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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.”


SASCE 2013: DAY 4

Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga made a visit to the South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod on Friday, 5 July 2013, to enjoy the talent on display on the final day of the competition.

SASCE was on from 2-5 July and saw thousands of hopeful young learners coming together to compete against the cream of the crop. The learners engaged in moving solo and group performances at the Rhema Church in Randburg, Johannesburg, much to the delight of the audience members who packed the auditorium throughout the competition.

Addressing learners and audience members of the audience Minister Motshekga hailed the SASCE project as it resonates with the government’s vision to improve the quality of life for all citizens as it frees the potential of each participant.

“This is a strategic programme in our quest to promote unity in diversity, reconciliation and social cohesion. Using music as a medium, the competition strives to transmit cultural, traditional and indigenous messages that we hope will serve to promote nation-building, a deep-rooted sense of belonging and a South African national identity for all,” said the Minister.

“It is with this goal in mind that I previously declared 2013 the year of Inclusive education. I am pleased, that through SASCE, the Department is pursuing this goal as we see the inclusion of the Own Choice category which is reserved for special schools. This progressive step should promote equal access at this event.”

Minister Motshekga went on to remind parents, learners and educators in the audience that the primary goal of the Department was to ensure that learners achieved quality educational outcomes.

“So as we enrich our children’s lives through music, sport and other cultural activities, we need to ascertain also that we do not drop the education outcomes ball,” said Minister Motshekga.

Images from the event:


SASCE 2013: DAY 2

Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty was full of praise for the learners competing in the 2013 South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod during his visit to the competition on Tuesday, 3 July 2013.


Day two of the annual school choral competition saw choirs and soloists made up of learners in the Senior Phase (Grades 7-9) competing for top honours in 12 categories.


The singers entertained the crowds packed into the auditorium at Rhema Church in Randburg, Johannesburg, from early into the morning until late into the evening as schools from across the country exhibited their extraordinary talents.


Addressing the audience at Rhema, Deputy Minister Surty hailed the participants who came from far and wide to compete against the future of South Africa’s cultural talent.


“I am very pleased to be here and have fond memories as a spectator of this competition. And as we gather here today I am sure you would agree with me that we dedicate our efforts at this competition to former President Mandela,” said the Deputy Minister.


This year the theme of SASCE reflects the call by Minister Motshekga to foreground inclusive education and rightfully so, as every citizen should be given the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Added Deputy Minister Surty.


“Next year we celebrate 20 years of Democracy and we are working to ensure that SASCE 2014 reflects the achievements of the democratic government. However, while we must sing and celebrate our successes we should acknowledge that we still have much to do and this should reflect in our celebrations,” concluded Deputy Minister Surty.


Day 2 winners


Own Choice Category: Any Voice Combination (Special Schools only):


Arthur  Blaxall, KZN


Soprano Concert Solo:  Umso JS, NC


Mezzo Soprano Concert Solo: Birdswood, KZN


Tenor Concert Solo: Sivile, WC


Baritone/Bass Concert Solo: Edamini, KZN


SSA Sextets: Harmony Park, MP


SATB Mixed Double      Quartet: Morningside, KZN


Mixed Choirs (Western): Birdswood, KZN


Mixed Choirs (Afrkaans): Cofimvaba Village, EC


Mixed Choirs (African): Lusikisiki Village, EC


SATB Choir National Anthem: Lusikisiki Village, EC


HIV/Aids Jingle and Folklore: Kwa Qonda, EC

SASCE 2013: DAY 1

Day one of the 2013 South African Schools Choral Eisteddfod saw the auditorium of Rhema Ministries in Randburg, Johannesburg, reverberate with the sound of music and joyous celebration as the top school choirs in the country came together to strut their stuff.

The first day of the competition saw learners from schools in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4-7) competing in eight categories.

The winners of the eight categories are listed below:

Own Choice Category:  Arthur Blaxall Primary School, KZN

SSA Sextets: Imbasa PS, Eastern Cape

SATB Mixed Double Quartet: Morningside Primary School, KZN

Mixed Choir (Western): Vusukukhanya Primary School, KZN

Mixed Choirs (Afrikaans): Lukhanji Primary School, Eastern Cape

Mixed Choirs (African): Mbalenhle Primary Schoo, KZN

SATB Choir (National Anthem): Bosabosele Primary School, NW

Folklore Item:  A re Itshokeng, NW

Images from the event:


Copyright: Department of Basic Education 2014