​The Social Cluster deals with the management of development cooperation to enhance delivery of social services and promote the progressive and sustainable realisation of socio-economic rights.

The priorities within the social cluster are based on the National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030 and the fourteen MTSF outcomes.

Development cooperation within this cluster contributes toward the following government outcomes:

​​Outcome 1:

​Quality basic education

​​Outcome 2:

​A long and healthy life for all South Africans

Outcome 5:

​A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path

​Outcome 13:

​An inclusive and responsive social protection system

​​Outcome 14:

​Nation Building and Social Cohesion

In a narrow sense, the social cluster targets the immediate needs arising from the widespread incidence of poverty identified in the NDP. In a broader sense, the social cluster seeks to create an enabling environment for sustainable development;










it is only when basic needs are satisfied that higher level interventions can be successful.

The NDP articulates nine elements of a decent standard of living. Amongst these, the social cluster directly addresses education and skills, healthcare, recreation and leisure. The cluster further plays a less direct role in safety and security, employment and nutrition. The following Departments are supported by the cluster in achieving government outcomes and attaining the elements listed above: Health, Basic Education, Higher Education and Training, Social Development, Sports and Recreation, Arts and Culture, and Labour.

 Development partners in the cluster support the following areas of intervention which are well-aligned to the NDP:

Promoting health​Improving education, training and innovation​Building Safer Communities (Safety of women, the girl-child, children and the youth)​​Transforming society and uniting the country

​​The National Department of Health has identified a number of strategic areas which are vital to the attainment of a holistic and well-functioning health system, as envisioned in the NDP. These include areas where development cooperation partners have been active such as: Primary healthcare re-engineering; health systems strengthening; piloting of and eventual implementation of the National Health Insurance; planning and management of human resources for health; strategic implementation of infrastructure development and maintenance initiatives; comprehensive and aggressive combating of HIV, AIDS, TB and other communicable diseases; mass mobilisation of communities and key stakeholders to promote better health outcomes for all; strengthening the manner in which information is generated and used to support planning, decision making, research and development processes.

​The NDP prioritises education, training and innovation as the top priorities, spanning early childhood development; primary, secondary, tertiary and further education; and central to these, teacher education and training.

Interventions in this cluster focus on curriculum policy support; teacher and human resource development (across all sub-sectors); institutional development; infrastructure support; and educational enrichment services.


The NDP identifies gender-based violence and the abuse of children (especially girls) as particular impediments to the realisation of equality and prosperity. In line with this observation, development cooperation has been utilised in the areas of Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention, child safety and security.

​​The NDP cites exposure to art and culture as key mechanisms for fostering social understanding, cohesion, inspiring creativity and innovation. In addition culture, the arts and other parts of the creative economy, have the potential to generate employment and export earnings.

Development cooperation is active in the promotion of access and provision of facilities to encourage participation in artistic, cultural, sporting and recreational activities.


Since 1994, there have been many social cluster programmes supported through development cooperation. These include programmes such as the Public Health Sector Support Programme, the Education Support and Training Project , assistance to the Victim Empowerment Programme, Community Arts Centres support,  Sport for Change, and the Labour Market Skills Development Programme amongst others.