AN ADDRESS BY THE MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION, MRS ANGELINA MOTSHEKGA ON THE OCCASION OF RESPONDING TO THE PRESIDENTIAL STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, CAPE TOWN .
05 JUNE 2009
Honourable Deputy President
Ladies and Gentlemen
I rise in support of the President, and thank him for the leadership he has given in his state of the nation address. I must confess that I am heartened by the way in which our President demonstrated his firm commitment to better our education system, to our children and the future of this country. I agree with you Mr. President, education is the single most important tool to develop our people, safeguard their future and that of this country and put us in a better position to be able to confront many of our demons as this country. The challenges facing our beautiful beloved country, these include and not limited to poverty, unemployment, burden of many avoidable diseases, class and gender imbalances, undervelopment, honourable I can count them all.
If we get our education right, many of our other challenges will be addressed. But if we get it wrong, they will multiply.
First and foremost, let me thank you for establishing a Ministry of Basic Education, which will have a dedicated focus on the schooling system of our country from Grade R to Grade 12. This kind of attention is required, given the size and complexity of our education system, which is still recovering
in many areas from the historic years of deliberate neglect. But, Mr President, we will not shy away from the task, and we will not disappoint the nation. We will take up this task with all the commitment and dedication the task requires.
Mr. President in your state of the nation Address yesterday some of the points you highlighted in relation to the task you were instructing us to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate included Ensuring that all of us, teachers, parents and learners observe basic non negotiables which lie at the heart of our work. Teachers teach, learners learn and parents parent their children. More important, our most valuable resource in education, teachers, conduct their business in the most ethical, exemplary way and completely desist from any behaviour that harms their learners and the profession itself and any form of ill discipline amongst teachers is dealt with decisively. We ensure that we have working schools by ensuring that those who finally run these institutions are properly trained in management and leadership skills support our school managers by ensuring that they receive the necessary training.
We conduct our business with the utmost dedication ensuring that our processes produce quality outcomes and our schools become nothing less than thriving centres of excellence.
Mr President you also instructed us to deal a blow and break the back of illiteracy amongst our adult population, the majority of which were denied this right by poverty, inaccessibility of education opportunities in rural and farming areas in particular, patriachial belief that it is better to invest in boy children as compared to girl children and just apartheid spatial and economic planning
In further pursuance of the point you made earlier in other forums that you want us to ensure that children from rural, farming and poor communities should also be enabled to access quality education and have an equal opportunity like all other children to develop to their full potential and thus the call to improve education provisions and learning opportunities for them.
To give our children a solid foundation for learning, we are again expected to ensure universal access to ECD programmes for all our children and specifically ensure that by 2014 there is a complete roll out of Grade R to all our schools. This will indeed be a very great step towards laying a solid foundation for all our children.
Mr president you also charged us to ensure that we ensure that our children stay in schools until they finish their basic education which with this new dispensation we say it is grade 12 and no longer grade 9. We support those who are still struggling to pass grade 12.
President kucacile unkuthi cha umlungu omusha akadlali, futhi usesicacisele ukuthi umausasindwa yizinyawo, ozokudlisa akulahlele lee emane ekuhlekisa njalo. Ntate re ikemisetse hosebetsa tjenana Ntate Trollip ungathi uthi
nizasebenzisana nathi kanthi utjho uzaweza abantu be DA athi kanti unkokheli u Zille unabantu kanti abantubakhe bonke ubaphe u Khongolose because member you are very right, the bottom line of education is about curriculum that is our core business and everything we do is in support of learning and teaching. We transport, them keep them in safe structures, feed them, protect them, exempt the poor ones from paying fees in order for them to learn and if we remove our eyes from the educational pedagogy and what finally happens in the classroom we will all be wasting our time and all of this is contained in the curriculum.
Member you are right, the curriculum needs to be streamlined even further, all other frills which tend to distract teachers from their core business of teaching and learning need to be removed. We must indeed go back to basic, the minimum which has been evading us in many of our schools that our learners must be able to read, write and count remain at the core of our business. Yes indeed the noble principles of an outcomes curriculum cannot be wished away. It is important that our children who are our future citizens, should be equipped with skills that make them well rounded and developed people who can solve problems, operate in any challenging environment they find themselves and be able to relate to their peers and general environment but they also need to have basics literate skills.
