INTRODUCTORY REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION, MRS ANGIE MOTSHEKGA AT THE PRESIDENTIAL INTERACTION MEETING WITH PRINCIPALS, ICC CENTRE, DURBAN.
07 AUGUST 2009
Honourable President J.G. Zuma
Fellow Ministers and Deputy Minister Honourable Premiers
Chairpersons of the Portfolio Commitees
Honourable MECs Honourable Mayors
The President of the South African Principals Association
Principals of our schools Leaders of organized labour, governing bodies and students Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Mr. President, let me start by thanking you for the leadership that you have provided, both to myself as the Minister of Basic Education, and to my Department. I am most heartened by the manner in which you continue to demonstrate your firm commitment to the improvement of our education system and your willingness to engage with stakeholders in the sector to ensure that we build consensus about how to proceed in education.
Mr. President, I was very excited when you announced in your State of the Nation Address that you wanted to meet with our school principals. The task team that we had established to make arrangements for this occasion has worked real hard to ensure that we have a representative sample of school principals present here today. The principals that are here come from all the corners of South Africa, from deep rural Limpopo to the urban centres of our provincial capitals, from well-resourced schools to those that do not yet have appropriate infrastructure, from large schools to small one teacher farm schools, from well performing schools to those that are not yet able to adequately serve our children. And I am told by my officials Mr. President, that there are many others who called to ask if they could join you here today, even if it meant that they had to dig into their own pockets to be here.
So there is great excitement in the education fraternity today, Mr. President. Not only from the principals gathered here, but also from the thousands of others who were unable to join us because of logistical and financial constraints. I also want to acknowledge the presence of the leadership of our partners in the labour movement SADTU, NAPTOSA, SAOU, NATU and PEU, and I want to thank them for the constructive manner in which they have responded to your call for this engagement with our school principals. I also want to acknowledge the presence of our SGB-federations here today.
Mr. President, I want to agree with you that a school stands and falls on its leadership. International research has shown that school reform depends fundamentally on the effectiveness of school leadership and the competence of school principals. Such studies have also shown that there is a direct relationship between the leadership of a school and learner performance. The weaker the leadership of a school, the poorer are the results of learners.
We know that it is near impossible to turn around a poor performing school without the intervention of a talented leader, supported by a team of like-minded colleagues. While other factors within the school also contribute to such turnarounds, leadership is the catalyst. And it is for this reason that school principals are critical to the improvement of our levels of learner performance. School principals are a key weapon in our arsenal to turn under-performing schools around.
With my colleague Deputy Minister Enver Surty, in the Medium Term Strategic Framework, we have committed the department to create conditions for effective school management. The department is committed to providing principals with training and administrative support to enable them to carry out their responsibilities of managing schools – which includes providing leadership, promoting high levels of achievement, assessing the school’s effectiveness, providing guidance to professional staff on education matters and promoting the efficient use of the resources of the state.
As part of our concerted efforts to bring quality in our education, we can announce that we are currently working on our national curriculum review and will be ready with the report end of September. This exercise is not meant to change our curriculum statement because we firmly believe that what we have is a modern, creative, innovative and just brilliant curriculum statement but we are engaging with different stakeholders to establish challenges facing them in managing, implementing and assessing the curriculum and also receive suggestions on how to improve it. As leaders in the education field, we have agreed with the different MEC’s that we will definitely implement some of the recommendations by January 2010 and the rest within two years.
Mr. President, again let me thank you for your leadership, your commitment to education and your passion for our children and for our country. I now invite you to address us.
I thank you