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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.”

 

Intermediate Phase CAPS training underway

The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for the Intermediate Phase (grades 4 to 6) and Grade 11 will be introduced in all schools in 2013, and already the system is being prepared for this important change to the curriculum. 

 

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is currently orientating hundreds of  provincial and district subject advisors, for all subjects, on the changes that will be introduced so that implementation of CAPS in schools is strengthened.

 

 

Following the introduction of CAPS in the Foundation Phase and Grade 10 this year, preparations are progressing swiftly to ensure that the introduction of the second phase goes smoothly in 2013.

 

The DBE has gathered subject advisers for the Intermediate Phase from every district across South Africa in Johannesburg for the Orientation Programme. These advisers will then go on to orientate teachers to the content, assessment, teaching methodology, resources and management of classrooms in CAPS in their own districts.

 

More than 1000 Intermediate Phase subject advisers, from all nine provinces, are being orientated in this process, which is scheduled to last for four weeks. Provinces have been clustered into groupings of three to ensure that the training runs smoothly and so that enough time is spent on practical application of what the changes will mean to teachers in the classroom.  The training is held over five days per week.

 

The DBE has developed a manual and resource pack that is issued to  each subject adviser , which is to be used for training the teachers.

 

“There will be one orientation manual for each subject, which the subject advisers will use for training and pass on to teachers in their districts,” said Ms Jenny Kinnear, Director for Schools Curriculum, General Education and Training.

 

“We are trying to avoid dilution of the message that needs to go to all teachers on the requirements of CAPS as well as ensure that the same policies and materials are used in schools.  There will be no localisation of these manuals.”

 

“In this way principals and school management teams will receive the same information on CAPS so that the management of CAPS is strengthened too.  In fact all stakeholders involved in the training and support of teachers will have the same manual and requirements that will be used to effectively implement CAPS.” 

 

At the same time, DBE FET subject advisors are doing the orientation of their provincial and district subject advisors for all subjects in Grade 11.  By the end of their three week orientation, they would have orientated close to 2 100 officials across all provinces. 

 

For the first time, the DBE has experienced high levels of confidence and commitment from provincial and district officials as they prepare to go out and support teachers. 

 

The Department of Basic Education aims to have every Intermediate Phase teacher in the country trained and prepared for the introduction of CAPS before 2013. To ensure that teachers are sufficiently trained, the DBE will be sending out monitoring teams to ensure that training takes place at a district level and inputs from these visits will be used to further strengthen training for the introduction of CAPS in the Senior Phase, which is scheduled for 2014.

 

Images from the event:

 


Copyright: Department of Basic Education 2014