I could not agree more with you Honourable. Mr President when I was first appointed MEC for education in Gauteng I embarked on a road show meeting educators and principals to familiarise myself with my new work, Mr President meeting after meeting topping the agenda were different concerns around the curriculum, it's financial demands, the unbearable amount of paperwork, different interpretations and all sorts of things and after you appointed me, the first thing amongst the things I raised with the department was this matter, I said when I was an MEC I could not do any thing about this matter now that I am Minister, lets talk, President I must say I was extremely excited when I learned that my predecessor had already set up a process to deal with this matter. So what I said to them was that this June this team identified by Minister Pandor start with this exercise ensuring that by the beginning of 2010 academic year, all curriculum related challenges have all been cleared. I want to promise the president and the nation in general, this will be done. Nami ngizobagedla abangaphansi kwami futhi mina ke ngingahleki. We will immediately set up a Curriculum Review Committee to analyse and identify concerns raised by educators during our election campaigning period.
These initiatives are all intended to achieve but one goal: an improvement in the quality of learning outcomes. We are now testing all learners at Grade 3 and 6 levels, using standardised national assessments, and this will be expanded to include Grade 9 as well. Our simple aim is to ensure that by 2011 at least 50% of learners achieve the desired outcomes, and the Foundations for Learning Campaign has been constructed to support this. The Campaign has captured the imagination of teachers and parents, who, for perhaps the first time, have been given clear directives of what is expected of them, and what their children should be able to accomplish in terms of reading, writing and accountability. The documents have thus served as both a guide to teachers, as well as an accountability instrument for parents, who will be able to measure whether their children are progressing as expected.
Beyond these Grades, we will conclude an overall review of the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement across the system, with a view to ensuring that any impediments or barriers to its effective implementation are addressed. This includes questions of administrative burdens, which teachers regularly complain about. For matric students, we have once again implemented our support programme, consisting of daily broadcasts on SABC by expert teachers (before and after school), as well as a set of “Study Mates” for every candidate, which gives detailed tuition and guidance in every subject.
President you also indicated in your state of the nation address that you want to meet our schools principals. Comrade I must say I was extremely excited when you said this. Comrade President you are perfectly right, schools stand and fall on its leadership. Again President when I was a provincial MEC during my school visits, the team that I worked with on schools oversight, even when I did not have the school profile they can testify that just from the principal, I would tell what we were up to, from the way they walked, chewing chappies in the morning, small talk, the school and its challenges would be summarised. Lilonke President by wanting to meet the principals, you hit the nail on its head. Already on Thursday president after your state of the nation address the department and your office are working on this meeting. I am told it has generated such excitement and indeed I am told the leadership of the principals bodies consulted are excited. Our offices have formed a working team to prepare for this meeting and amongst other ensure that no organisation that needs to be there is left out. President with this, you have brought back happy times in the profession. Le rona batlangs ba lefela fela MoPresidente wa naha o batla ho ikopanya le rona.
Comrade mina ngikhuliswe kuthiwa umsebenzi uyahlonitshwa, umsebenzi yiyona indodayakho uyahlonitshwa, as the department can assure you that all the areas you want us to focus on in the next months the following will be done the curriculum refinement task team to finalise its work ready for the 2010 academic year the team preparing for your meeting with principals is in Place we have already agreed with dr. Minister Motsoaledi that our departments will start work to prepare for the eye, ears and tooth testing for the 2010 grade 1's the literacy campaign with Khari kude and other literacy programmes will be upped with the view of breaking the back of literacy.
Comrade President we will give more details on this during our budget speech
We already had preliminary discussions with Minister Doidge on working together on improving infrastructure in rural, farming and poor areas and want to commit him that during the budget speeches will give more information. As mentioned we have been talking with minster Motsoaledi through the notes moving around here in the house that as soon as possible we will set up a working team. Again honourable President we are committed to ensuring that we pull this off.
