The Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the European Union (EU), Ambassador, Mr Roeland van de Geer signed an agreement to launch the Primary Education Sector Policy Support Programme (PrimEDSPSP) in Cape Town this week, Tuesday 22 February 2011.
“We are indeed making history as we take part in the South African launch of the massive EU supported Primary Education Sector Support Programme whose overall objective is to contribute to improving learner performance in literacy and numeracy at primary school level” said Minister Motshekga in her remarks at the signing ceremony held at Parliament.
The improvement of the quality and levels of education outcomes in the schooling system is a top priority of both Government and the Department (DBE). The DBE has developed the Action Plan to 2014: towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025. This plan sets out key goals and strategies that aim to improve the quality of teaching in a systematic way, under the overarching goal of improved learner achievement. Through broad consultations with education stakeholders including teacher unions, the Department is assured of their commitment and support for the overall aims and approaches of the Action Plan.
The Department has set a target of improving numeracy and literacy attainment levels of Grades 3, 6 and 9 from the current average attainment levels of between 27% and 38% to at least 60% by 2014.
EU Ambassador, Mr Roeland van de Geer indicated that the €122,680,000 programme will help South Africa deal with some of the serious challenges that it is facing with regard to primary education in the country. Van de Geer also indicated that the funding for the programme is the largest single financial commitment to a programme within the Education sector in South Africa and one of the largest in the world.
The financing agreement of the Primary Education Sector Support Programme was negotiated and signed at the international launch of the support programme in Brussels in September 2010 on the fringes of President Zuma’s State Visit ahead of the third South Africa/European Union Summit.
Minister Motshekga added that the Department of Basic Education will be utilising part of the EU’s financial support to improve access to quality Early Childhood Development facilities, particularly for children in the poorest communities. In addition, the Department is also focusing on attracting more school leavers into the teaching profession, especially to teach Foundation Phase in indigenous languages.
The programmatic funding will assist the Department to intensify efforts for improved literacy and numeracy teaching in schools and meeting the goals set out in the Action Plan to 2014 and the Minister’s Delivery Agreement.
The Department has already put in place two key interventions in the primary schooling phase that we hope will have positive impact on literacy and numeracy achievements. These interventions clearly illustrate how this financial partnership has already borne fruit and will continue to enable effective sustainable interventions.
The first Annual National Assessments (ANA) in literacy and numeracy at Grades 3, 6 and 9 have recently taken place across South Africa. The ANA data will be used for both diagnostic purposes at individual learner level and decision-making purposes at systemic level.
In addition, all learners in Grades 1-6 throughout South Africa have received workbooks that focus on the strengthening of the critical foundational literacy and numeracy skills.
Moreover, the Department is already on track to meet and even exceed the targets of the EU Agreement and has already registered more than the targeted 63% for Grade R learners in 2011. The Agreement also committed the Department to registering at least 6 000 matriculants (with quality passes) to train as Foundation Phase teachers in 2011 and already more than 7000 candidates have registered.
The support of the EU has also enabled the Department to negotiate with all Higher Education Institutions to provide Foundation Phase teacher training – surpassing the aim of having at least seventeen Higher Education Institutions providing and developing Foundation Phase curricula and training programmes.
This partnership with the EU that is already bearing fruit through substantial key interventions provides all South Africans with an excellent reason to celebrate the Primary Education Sector Policy Support Programme. The programme will indeed assist the Department in achieving its core mandate of achieving quality education and improved learner achievement.