Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, Deputy Minister, Enver Surty, MP and Director-General Bobby Soobrayan and senior management at the Department of Basic Education met with District Directors from each district across South Africa in Pretoria on Thursday 19 April, 2012, to strengthen education programmes and refine interventions in districts.
The meeting saw the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, Deputy Minister, Enver Surty and Director-General Bobby Soobrayan – as well as several Deputy Directors-General – engage in discussions with District Directors and senior managers from all 81 education districts across the nine provinces.
These 81 education districts have a pivotal role in ensuring that all learners have access to education of progressively high quality, since district offices are the link between the National Department of Basic Education, Provincial Departments of Education, their education institutions and the public.
“As District Directors, you play a crucial role as a direct link to schools,” Minister Motshekga told the meeting. “This is an important forum and the aim is really to hear from you -How we can improve; what we are doing right and what the issues are at district level”.
“You are at the coal-face of delivery, closer to the centre of our operation – the classroom. This meeting must help us renew the resolve clearly to work differently, to plan better, to prepare ourselves fully, better to run our districts and schools as centres of excellence,” added the Minister.
Minister Motshekga said the focal point of District planning has got to be on improved learner outcomes, effective delivery of LTSM to schools and effective filling of vacancies and utilisation of available teachers. The Minister emphasised the importance of District Improvement Plans.
Director-General Soobrayan shared this view, highlighting the District Improvement Plans as the key to effective management of schools which fall under each district.
“We want to all districts to focus on District Improvement Plans to the point where every plan is clear and focused on what action is needed and what will cause this action to happen,” said DG Soobrayan. “Everything we do must focus on our core business, improving learner performance!”
DG Soobrayan emphasised that planning and intervention cannot stop at statements, but plans must be implemented and followed through at district level, as they are key to the chain of implementation.
“Annual National Assessments are at the core of our interventions, but we must not be defensive about ANA results,” said the DG. “We cannot keep assessing and do nothing about the findings of these assessments. What a District does and any planning that happens should be based on these ANA results.”
The DG also pointed out that districts are key to teachers understanding the strategic importance of effective utilisation of Learning and Teaching Support Material in the classroom. He added that districts needed to strengthen procurement and supply of these materials.
“However, it is on the issue of Teachers on Task and on Time (TTT) that districts have probably the most vital role to play,” said Soobrayan. “Teacher attendance is key. Poor teacher attendance, combined with poor teaching leads to poor learner performance. We often find that districts are not applying the performance instruments available to them to deal with teachers who are not in class, on time and teaching.”
Under Minister Motshekga’s leadership, the Department has undertaken to prioritise and strengthen the administration of all education districts in order to reflect the vital role that they play in the education system and the critical link in the chain to ensure delivery of quality education takes place and to achieve the goals set out in the Delivery Agreement and the Action Plan to 2014: towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.
To this end, the Department published the Policy on Organisation Roles and Responsibilities of Education Districts, Gazette Notice 180 of 2012 on 05 March 2012 for public comment. This document provides a national framework for the organisation of education districts and outlines the delegated powers, roles and responsibilities of district officials for the institutions within their care. The policy expresses a national vision for education districts in the transformation of the education system, determines a standard nomenclature for district offices and personnel, determines flexible norms for education district and (where relevant) circuit boundaries and sizes, determines standardised roles, powers and responsibilities for district education offices and (where relevant) their circuit offices, determines norms for district post provisioning, and provides a normative guideline for the management and operation of district offices including the support they render to schools.
The document may be accessed on the Department’s website: www.education.gov.za
All interested parties are invited to direct their comments to:
The Director-General, Private Bag X895, Pretoria, 0001 (for attention: Dr F M Nzama) by 18 May 2012.
All enquiries may be directed to DR F Nzama email firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 012-3574163 fax 012 323 3253.
Images from the event: