 

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.

 If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
 

President Nelson Mandela

(The Father of South Africa [1918-2013] )

 

 


 

ONE: Note To You

Thank you for taking time to read this. I hope that when you see the benefits of this programme, and the potential affect it can have on young minds, you will agree with me that teaching some form of Civics, with public finance related concepts so that students can see how the process of modern democracy works, can easily change an entire generation around. People in many societies around the world need to take responsibility for what is essentially theirs.

The challenge is to break the Us-Them mindset. We cannot have citizens of SA saying that "the government" is responsible, or it is "their problem, not mine". No such reality exists. As you well know any government is in place only because the citizens put it there, and in Module One the learner is taken on a journey from ancient Greece to modern South Africa, so that they can see how direct democracy has been adapted so that most modern countries have a Representative Democracy. This means, as you know, I am sure, that the citizen "hands over the power" to elected officials. But as we also all know, it is about money. And when citizens/students realise that it is their money they are giving to the government, they will realise that in fact they, themselves, own the country and the services, etc.

I was privileged to pilot the Public Finance N5 course at Cape College in 1995. I was new, the students had no idea what it was about, and we all treaded very lightly with each other the first week or so. But when I suddenly realised what the curriculum was teaching - the core essence of it - I really got excited. I used to walk into class each day and say:

"Did you hear a siren today?"

"Yes," they would say.

"Well, it's money out of your pockets...!"

Of course it was easy to ask this question in downtown Cape Town - there were sirens all the time!

I used practical examples of how much things cost - such as the cost of a prisoner each day (R60 000 p.a.). The amount of money injected into the economy with the visit of each tourist (approx. R20 000). I found that when they understood how money (their money) could be wasted, and how it could be used to make things happen, they also got excited. It can be a wonderful exercise to ask the students to bring examples to the classroom/lecture-hall. To find out, themselves, what things actually cost - such as the loss of a newly trained doctor to another country, for instance. This programme will work only if the Facilitator - you - are really prepared, but also if the delegate/student does most of the work!

I love the quote by President Mandela above. It speaks to me because I realised that when students finally understood that it was they who had both the power AND the money, they wanted to be far more involved. They wanted to make a difference. In fact one of my original students at Cape College went on to promote the concept of good governance and public finance on the radio, and later became a part-time lecturer at False Bay College.

Money talks. Always. That's why public finance is so practical. When people realise that if we could halve the corruption in SA, it could mean a 50% increase in the Education Budget: that talks to them. When they learn that it costs R5000 a month to keep a prisoner alive, and then realise that he/she is adding nothing to the economy, so that cost is actually more than double that, that talks to them! That makes them angry. And angry citizens often do something! In the past severe civil disobedience meant burning government buildings, vehicles, etc. People did NOT realise that it was costing them - they still lived in an Us-Them world paradigm. It is critical for this type of thinking to stop. And this can only be done through information.

And this is the purpose of education -  to educate, as we know means to draw meaning, understanding, reaction out of the learner. To get them to "see" a truth from within themselves, by providing them with the correct information. I believe it is the only way to turn South Africa around to be a truly great country. To make service delivery meaningful, and to make the learner take responsibility: to know that if they communicate and talk to their elected officials, these officials are obliged to listen.

I think the need for Civics Education in South Africa is critical. I believe it should be introduced in schools as an essential subject offering.

And this programme is a start. I hope to introduce it into as many schools as possible, and for it to be a launching pad to convince education authorities that a broader Civics curriculum belongs both in the primary and high schools.

I apologise for the fact that the videos below, as well as many others in this programme were produced outside of SA. I hope you will join me in looking forward to the day when we, together, will produce our own programmes that will help South Africans become better, more efficient, and happier citizens of our wonderful country.

They are excellent, though, and I do encourage you to watch them:

 

 

Richard Dreyfuss, Academy Award winner and star of American Graffiti, Jaws, The Goodbye Girl & Mr Holland's Opus, reaches an interesting conclusion about a country where Civics teaching is neglected: that it is self-destructive. He talks of America as being a "political miracle" and that the only "ones who don't know this are our (their) children."

I think this is also true of South Africa: it is a political miracle. But our school going generation of kids are not taught how to cherish this, and how to work effectively within this framework. Civics should be doing the job. And this online training course goes some way towards assisting with this...

