Priority essays

A recent editorial in one of South Africa’s dailies pointed out that a deeper look at the various political party manifestos revealed similarities among those contesting the elections. “Just how they plan to make these necessary reforms if given a chance, is the detail that appears to be lacking,” it said. Clear and well-crafted strategies that pay careful attention to poverty reduction and the education system in particular would be advised if leaders are to make promises a reality.

Paula Armstrong, Bongisa Lekezwa and Krige Siebrits are based at the University of Stellenbosch Department of Economics and authors of the working paper Poverty in South Africa: A profile based on recent household surveys.

Yet I want to answer that question. And I guess that’s part of the reason I’m writing this essay. I’ve accepted the fact that, right now, I simply don’t know who I’m going to be, and that it’s going to take some time before I can finally look around and think to myself, “I want to spend my life doing this.” But I’ve come to realize that college can serve as the catalyst that gets me there, the place where I can begin to learn and see the world on my own terms, and take advantage of the choices I’ve been blessed with the ability to make, when the same couldn’t be said about the generations that came before me. I know that with the freedom to study what I want to learn, I can pursue a career born, not out of necessity, but out of choice. I’ve been given the opportunity to change not just myself, but the attitude that my own family will have toward higher education, and the doors that it can open in their own lives.

I like this system because it seems to strike a good balance between overhead and outcome. Like AHP, it breaks the problem into small chunks that are easily considered. Unlike AHP, it defers decisions until they are actually required, and when more information is available. Thus, it’s also a bit like Rolling Wave Planning, in the small. Each decision is limited in scope, and only a portion of each decision makes a commitment. It minimizes the penalty of making suboptimal choices. It broadcasts the current state of understanding and delegates responsibility to the team with minimum overhead. These are all features that I want in a prioritizing process, so if there is a better scheme than this one, it will still have to meet this bar.

Priority essays

priority essays

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