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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.”

 

President Zuma launches Integrated School Health Programme

The much awaited Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) was launched on Thursday, 11 October 2012, by President Jacob Zuma, along with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty in Cullinan, Gauteng.

 

 

Strengthening of School Health Services through the ISHP is a key component of the Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) Programme within the Department of Basic Education. The Department of Social Development will be responsible for assisting learners to access services, particularly where financial barriers to accessing services are present. This includes providing transport to health facilities where necessary.

Speaking at the launch at Chipa Tabane Secondary School on Thursday, President Zuma said the programme forms part of the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme, which is in line with the World Health Organisation’s call for universal health coverage around the world regardless of people’s economic status.

“We will work through three pillars as part of initiating the NHI – in schools, municipal wards and in districts,” said President Zuma.  “Today we are launching the first pillar, health care in schools.”

“In promoting child and youth health we seek to correct a few shortcoming and problems.  Firstly, we have to deal with the problem of unhealthy diets and lifestyles.

Secondly, we want to focus on promoting child mental health. Thirdly it is the problem of high teenage pregnancies, which indicates a shortcoming in youth education.”

The Integrated School Health Programme will offer the following services:

  • Eyesight, hearing and oral hygiene;
  • Immunisation (for foundation and intermediate phases);
  • Deworming (for foundation and intermediate phases);
  • Treatment of minor conditions especially skin conditions (all phases);
  • Counselling on sexual and reproductive health issues and provision of services via mobile health units (all senior and FET learners, and intermediate learners where required); and
  • Prevention of drug and alcohol use and abuse.

The ISHP further aims to individually assess every learner once during each of the four educational phases. Additional individual assessments will be offered to all learners who are repeating grades, at the request of an educator or parent or of the learner him/herself.

Assessment during the foundation phase focuses primarily on identifying health barriers to learning, as well as identifying children who have or are at risk for long-term health, psychological or other problems.

Although the ISHP initially targets the most disadvantaged schools, the plan is that it eventually reaches all learners.

Images from the event:

 


Copyright: Department of Basic Education 2014