Hon Speaker, hon members, government has scored a number of achievements in the past year and we are working hard to ensure that we do even better. Informed by assessments of service delivery and building on the sterling work of previous administrations, we set out to improve government performance when we came into office as the fourth administration. We decided to establish new government departments, to split some and to refocus others. The process has been completed.
We undertook the reconfiguration of government in order to fast-track service delivery. We then began the process of changing the culture of work by introducing more measures to ensure accountability. That is why we have a performance, monitoring and evaluation system in place to reorientate senior public servants into the new way of doing things. We have had several meetings with directors-general and their deputies, municipal managers, school principals and others. We will meet other groups of public servants later this year. We have also established the National Planning Commission which has begun its work. Therefore our systems are now in place.
Looking back, the work done so far reveals several achievements amongst government departments. Owing to time constraints, I will mention just a few. We are continuing with the campaign to improve the delivery of basic education. As members are aware, we want teachers to spend at least six and a half hours a day in school teaching classes. There are some areas of education which we want to focus on more. A key example is sports development, especially given the legacy of the Soccer World Cup. We want each school to offer at least two or more sporting codes. There must be no school that does not have sports facilities for soccer, rugby, netball, hockey, tennis, athletics, cricket and swimming. [Applause.]
We are also working to eradicate the division between rural and urban schools. The Departments of Basic Education, Rural Development and Land Reform, Public Works, Water and Environmental Affairs, and Transport are working together to improve conditions in rural schools. With regard to higher education and skills development, during 2009 the sector education and training authorities registered over 17 000 artisans for training. More than 100 000 workers completed training in scarce and critical skills through learnerships, apprenticeships and other learning programmes.
We have mentioned before the need to strengthen local government. In December 2009 Cabinet approved the Local Government Turnaround Strategy, a road map for municipalities. Every municipality in the country must now develop its own specific turnaround strategies and implementation plans. The Local Government Training Academy will be revived so that new councillors who come in after the 2011 local government elections will be better prepared to discharge their responsibilities effectively. The academy will also assist in retraining municipal employees. We are also reviewing legislation, which impacts on local government, as part of revitalising this sphere. The affected legislation is the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, the Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act and the Local Government: Municipal Finance Management Act.
Still in this area of local governance, we have established a department of traditional affairs. We have identified a need to harmonise working relations between traditional authorities and local government structures. In this regard, we have directed the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs to arrange a summit between traditional leaders and municipal structures.
We are successfully revitalising our health care system. The intention is to immunise 15 million children between the ages of six months and 15 years against measles, and to vaccinate 5 million children under five years of age against polio. We have developed clear strategies in each province to strengthen the country's anti-tuberculosis programme.
Last month we also began the implementation of the new HIV and Aids treatment and prevention guidelines. This includes, among other things, the provision of antiretroviral treatment to pregnant women with a CD4 count of 350 or less, and to people co-infected with tuberculosis and HIV with a CD4 count of 350 or less. HIV-positive pregnant women are now receiving dual therapy from 14 weeks of pregnancy and not 24 weeks, as was previously the case.
The treatment of HIV and Aids and TB is being integrated and these diseases will be treated under one roof. We have initiated the largest HIV counselling and testing campaign ever undertaken. All 17 sectors represented on the SA National Aids Council have thrown their weight behind this campaign. Several private sector service providers have also come on board to support us. We are pleased to be making an impact in implementing these measures which we announced on World Aids Day last year.
We are making visible progress in improving our Home Affairs systems. Some of the new measures will greatly enhance the entry of passengers during the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament. Among these, we have introduced an advanced passenger-processing system for airlines flying into South Africa. This enables the screening of passengers before they depart for South Africa. We are also pleased that the passport backlog has been eliminated. [Applause.]
In another development, refugee reception centres now issue asylum seekers permits within a day. [Applause.] Previously, it took a week to issue the permit. Most importantly, we have implemented a successful programme to connect 142 hospitals to the Department of Home Affairs' systems to enable new births to be registered before babies leave the hospitals. [Applause.]
With regard to economic development, as you are aware, we launched the Industrial Policy Action Plan in February 2010. The plan was adopted by Cabinet following widespread consultation with business, labour and civil society. The plan should help us to significantly expand our industrial capacity and promote job creation. To enhance the creation of decent jobs further, we are making progress in recruiting foreign direct investment in a targeted manner. Targeted countries include China, India, Russia, Brazil, Japan, the United States of America and countries in Europe and the Middle East.
The work programme should translate into an investment of R115 billion worth of projects over the next three years. As part of the critical effort to overcome the economic marginalisation of South Africa's majority, we have established the Black Economic Empowerment Advisory Council. This was long overdue.
We are pleased to report that since its inaugural meeting in February, the council has begun its work in earnest. At its meeting last week, members of the council emphasised the need to ensure that economic empowerment is indeed broad-based. It agreed that this consideration should be at the centre of the interventions that it will propose to government.
The meeting adopted the council's constitution which outlines, among other things, the powers, functions and administration of the council. The council has established four subcommittees, and these are: ownership and structuring of broad-based black economic empowerment deals; enterprise development, access to finance and procurement; human resource development; and legislation, charters, compliance and enforcement.
As the chair of the council, I am determined that it should make a tangible contribution to broadening economic opportunities for all our people. The second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme has made an important contribution to efforts to alleviate the effects of poverty on the unemployed. Over 604 000 work opportunities have been created through this programme. This has contributed to the construction and maintenance of infrastructure and the provision of valuable social services.
A significant achievement over the past 12 months has been the finalisation of plans for the country to successfully host the 2010 Fifa World Cup. With only two weeks to go before kickoff, we can confidently say that we are ready, as outlined in the Presidency Budget Vote speech and other recent departmental inputs.
Transport, stadiums, airports and other infrastructure projects are finished. Investment in additional resources for the police, disaster management, health and the immigration system will have a lasting impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of government to deliver services to the people.
Our greatest challenge in this country, hon members, is the persistence of high levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We are strengthening partnerships with various sectors such as business, labour, community and nongovernmental organisations because by working together we will achieve more. We also need to work with you, hon members, and all South Africans to improve citizen care in government and get our public servants to put people first. The Presidential hotline has been developed to contribute in that regard.
Working together, we will succeed in introducing a new culture of a caring and efficient public service. I thank you, hon Speaker. [Applause.]