Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at the Inkululeko Yesizwe Primary School, Vlakfontein.
16 February 2009
The School Principal
Staff, parents, learners and officials
Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to open the new administrative block of the Inkululeko Yesizwe Primary School.
I am here as a witness to a successful partnership between business and the Department of Education.
I thank the Imperial and Ukhamba Community Development Trust for its investment in the education of our communities. This is a partnership we encourage and support.
An investment in education is an investment in the future. For many young South African quality education alters their future in fundamental ways. It has been proven beyond doubt that education impacts decidedly on enduring patterns of poverty in families and communities.
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these, then each of us will have two ideas.”
Now that is education.
George Bernard Shaw wrote that in one of his plays.
How about this?
“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”
Who said that? Albert Einstein.
That is also education.
The Department of Education exists to improve the quality of education in all our schools. It has been hamstrung in achieving that goal through the lack of adequate infrastructure in many of our schools.
We have doubled and redoubled our efforts to close the gap in resource provision between our rich and poor schools.
Since 2006, over 2 233 new schools have been constructed, 73 214 additional classrooms provided, 6 297 schools provided with water and 2 242 with sanitation and 11 574 with electricity. That has meant that our capital funding has increased substantially over the past ten years.
Over and above this, the Department has tried to redress the stark historical inequalities in the distribution of education resource inputs. Historically, one of the most visible forms of inequalities in the provision of resources was the physical teaching and learning environments.
It’s because of this that the Department developed the National Policy for an Equitable Provision of an Enabling Physical Teaching and Learning Environment, as well as the National Minimum Norms for School Infrastructure.
Overall, the policies aim to redress under-investment in our poorest communities.
The norms and standards provide a clear classification of schools and a minimum and optimum package that constitutes a functional and an effective school.
It covers the following areas: classification of school types, capacity of a school, space norm per learner, classroom size, school site size and location, accommodation spaces required by a school, norms and standards for sports facilities as well as norms and standards for basic services.
These norms and standards for infrastructure aim at equity in the provision of the physical teaching and learning environment.
We require investment in school infrastructure. There are still too many schools without libraries, laboratories, administration blocks and sporting facilities.
Government needs the assistance of the private sector. The role and participation of the private sector is critical to the success of our quest to provide resources to our schools. Public-private partnerships are important in order that services reach a broader base of the communities.
In October 2008 the EU completed its rehabilitation of 27 schools, and earlier this month ArcellorMittal began a R250 million investment in the construction of 10 schools – these are examples of some partnerships that we have with external as well as internal donors.
It is encouraging to see that the partnership with Imperial Ukhamba Community Development Trust has gone beyond the mere provision of physical facilities.
Educators have been trained, Grade R educators helped to complete studies in early childhood development, and learners taken on educational tours to places where they were taught about their heritage and their past.
This goes a long way towards realising the objectives of our Foundations for Learning Campaign, which is aimed at improving literacy and numeracy in primary schools.
This four-year campaign was designed to create a national focus on improving the reading, writing and numeracy abilities of all South African children.
It provides energy, direction, and inspiration across all levels of the education system as well as in homes and the public domain to ensure that by 2011 all learners are able to demonstrate age appropriate levels of reading, writing and numeracy.
In conclusion, congratulations on the opening of this administration block.
I hope that you use it to serve the entire school community.
Congratulations to the Imperial Ukhamba Community Development Trust.
This partnership is a model of the type of support we want from our business community.
I hope that many more companies will follow this excellent example.