The efforts and commitment made in terms of monitoring school readiness this year, has been essential to maintain quality and efficiency within the schooling system. Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, hosted a media briefing at 222 Struben Street, Sol Plaatjie House, on 29 January 2016, to inform South Africans about issues discussed during the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) meeting held on 28 January 2016.
In her opening remarks, Minister Motshekga explained: “In the main, challenges have related to dealing with the movement of learners across the country and within provinces. All provinces started well and have built adequate capacity to deal with the greatest challenge of late admissions. Gauteng has made great strides to ensure that all the learners who were not placed are allocated spaces in our schools.”
The Minister further said that annually, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) monitors school readiness very closely. “A total of 803 schools were visited before schools closed for the December holiday period and a further 799 schools were visited after schools reopened in January,” explained the Minister. “The school visits looked at things such as school enrolments, timetables, school improvement strategies, the state of infrastructure in the schools, attendance registers of teachers, and curriculum management planning, among many other criteria. CEM is satisfied with the findings of the report and any challenges that were picked up are being attended to,” Minister Motshekga said.
Minister Motshekga also added that the CEM applauded the Department for having introduced the three Streams Education Model - the Technical Vocational and Vocational Occupational Programme, into the education system. All MEC’s expressed excitement at the reforms in terms of introducing new streams into the education system giving learners more options. This item was discussed in depth by CEM.
In line with the National Development Plan, the DBE, with the support of CEM, is mediating the high drop-out rate of learners from the basic schooling system by increasing the learner retention to 90% and allowing for an increase of the number of learners entering vocational and occupational pathways.
The technical vocational and vocational occupational programmes have been crafted and consulted with great rigour to be in line with the technical vocational needs of the country, in order to effectively address the skills shortages and build the economy without compromising the right of any learner to quality education and training.
The Minister told the media that 82,743 candidates have registered to sit for the Supplementary exams, which will be written from 10 February to 17 March 2016. “The Eastern Cape has the highest enrolment at 22,268; Limpopo has 17,000 while Gauteng has 10,000. KwaZulu-Natal has 8,600 candidates registered to sit for the exams.” Minister Motshekga urged those who will be writing to prepare sufficiently to ensure they succeed this time.
The Minister informed the media that the Department will continue with the implementation of the Second Chance Matric Programme to support those learners who did not pass the 2015 National Senior Certificates. However, the Minister said that the CEM is exploring doing away with supplementary examinations. “We are looking at the implications of having a fully-fledged examination to be administered in the middle of the year with no restrictions as is presently the case with supplementary exams which allow only for 2 subjects. If all goes well, we should implement sometime this year. We want to afford learners a second chance to sit for their exams with support from the Department to ensure that they succeed,” said Minister Motshekga.
In conclusion, the Minister appealed to communities across the country to refrain from shutting down schools for whatever reason. “CEM has always expressed concern that this kind of conduct has a detrimental effect on learning and teaching. The time lost is never recovered and it is undesirable that education should be impacted upon in this manner. Education is a societal matter and we all need to play our part to make it work.”