In honour of the 10-year anniversary of the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Provincial Education Departments (PEDs), acknowledged milestones achieved by the Basic Education Sector through the assistance of the private sector. Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, joined by national and provincial education officials, participated in the NECT 10-year anniversary National Convention aimed at raising the bar in terms of improving quality learning and teaching in schools. The Convention, held to reflect on collaboration to enhance education reform efforts in South Africa, took place at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Boksburg from 11 – 12 September 2023.
The NECT played a crucial role in forging partnerships between the DBE and the private sector, which ultimately assisted in addressing learning deficits and infrastructure challenges within school communities. The NECT was established in 2013 to mobilise national capacity to assist Government in achieving distinctive, substantial and sustainable improvements in education. It has been initiated to ensure that by 2030, all South African children possess the skills, knowledge and attitudes that enable them to live economically gainful and fulfilled lives.
Chairperson of the NECT Board of Trustees, Mr Sizwe Nxasana, said that the NECT has succeeded in networking key role players in the education sector: “The stakeholder networking yielded a stable educational environment, fostering constructive engagements between Government, teacher unions, civil society organisations and the private sector. When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, South Africa was better equipped to weather the storm in the education sector, partly due to the role that the NECT played by way of facilitating communication and mediation among stakeholders, whilst supporting the swift return of teachers and learners to schools. As a result, South Africa’s schools reopened within weeks whilst many countries faced extended closures. During the rebooting phase of the education response, the NECT established a remote and digital learning initiative, mobilising various platforms such as television, websites, and radio stations in collaboration with the private sector, content producers, and broadcasters. The NECT platform enabled the state, private sector, philanthropists, foundations and trusts to raise R2,5 billion earmarked for education improvement”.
According to Minister Motshekga, the NECT stands as the gold standard in public-private partnerships. “As we reflect upon a decade of relentless effort and collaboration, it becomes evident that our journey has been marked by remarkable partnerships between the DBE and the private sector. Such collaborations pave the way for an influx of resources and expertise and fostered environments replete with innovation and efficiency, marking a confluence of the Government’s foresight and the private sector’s agility a lived reality. Our collaborative efforts have been pivotal in enhancing the curriculum, focusing on marrying tradition with innovation, grounding learning in our rich cultural tapestry whilst integrating global perspectives to foster a holistic education experience”.
She alluded to the fact that the NECT played a critical role in the promotion of the reading revolution in schools. “The inception of meticulous national reading plans was a testimony to the DBE’s determined stride towards literacy excellence. Implemented across various educational districts, these plans are tailored to nurture the innate curiosity of our learners, guiding them progressively towards literacy proficiency. This celebration is a pledge to continue nurturing inclusive, holistic, and empowering partnerships, enabling a canvas where every child can paint their dreams with strokes of knowledge, empathy, and understanding. As we embark on new avenues, may we enhance basic education reform efforts, armed with a decade of rich experiences, fortified partnerships and a renewed commitment to nurturing the vibrant tapestry of young minds,” she concluded.