Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor MP, at Parel Vallei High School, Somerset West.
23 March 2009
Director of Metro East, Mr M Caroline
Deputy Chairperson of the School Governing Body, Mr C Steyn
Members of the School Governing Body
Principal, Mr E Gouws, teachers, parents, learners
I’m very pleased to be here at Hoërskool Parel Vallei today.
Thank you for inviting me to open your new facility.
I would like to congratulate the school governing body, principal, trustees, and parents for undertaking, initiating and funding this project.
School infrastructure has been one of the great challenges of our democratic government. We have invested substantially in school infrastructure, but more needs to be done. We have a clear idea of the scale of the challenge we face and what we have to do to fix it.
The September 2007 National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) report revealed huge improvements.
For example, schools with electricity have increased from 11,174 in 1996 to 20,713 in 2006.
In other areas we have managed to reduce the backlog of basic facilities significantly.
We have reduced the number of overcrowded schools from a half of our schools in 1999 to a quarter in 2006.
However, only 7% of our 26,000 schools have adequate libraries, and 10% of our 6,000 secondary schools have functioning laboratories. Only 32% of schools have computers - a huge challenge as we enter the digital age.
NEIMS therefore provides the government, for the first time, with the ability to quantify and pinpoint these backlogs, and to plan for their eradication. A capital investment plan is under development, using the NEIMS data.
Appropriate facilities and resources to support learning - a library, a laboratory, sport and e-learning facilities, textbooks, and chalk - are fundamental to quality education.
Your new building, which includes a music block, 5 classrooms and 3 specialist rooms, a library, cafeteria and large sport hall, will benefit each and everyone at your school and enhance your current outstanding academic record.
In the last few years all Grade 12 learners at this school passed matric and last year all your NSC candidates passed the NSC.
The 2008 pass for Mathematics and Physical Sciences was outstanding.
It’s remarkable that you offer 20 of the 29 subjects of the National Curriculum Statement Grade 10-12 (General). Opportunity is given for learners to offer both English and Afrikaans on home and first additional language levels and to study French Second Additional Language.
These academic results require outstanding and dedicated teachers.
One of our challenges is to produce quality teachers for all our schools and to increase teacher numbers in South Africa.
In the last three years there has been a steady increase in the number of student teachers training in South African universities.
In 2009 the numbers have increased dramatically.
Universities report that applications for entry into teaching increased this year by 50%-100% in comparison to last year.
We have incentivised teacher training.
In 2007 we launched the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme. The scheme provides full-cost bursaries that cover tuition, accommodation, a book allowance and a stipend to successful applicants. The bursary is managed by the DoE and is financially administered by NSFAS and is available at all higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country which offer initial teacher education programmes.
This bursary is awarded for studies in what are referred to as ‘national priority areas’ where teachers are needed. These include mathematics, the sciences and the languages.
In 2009 R400 million is available for disbursement to initial teacher education students. Approximately 9,000 students have received bursaries and approximately 2,000 Funza Lushaka students will graduate and so be ready for placement in teaching posts in 2010.
This is reason for celebration.
There is, at Parel Vallei, a strong tradition of parent and community involvement in school affairs.
This involvement was given a new thrust with the introduction of school governing bodies less than ten years ago. Extensive power has been given to our school governing bodies. Policies on language use, on admissions, and on staff appointments have given governing bodies the ability to support our efforts to achieve quality in all our schools.
Governing body members, you were proactive in your approach and vision. You’ve not only negotiated with the local authority to erect the new buildings, but you’ve also mobilised trustees and parents to provide all the funds.
Mr Gouws, you have a winning formula. Together with your school management team members you can share that formula with other schools in the district.
Share ideas on good leadership and management styles.
Explore ways of sharing physical resources such as libraries, computer laboratories, science laboratories and sporting facilities.
Encourage donor companies to form partnerships with struggling schools as part of their social responsibility.
In conclusion, I would like to once again thank the governing body, all parents, trustees and the principal for initiating this remarkable facility.
I thank you!