Address by the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga at the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign business breakfast, Sandton Convention Centre, 01 October 2009
Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty
Members of Executive Councils of Provinces
Representatives of our sponsors for this breakfast (MTN,
Pricewatershousecoopers, Mafuri and Impact Strategic Services)
Members of the business community
Presidents of the Educator Trade Unions: SADTU, SAOU, NATU, NAPTOSA and PEU
Principal and SGB Chairperson of Kliptown Secondary School
Ladies and gentlemen
I am very pleased to address this important gathering which I hope will focus our minds on how we, as government, and the private sector can build long term partnerships and work together towards building a quality education system for all in South Africa .
It is true that the challenges facing South Africa in the building of a quality education system that will meet the country's needs cannot be done by government alone. Instead it calls for co-ordination at all levels: from school and community through district, province and national government and includes all stakeholders, including the private sector.
President Zuma, in his State of the Nation address, called on all of us to be involved in education and to make education everybody's business. The Zuma administration has declared education to be the top priority of this government and has also declared that we can do more by working together.
We consider the challenge of ensuring quality education as our key priority. It is well publicised that the numeracy and literacy performance of South African learners in cross-country comparative studies remains poor compared with several of our less well-resourced neighbours. This poor performance of many of our learners in the primary schooling system affects in turn the secondary phase, higher education performance, and ultimately people's access to the labour market. Business of course constantly reminds us that school leavers do not have the appropriate skills for the labour market and that we thus have a labour force that struggles to keep up with the high skill demands of the 21 st century. This is a critical weakness in our efforts to modernize our economy and to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor. Education, as we know, allows the poor to break the chains of poverty, underdevelopment and hardship. Without a high quality education many of our young people are doomed to lives of poverty.
In October 2008 the Department of Education, together with teacher unions, parents and other stakeholders launched the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign that has called on all individuals, organizations and communities to assume responsibility for improving the quality of education. Teachers, unions, school governing bodies, learners and the national and provincial education departments have commited to a Code for Quality Education which sets out the responsibilities and discipline required of them. Since then, school principals have also pledged their commitment to quality education.
The Campaign commits all in the education sector to a set of non-negotiables. Teachers must be on time, well prepared for all their lessons and teaching for six and a half hours every day. Learners must respect their teachers, attend school regularly and do their home work. Parents must supervise and support their children. Principals must manage their schools and ensure that teaching and learning happens on a daily basis. And officials must regularly visit schools and support the schools to do their work.
This event today gives me the opportunity to engage with representatives of the business community to ask you how you can get involved in this campaign to ensure that we turn the tide in education. How can you assist the campaign to promote and encourage adherence to the non-negotiables in education. Our government has created the enabling environment for successful partnerships with civil society including non-government organizations, faith based organizations, teacher unions, communities and the business community that are mutually beneficial and conducive to the improvement of education. I know that business indeed has vested interests in education as education contributes towards the development of human resources for economic development. We need to continue to strengthen the dialogue between business and government in this regard.
We acknowledge the role that business has played and continues to play in the support of government's education initiatives through their social responsibility programmes that contribute meaningfully to the strengthening of our delivery of quality education as a country. But we are now calling on you to sustain your support for education, not to limit support to sporadic initiatives or confined pilot projects, but rather large scale programmes integral to the process of system development. We are asking you to get involved in our Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign.
In partnership with MTN the campaign has now created the opportunity for South Africans to send their education good news stories directly to the Minister of Basic Education. Our education system is not in a crisis. There are small, but significant pockets of excellence in our system. It is important I think that we remind the media, who are always looking for the sensationalist failings in our very complex system, that in fact large parts of our system are functioning well. Comments on well functioning schools, or excellent teachers, can be SMSed to me using the phrase GOOD NEWS, followed by a remark to 32727. MTN will administer the initiative and each SMS will cost R1 merely to cover administration costs. Again, I want to extend my thanks to MTN.
It is through engagements such as this morning that we can build on existing partnerships, build new ones and address the educational challenges that continue to confront us as South Africans. In the words of President Zuma “ Education must be elevated from being a departmental issue, or a government issue, to a societal issue – one that occupies the attention and energy of all our people.”
I look forward to your views on how you can assist us to strengthen our Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign.
I thank you