Mrs Palesa Tyobeka, Deputy Director-General: Planning and Delivery Oversight, chaired a meeting with School Improvement Support Co-ordinators (SISCOs) and Project Managers – DBE officials based in the provinces – at the DBE in Pretoria from 04 to 05 September 2018.
The SISCOs work with circuit managers to strengthen the utilisation of data in crafting data- driven intervention strategies. The team made presentations on progress, challenges and areas that require attention and intervention in the various provinces. These meetings are a way of tracking support to improve learner performance via Circuit Improvement Plans (CIPs).
The meeting also presented an opportunity to welcome the new Acting Director for School Level Planning, Monitoring, Development and Support: Mr Bheki Ntuli, who joined the Department on 03 September 2018. Mr Ntuli, who was District Director of Umlazi, one of the top performing Districts in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, before joining the Department, has produced quality results and is a seasoned project manager.
“Education targets and outputs have improved, but we need to look at both quality and quantity. The DBE is eager to assist with challenges experienced by Circuits and Districts for learner performance to improve; the role of these meetings is to assist to clear blockages. Community protests, gangsterism and violence are disrupting teaching and learning. We have to minimise the impact of community protest actions on education.
It is also crucial to invest in learner performance in primary schools as language is the proxy for performing at primary level. Literacy at Grade 6 and the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT) need to be prioritised, and reading for comprehension and the provision of libraries and reading communities strengthened. Identifying underperforming schools even at primary school level is therefore mandatory, not optional. The data we receive from the Chief Directorate responsible for Examinations should be mined thoroughly to enable SISCOs to provide targeted support to Circuit Managers. It is rich. It provides information not only on overall NSC performance but also on individual subject performance, the management of SBAs and a host of other areas we have discussed before. These affect individual circuits and districts differently and the support therefore has to be customised,” said Mrs Tyobeka.
SISCOs and Project Managers reported that they were using the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) Schools that Work II Report for examples of best practices. They were encouraged to use well-performing schools in the lower quintiles (1-3/4) that were producing excellent results despite difficult circumstances, to encourage learner performance in their various provinces. Often Quintile 5 schools are significantly better resourced and often other schools simply envy them, but believe they cannot perform at their level.
In conclusion Mrs Tyobeka referred to the verification on the Audit of District Resources that will be underway to ensure minimum resource packages for Districts and Circuits to perform optimally. Many Districts and Circuits experience challenges in respect of equipment, transport, software and other resources required to perform their daily tasks. The exercise will commence in the North West Province, which is currently under administration. It is envisaged that the filling of vacant posts and the sample verification will be finalised by May 2019. Mrs Tyobeka further appealed to SISCOs and Project Managers to continue to aide progressed and retained learners through the strengthening of data and e-learning use, and encouraged the use of daily activity plans to measure operational plans and output for the impact to be felt in the classroom.