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The Ministry of Basic Education and South Africa’s top business leaders engaged with President Zuma to receive feedback on the National Education Collaboration Trust’s progress in its efforts to urgently and significantly assist government in its efforts to reform education in South Africa. The discussion also covered the significant level of funding already raised to this end by the private sector which has been matched by government –  and a reminder that their target is R500 million per annum.

At a lunch briefing at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria on Friday morning, 22 August, President Jacob Zuma, the Minister of Basic Education and several other cabinet members met with some of Business Leadership South Africa’s (BLSA’s) key players, for feedback and dialogue on the progress of the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT). The President thanked big business for committing to the Education Collaboration Framework (ECF) and its implementation via the NECT. He also applauded the private-sector funding already pledged to the project – BLSA has agreed to commit 0.004% of their member companies’ market capitalisation annually, over three years, to the first phase of the NECT, rising to 0.008% as the programme rolls out nationally. Government is matching this funding rand for rand. Unions and NGOs are enthusiastically supportive. It’s effectively an educational Codesa.

Zuma stressed that multi-stakeholder engagement was crucial to the NECT’s chances of success – while government is primarily responsible for managing the educational process, he conceded that the NECT, an independent trust managed jointly by a diverse, representative group of trustees was in a good position to give the Department of Basic Education the help it needs to fast track the rehabilitation process.

As a pilot programme to implement Chapter 9 of the National Development Plan (NDP), the aim is undeniably ambitious: to transform South Africa’s basic education system to the point where 90% of learners are achieving pass marks above 50% in language, core mathematics and science. The achievement of these goals will take a collaborative effort across society, which is why the NECT is based on dialogue and consensus between all stakeholders – government, business, teacher unions, NGOs, community, traditional and religious leadership, and parents (through school governing bodies). By collaborating on planning and implementation, each will contribute to overhauling the education environment and the quality of teaching and learning within their own areas of competence toward an agreed plan.

In the meeting it was discussed how these different competencies are already operating in the eight districts – comprising of  4 362 schools (18% of the national total) – in which the project is being rolled out first. The ECF identified six discernible themes for action by the NECT: teacher professionalisation, courageous leadership, improving state capacity to deliver quality education, improving school resourcing, parent and community involvement and learner welfare. By tackling each theme with practical, implementable programmes and securing the buy-in of teachers, government, business and civil society, the NECT has already proved itself more than a talk-shop.

There was healthy and frank discussion between business and government with the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, reiterating the fact that the NECT has made huge strides in mobilising the private sector, as well as society and labour unions to take part in improving the quality of education in South Africa. 

President Zuma called on all the MECs and Ministers present to report back to him about what they have done to support the NECT in practical and tangible ways.  However, he also urged the assembled business leaders to continue BLSA’s drive to secure more committed funding. BLSA has set itself and its members a target of R200-R300 million in the initial, three-year phase of the NECT – funding that will be matched by government.  The NECT is managed and lead by an independent team of educationalists acting as a monitoring and evaluation board, to ensure that spending on interventions and training is as cost-effective as possible. This structure has boosted business confidence in the enterprise.

The bottom line, according to the President, is that fixing South Africa’s basic education system cannot be dismissed as “the government’s problem” by any serious business. This isn’t a case of feel-good gestures or the easing of social consciences – it’s an economic necessity. It is the centrepiece of the NDP. “We cannot grow the economy, or hope to provide economic opportunity to all our citizens, without radical improvement in the quality of education. Funding the NECT may count as corporate social investment, but it is really an investment in long-term business sustainability and economic stability.”

 

The long-awaited Annual National Assessments results are released

The Annual National Assessments (ANA) revealed an improvement in learner performance with regard to Literacy and Numeracy. This was inferred from the 2012 ANA results released by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, at Ipontshe Primary School, in Tembisa, on 03 December 2012.

Basic Education Director-General, Mr Bobby Soobrayan, Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Mrs Barbara Creecy, teacher unions, DBE officials and dignitaries from other departments, graced the occasion.

The results indicate that learner performance in the Foundation Phase (Grade 1, 2 and 3) are pleasing.

As compared to the 35% in 2011, the average learner performance in Literacy stands at Grade 3 stands at 52%, registering an improvement of 17% from 2011.  Meanwhile, the learner’s performance in Grade 3 Numeracy stands at 41% as compared to 28% in 2011. In Grade 6 the national average performance in Language is 43% (Home Language) and 36% (First Additional Language) as compared to 28% in 2011. “This is an improvement of 15% (Home Language), putting us on track with our 60% target of 2014,” said Minister Motshekga.

Speaking during the 2012 ANA release, the MEC, Barbara Creecy said that the Annual National Assessments was not only about the results, but also to provide guidance for all who are involved in improving the quality education to provide the necessary support where needed.

The Minister stressed that improving the quality of education is perhaps the most important development task confronting South Africa. “High-quality education, equally distributed, is one of the most effective and least conflictive ways of transforming a society. Remarkable advances have been made in access and equity in the schooling system since the 1994 democratic breakthrough. Net improvement rates have improved. Funding per learner has increased. The schooling system is more equitable”, she said.

Minister Motshekga also acknowledged that the implementation of ANA in the schooling system is a step in the right direction. The minister said that the ANA results will assist the Department as well as those who have a direct impact in SA education with information, so that their interventions are concentrated on the challenges which prevail within the system.

“While assessment by itself cannot improve learning, it provides important evidence to inform planning and development of appropriate interventions for improvement at all levels, from national through provinces and districts to individual schools,” added Minister Motshekga.

ANA results play a crucial role in helping teachers to find an effective mechanism to advance their teaching techniques, so that ultimately, all learners comprehend what they are being taught in class.  The learners’ ability to read, write and count, remain the paramount cornerstone in the classroom business.

“Following the release of the ANA results in June 2011, a national strategy to improve Literacy and Numeracy achievement in all schools was implemented. The Strategy assisted in ensuring that the quality of education is improved dramatically. It did this by strengthening the capacity of teachers to deliver the Literacy and Numeracy curriculum in particular. For all Managers in the sector(principals, district, provincial and DBE officials), this strategy helped in providing relevant and adequate support to both teachers and learners”, remarked the Minister.

Minister Motshekga stated that the Department will soon launch education partnerships, which will join forces in improving quality of education in the country. The Minister indicated that the initiatives will be strengthened through a clear and structured partnership with SGBs, education NGOs, international donors, education research institutions, business supporting education and other partners.

“In a nutshell, 2012 has been a very dramatic year showing that progress in education can be achieved through deliberate and purposeful action, encouraging us to consolidate our advances as we celebrate our achievements.”

“I would like to thank all MECs and HODs for their efforts. ANA 2012 would not have been possible without hard work on the part of provincial and district officials,” the Minister concluded.

 

 

Kindly follow the below links on the right for copies of the ANA Report as well as the guidelines for the interpretation and use of the ANA results.

Images from the event:

 


Copyright: Department of Basic Education 2014