 

 

 

TWO: Goals

  • to make people aware of the history and purpose of modern democracy;

  • to empower each person so that they will go into their communities and empower others;

  • to allow people to reach an understanding of the importance of their vote, and participation in their community, at local government as well as national;

  • to engender a sense of not only responsibility but also excitement at being vital members of a modern democratic system;

  • to show people how to take part-ownership of public facilities, systems and structures that their votes and money have helped build.

 

 

THREE: Methodology & Objectives

  • use the student's own experience to illustrate a point: allow as much as possible for them to present their own examples from their own life-experience. When illustrating the cost of something, such as the cost of keeping a prisoner alive (R60 000 a year) - ask what they could do with that money in their own community. This brings home the real cost. And motivates them to perhaps do something about it.

  • use the bold questions in the modules, also in italics, as opportunities for discussion, discovery and an opportunity to hear the different views of all delegates.

  • use positive reinforcement, such as thanking students for their contribution, to instil a sense of their being important to the process of discovery, and their eventual realisation of how important their person, their vote and their tax contributions are.

  • as far as possible debate both sides of any argument, an ethical situation, or a system of service provision. This is especially so in the following sections: Module Three - Summary of Services, and Sources Of Income,  Module Two - Democratic Principles for Public Financial Control.

 

FOUR: Content & Outcomes

 
Section

Notes to You the Faciliator...

   
Introduction

Contract

 

Are government issues my issues?

 

The Contract is for both when the student is working alone and in a group. In many cases I have asked them to debate, think of an issue or make a list or illustration - the contract makes an attempt to persuade them not to scroll down for the answers, but to come to some conclusion before they do so. It also asks them, particularly when are in a group, to respect the views of other participants, making sure they understand that people come from many different cultures and walks of life.

The second part is a challenge and the purpose is to entice the student into realising that in fact what the government does or decides is very much their business. I ask a few questions that hopefully prompt this realisation.

 

  PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL QUESTIONS ARE PRESENTED/ASKED IN BLACK, ITALICISED  FONT.
 

Module 1

What governments believe

 

Various ideologies are investigated. NR: the video is well worth watching.

The main purpose here is to show how difficult it might be to adopt one ideology over another. Students are encouraged to "design" their own state, having seen the origins of  both the LAISSEZ-FAIRE and the Economic Welfare state. They are also encouraged to accept that governments might lean one way or the other, depending on service delivery and needs (Module Three).

 

   
 

 

 

Module 2

Democracy is it!

 

The origins of democracy in Greece, and how through the ages various cultures, and nation have used democratic principles to demand change - The French Revolution, The Boston Tea party, and the Original Magna Carta.

Students are encouraged to write down principles they feel they might want to see in a fully functioning democracy. The excellent video, Growing Participation & Deliberative Democracy will give them some idea of how nations try to incorporate the needs of society in their governing principles.

Here, for the first time, they are encouraged NOT to scroll down until their list is finished. The Facilitator will have to encourage them not to do so: it is important to realise that the course if not about knowing more than another delegate - it is about discovery.

True Signposts of Democracy follows - students should be encouraged to give their own examples, or to say where their government fails in this regard. You will have to decide how long you wish to spend on this section as experience has shown me that delegates have interesting life-experiences to share at this point. On the other hand one does not want to labour a point or use too many examples. One of the most important sub-sections is the last: Citizen Participation - this should open the door to Responsibility and part-ownership which is primarily what this training programme wishes to encourage in each delegate. It also leads them to realise why we have a Participatory democracy, rather than a direct one - simply because each citizen does not have the time to take part in every decision. Participatory democracy, of course, opens the door to corruption, as someone else takes the citizen's power (their vote) and their money and often (not always) makes decisions behind closed doors. How can a society avoid this, or make sure their elected officials act according to their mandate only? - this is the challenge facing all democracies and citizens in every country around the world. Students often volunteer interesting ideas.

They are challenged next to "draw" an illustration showing various elements within a democracy: Ideology, citizens, elected officials, constitution, power...

Try to encourage them to do so without clicking on the link to see the illustration I have made. Praise them for the their efforts.

The issue of Accountability and Public Accountability is next. Many students will have examples within their community, or nationally. This often leads to heated debate and interesting input. Encourage this. There is also a video that concerns this issue: Ushering In The Age of Accountability.

