This Sector Plan is an update to the Action Plan to 2014. It is a reflection of how far we have come in terms of planning service delivery, not just in basic education but in government as a whole. The sector plan encapsulates our response to the priorities, targets and programmes articulated in the National Development Plan, 2030; and provides a detailed five year plan and fifteen year targets and programmes for the whole Basic Education Sector.
The new Sector Plan replaces the 2014 Action Plan; which detailed programmes we had initiated in the previous cycle; and which were widely consulted in the Basic Education Sector. In the next few years, we will build on our successes in attaining the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) for access, participation, and gender equity. In the post-2015 period, the emphasis will be on quality of schooling outcomes, and on better preparation of our young people for the life and work opportunities after they leave school. We have, to this end, developed three streams of curricula (academic, vocational and technical), which address the diverse needs of young people for learning and development in our schools. We are working with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to better influence the quality and preparation of our teachers and ultimately, our learners, in critical subjects including mathematics, science and technology, and the African languages.
We have made progress in securing access and participation of our children to schools, and we have, through our own assessments and international assessments, shown that our schooling system is indeed making a difference to the lives of our young people. Completion rates are edging up; performance rates of our learners are increasing, especially for learners from poorer households; and retention rates have improved, especially in earlier grades.
A number of challenges in the sector still create barrier to the provisioning of quality education. These include inadequate school infrastructure, curriculum coverage and delivery, retentions, retrieval and usage of learner and teacher support materials, amongst others. Our focus is to reposition the Sector to deliver on the mandate for quality and efficient schooling. We remain resolute in our quest to improve quality and efficiency throughout the schooling Sector, with a renewed emphasis on curriculum coverage, improving assessment and strengthening quality, efficiency and accountability in our schools, districts and provinces, as well as in our administrative departments and sectoral partnerships. Infrastructure development is being strengthened to adequately address school infrastructure challenges. We will use existing interprovincial and inter-governmental structures to more closely link policies, programmes and resources to impact on quality improvement in our system.
We are pleased that progress has been made in the work of the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), a structure designed to bring together leaders and innovators from the public and private sectors to find new ways of responding to complex problems in the sector. This plan provides details on just a few of the several initiatives already begun, or about to begin, under the NECT umbrella. It is our hope that the current plan will inspire, inform and guide the many men and women working for a better basic education in South Africa.