Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the Vaal Matric Awards ceremony, Veereniging, 13 February 2009
Programme Director- Councillor Tsokolibane
Executive Mayor of the Sedibeng District – Councillor Mofokeng
Executive Mayor of Emfuleni Municipality – Councillor Mshudulu
Speaker of the Sedibeng District Municipality – Councillor Mokgotsi
Members of the District and Local Municipalities
Principals of Schools, Teachers and Learners
Thank you for inviting me to share with you in the celebration of the first-ever Vaal Matric Awards.
It’s important that we recognize excellence.
Many of us fail to encourage schools and learners to strive to be best.
The subject of education requires intensive reflection by all learners, teachers and community members. It is vital that we challenge the notion that our schools are doomed to under-perform.
The imprint of our history has left an unfortunate set of beliefs in our society. One of them is that we don’t have the ability to succeed and be the best. Another is that that key to excellence lies outside our communities, outside our schools. We have a solemn duty to destroy these myths.
Celebrations such as this one help us to challenge negative myths.
These awards will encourage our communities to aim higher.
In 2008 learners wrote the first National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
The new curriculum is important for two reasons.
We no longer have the discrimination of higher and standard grade.
Before 2008 provinces wrote different exams. Now all learners write national exams.
A new curriculum was developed for a number of reasons.
To streamline subject offerings and remove outdated subjects while introducing new ones.
To add skills analysis and critical problem solving as the core objectives of learning.
To keep up with curriculum changes worldwide.
To integrate new values and approaches into the curriculum.
International reviews, such as the OECD review of our education system, have noted the progress that we have made with curriculum transformation.
The OECD review highlighted policies and practices that we need to improve to ensure that we achieve the outcomes that we have set for ourselves.
One of our most critical challenges is the expansion of access to quality education for all children of our country.
Our resolve is to ensure that every child in our schools has meaningful opportunities for learning. Our aim is to improve the reading, writing and numeracy skills of children in our education system.
This must begin at primary school and be a focus at all levels of the system.
Earlier this year we launched a quality learning and teaching campaign and publicised a “Code for Quality Education”. I call all stakeholders and partners to take part in the campaign – “in school, on time, teaching”.
This campaign requires all of us, that is, governmental officials, teachers, learners, parents and communities to take responsibility for improving the quality of education. We need to mobilize communities to monitor and support schools, teachers and learners to contribute to the improvement of the quality of education for all children, especially the poor.
I’m pleased that the Sedibeng District Municipality has launched the Vaal Matric Awards.
The close proximity of municipalities with communities make you the single most important agents for improving the quality of education in schools in our regions.
I challenge our councillors, as representatives of the people, to mobilize communities to support the development of our schools. We need to revalitise our schools and ensure that young people in our communities attend school. Together we can improve the education services the state provides for our children. Let us re-energise the system and improve our accountability.
Similarly, the interface between the district and local municipalities, the education district offices and schools is critical in the development of schools. In fact, the education district offices are central in the support of schools. They are the cog of the education system. They provide the essential support to schools. It’s critical that the officials of the Sedibeng West District ensure that you visit and support schools regularly.
The Vaal Matric Awards are an important new step in building success in education.
I would like to make a suggestion.
We should set ourselves performance targets against which to measure progress in achievement.
Therefore, as we recognize the achievements of the class of 2008, we need to ensure that the class of 2009 does better. The benchmark is 60.11% for Sedibeng West District.
To this end, we will also need to ensure that we analyse the performance of learners in each of the subjects.
I challenge you to improve the number of over 50% learners. This can be done and it will be done.
Aristotle once said:
“Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because youth is sweet and they are growing.”
It doesn’t sound so elegant in translation, but I’m told that it sounds stunning in Greek. You get the drift. I am not saying that young people are drunk.
I congratulate you on the Vaal Matric Awards. Congratulations to the recipients of the awards. Use your achievement to better the future of our country and yourselves