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District Development Model and infrastructure backlog in the spotlight during Ministerial Meeting with District Directors for 2022

Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, and Deputy Minister, Dr Reginah Mhaule, attended their quarterly meeting with District Directors on 9 June 2022. The meeting, which took place virtually, was also attended by the Director-General for Basic Education, Mr Mathanzima Mweli and senior managers from the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

Both the Minister and Deputy Minister placed the District Development Model (DDM) high on the agenda to align and strengthen the sector through capacitating local municipalities via district level. “District Directors should support District Champions to align the needs of the sector and provide services as an integrated approach, especially after the function shift of Early Childhood Development (ECD) from the Department of Social Development to Basic Education post 1 April 2022,” the Minister said in her address.

“The most significant challenge we face is overcrowding in schools. Our latest report shows that we need 16,000 new classrooms in the immediate term. The initial estimated cost is R5 billion. We also must focus on the recovery of the KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape Provinces after the devastating floods. We seriously need to move at the requisite speed in empowering individual schools to manage the infrastructure roll-out. The ASIDI project has delivered 302 schools, connecting water to 1,219 schools and sanitation to 1,039 schools, and significant milestones have been achieved in the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) in replacing basic pit toilets with appropriate sanitation. Out of 3,494 schools allocated to this initiative, Basic Education has delivered 1,945 completed projects to schools countrywide”. 

Reference was also made to the Education Districts Conference that took place from 6 – 7 April 2022, to reflect on the past eight years of collaboration with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) to implement the resolutions from the Conference. “We identified the need to capacitate district officials with the necessary competencies and skills to perform their responsibilities optimally. We also plan to evaluate the impact of the capacitation programmes,” said Minister Motshekga. In response, Dr Deva Govender from the NECT presented the planned Winter School for District Directors, which will focus on the enhancement of their policy development and strategic planning skills during June and July 2022, across seven identified competencies.

Various topical presentations about developments in the sector were delivered on, amongst others, the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI); and an overview of the COVID-19 Response Initiative currently underway by the NECT. Other matters under discussion were: a presentation on reading interventions; the placement of out of school learners with disabilities; the Teacher Development Online Platform; Annual Management Processes in schools; the Framework on Skills for a Changing World; and establishing the State of Readiness of Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and districts to host the 2022 Winter School Programme for learners.

In conclusion, the Minister urged District Directors to ensure that teachers and qualifying learners continue to vaccinate. “The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 15 million people have succumbed to COVID-19, exceeding governments’ official numbers. As of May 2022, 30% of South Africans were fully vaccinated, with 93.6% of the supply used. I urge all teachers and qualifying learners to get their vaccine boosters,” Minister Motshekga urged, and expressed her gratitude to District Directors for their continued support at the coalface to eradicate blockages and for their continued commitment towards the DDM.

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