GTAC’s fifth Public Economics Winter School took place from 17-19 August and was a rousing success with robust debate and discussion between participants, students and the numerous presenters.

The overarching theme of this year’s Winter School was Covid-19: Policy choices towards containment and recovery. University students, young economists, and a variety of attendees from various organisations participated in a jam-packed programme featuring notable speakers and access to presentations and panel discussions from public health and economics experts.

Day 1

The Winter School began with a keynote address from Professor Salim Abdool Karim. In his address, Prof Karim reflected on the events of the past eighteen months, and highlighted both the negative aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the positive lessons that can be taken from the experience. The remainder of day 1 was comprised of a series of presentations and panel discussions that considered the institutional and regulatory challenges faced by global governments during the pandemic, unpacked the response from a human right’s perspective, reflected on the South African disaster response and  looked at the Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

Day 2

Day 2 focused on how the South African government responded to the pandemic. The effect of the pandemic on employment, education and on vulnerable groups was explored. Emphasis was placed on the gendered impact of the pandemic and on what was done to safeguard the livelihoods of the vulnerable including children and the informal sector.

Day 3

Day 3 focused on impact of the pandemic on the economy. Presentations outlined the impact on the tourism and leisure sectorwine industry and agriculture industry, and the employment and business support measures introduced by government were analysed.

The Winter School culminated with the traditional student debates where the students took centre stage. The student debates are designed to introduce students to the realities of the complex questions faced by policy-makers and the process of weighing the available evidence and using financial modelling to inform decisions. The next WhatsUp will share the presentations prepared for the very entertaining and impressive student debates.

Acting Head of GTAC Lindiwe Ndlela said: “We are extremely proud of the standard of this year’s Winter School. The calibre of presentations was outstanding and the debate and discussion really focused on the nuances that policy makers have grappled with over the last 18 months. I am delighted that we as GTAC are able to provide this kind of exposure to students and emerging economists. This is one of the ways that GTAC lives its purpose of enhancing and building state capacity and I thank all those involved for making this year’s Winter School
The dedicated Winter School 2021 website houses all the presentations, and videos of the impressive student debates such a success.”