They are then asked to list a few Democratic Financial Principles. The entire course now focuses mainly on MONEY. Incorporating Public Accountability, for instance - what do they see as important within a democracy when it comes to money, finances, taxes, public spending, officials, service delivery, etc?

Once again, do not let them scroll down before they have compiled a list.

The table with the Principles once again offers much opportunity for debate. I have introduced the column: Ethical Situation & Debate - over to you!

You might want to ignore some of the situations, and introduce your own. Even more exciting is to allow the student to think of their own situational dilemma!

This module ends with the challenge to realise that the government is us - we are the government! Students should realise that unless they take responsibility, the government they elect could run the risk of acting alone and could ignore the needs of their community.

 

  PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL QUESTIONS ARE PRESENTED/ASKED IN BLACK, ITALICISED  FONT.
 

 

 

Module 3

So what does a government do?

Here we see that governments try to use their ideology and the principles of modern democracy to satisfy service delivery. The video, You And Public Finance Management, tries to show that any government has in income and expenditure account, just as any family.

The questions are designed to challenge, and also make them realise that they should be taking part. They are asked to list three Types of Services - once again encourage them not to scroll down until they have made a list.

Order and Protection and then Social Welfare are presented. They are encouraged to make a list of the Social Welfare categories - once again please ask them not to scroll down until they have made a list, or offered examples in the class.  I encourage them, once again, to think of a third type of service.

As fitting the theme of the course, I am wanting to focus on the financial aspect.

The Summary Of Services provide an excellent opportunity for research. How much does it cost the government (them) to train a doctor. What does Tourism add to the GDP? Would it be cost effective to close down most prisons - is it worth the R60 000 p.a. to keep each prisoner alive - how could this be better controlled financially? There is much opportunity for debate here.

The video depicting Pravan Gorhan gives some insight into the present government's ideology and intentions; it might also help the student to see how difficult service delivery can be.

The Sources of Income for the national  government can also give rise to debate, and some interesting ideas. I ask them the qquestion, If your present government did away with Personal Income Tax, where would you suggest they get the funds from...?  I am hoping they might offer some interesting ideas, such as the abolition of personal tax, and perhaps a 35% VAT - this of course has huge advantages and disadvantages.

The Sources of Income are then listed; they should know that rates, etc. change from year to year.

This leads to The Budget - the video explains how this process might take place.

Finally I present the illustration I asked them to do in Module Two, and end with the challenge that they should take part-ownership of every public facility around them. They should realise the mantra of this course - that if something goes wrong, it's money out of their pockets! If they can help create a more accountable, effective local or national government, the money will start flowing back into their pockets.

In the end it is all about money and delivery. Making sure these work effectively can make the difference between a Zimbabwe, and a model country. I believe that knowledge of such processes can turn a whole generation around to make that difference!

And YOU can be a part of this.

Thank you for your participation and input.

Please email me with ANY suggestions or requests: mklerck@gmail.com

 

   

Please be aware that although many of the concepts in the programme may be familiar to you, this entire programme was test-driven by an Economics Professor who said there was much he was able to learn.

As the Facilitator, you need to be well versed and well prepared before going into "the lion's den." You will be surprised by the insight and observations of some of your students/delegates.

Be prepared...; be rewarded

 

 

I do wish you all the best in your mission to share this programme in your classroom or lecture hall.

I truly believe that only when we take part-ownership of our country, will we fully realise our purpose in South Africa - to help our local and national governments work as efficiently and as effectively as possible with the most effective finance applications that work for everyone. This task is in the hands of every voter, tax-payer and citizen - it is your job to make them realise this.

Remember, you are revealing essential truths to the very people who will one day be responsible for all that South Africa has to give its citizens, and the world in the future...; they are in your hands.

Good luck - please feel free to email me at any time with questions or ideas and especially with improvements!

Click on my photograph to contact me.

I am always available.


 

 

Introduction

Module One

Module Two

Module Three

 

 

 

 

 

NB: Public Finance College Sector Lecture's Guide to Public Finance N5/N6 textbook by Michael Klerck.

The full version containing chapters on Testing tips, Note-taking, Teaching, Classroom Etiquette, examination preparation and tips, etc., is not available from the publisher, but you may download this here...

 

Record of Marks for lecturer's of Public Finance N5 & N6 - Click Here.

For the Personal Budget spreadsheet in N6, Click Here.