Basic Education Deputy Minister, Dr Reginah Mhaule, delivered the keynote address during the opening ceremony of the South African Principals’ Association (SAPA) National Conference in Durban on 14 September 2023. The Conference theme, “Surfing the waves of change,” confirmed that the sector is at the edge of transformation owing to the commitment of leaders and managers to navigate and surf through the strong waves of catastrophes, enabling a better education system post the COVID-19 pandemic and pressing socio-economic issues such as recession, unemployment, bullying and teenager pregnancy.
Addressing delegates, Dr Mhaule reminded principals about their basic education priorities: “Principals are required to manage expanded access to Early Childhood Development (ECD) and improvement of the quality of Grade R; Improve quality of teaching, learning and assessment through development, supply and effective utilisation of available resources; Develop strategies for educational change that strengthens the school and improves overall functionality; Conduct School Self Evaluation (SSE) and School Improvement Planning (SIP) to improve learner performance and create conducive school environments; Strengthen accountability systems and improve management at the school, community and district level; and Build partnerships for education reform and improved quality.
According to the South African Standards for Principalship, principals are expected to create a conducive environment for teaching and learning. “Two weeks ago, I led the delegation of Deputy Ministers from Home Affairs, Health and the Department of Justice and Correctional Service here in KwaMashu. The DBE takes issues of school safety seriously and has put in place various policies and measures to ensure the safety of all learners, educators and relevant stakeholders in schools. We therefore humbly request our principals to assist in managing and implementing the policies put in place, ensure improved vetting of teachers and staff, as well as the establishing and reviving the School Safety Committees”.
Deputy Minister Mhaule added that it is necessary to continually evaluate strategies to deliver on key sector priorities in a smarter and faster way and to foreground language and reading as a core competency to enable learners to acquire skills that would empower them to participate meaningfully in society. The DBE saw it befitting to develop, design, train and roll-out the Learning Recovery Programme (LRP) to reboot, recover and rebuilding time and content lost during the pandemic. “As a Department, we are aiming to expose our principals to current issues of importance to curriculum delivery. All principals from the 23,646 Public Ordinary Schools were interacted with during the recent DG’s Roadshows. As we are about to complete the current year and approach the new academic year in 2024, all plans of administering the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination are in place and I hope that the processes of learner admissions, LTSM deliveries and school readiness are well surfed by our agents of change in our schools, our principals, for improved leadership and management of our schools,” Dr Mhaule concluded.