Education like other departments with provincial departments has an added advantage that it actually has ten times the capacity to do the work, national and the nine provinces are just a massive force to make sure President that education captures the imagination and commitment of the nation. We are planning a national education workshop with all provinces on the 24 th and 25 th to align national and provincial programmes. The education sector has had a great opportunity of having been deployed the best cadres in all provinces. Cde President all provinces, I think understanding both the Polokwane resolution that education is the ruling parties number 1,2, and 3 priority as always mentioned by our deputy president deployed its best cadres to lead education departments. We are also in positive and constructive consultations with Western Cape . Comrade President yesterday after the State of the nation address we briefly spoke with the DA leader, Premier Zille that next week I will be visiting the MEC and the department as part of the national alignment process and she welcomed this. I will also visit Eastern Cape , Limpopo , Mpumalanga and KZN to if possible before the workshop failing which before the budget vote. Honourable President, bare mosebetsi otshaba matsoho and in education, with provincial departments of education there is many of us and together we will defiantly do more speaker, it is true that in the past 15 years we have made significant progress in regard to educational access. More children are in school today then ever before, and most of them are staying in school until Grade 12, which is a good thing. The President has challenged us to move even closer to universal enrolment, and ensure 95% of children stay through to grade 12, and we will work with provinces to ensure this goal is met.
Similarly, the President has charged us with expanding the provision of early childhood opportunities, including universal Grade R enrolment, as well as a doubling of the number of 0-4 year olds in community based ECD Centres.
The benefits of a structured pre-school year are enormous for both the child and the system, and we must move as soon as possible to a situation where every child has an opportunity to start school at age 5, and to continue until they have completed Grade 12.
The instrument we are putting in place to ensure this is a Learner Unit Record Tracking and Information System(LURITS), which will register and track every child from the day they begin school to when they finish. This will enable us to manage transfers between schools and provinces, to identify slow progress, and to intervene where a child “drops out” of school. I am proud to announce that we have commenced with the provision of the school nutrition programme in the poorest secondary schools. We will vigorously expand this programme. I should caution that as the economy contracts, we can expect more children to come to school hungry, and our resources will be stretched. So once again I must appeal to communities to use the feeding grant to the best advantage.
At the same time, we have initiated a review of the Adult Basic Education and Training system, and are in the process of transforming this into a vibrant system of education opportunities for out-of-school youth and adults. The success of the FET Colleges has shown us there is demand for these kind of post-school institutions, and our goals will be to ensure a diverse range of programmes and institutions to deliver on these.
Our schools need a lot of attention, especially those that are continuing to fail our communities. These are not limited to either urban or rural settings, and often have little to do with the wealth of the school or its community. A recent report to the Ministry on “Schools that Work” showed conclusively that the issues were not complex, and did not depend on resources. A singular focus on teaching and learning was the prime ingredient of a successful school, with learners, teachers and parents recognising this as the central purpose.
This recognition has brought about the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign of the Department, which has brought all stakeholders under the umbrella of the “non-negotiables”. For teachers, this means being in class, on time and teaching, and for learners, much the same. Teachers are required to be in school for at least 7 hours a day, as well as an extra 1 hour each day for preparation, marking, and extra-mural activities and this must be closely monitored by schools and communities. Departmental officials also have a set of non-negotiable commitments, including the obligation to visit and support schools and a regular basis, and parents, while supporting their own children, are also asked to act as the eyes and ears of the Department in ensuring all role-players meet their commitments.
In support of this, we will be strengthening accountability and performance management systems throughout the sector. Apart from the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS), which is now being externally moderated, we intend this year to begin with the establishment of a National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEED-U). Their focus will naturally be on the performance of schools and the system as a whole.
Qualified and committed teachers remain the mainstay of our system of education, and in 2009, for the first time, we have been pleased t allocate direct grants to teacher unions to undertake development programmes for their members. This is in anticipation of a fully-fledged continuing professional teacher development (CPTD) system, to be managed by the professional council (SACE), and which is being piloted in selected provinces this year.
A challenge we will have to overcome is the currently inefficient process for the deployment of teachers. Teachers are our most valuable and most expensive resource, and yet it the one we have least control over. Schools choose the teachers they want, and teachers choose the schools they want, regardless of the needs of the system. As a result we have unemployed qualified teachers looking for jobs, while unqualified teachers continue to be appointed. We have surplus Maths teachers at a school, teaching other subjects, while a school down the road has no Maths teacher. These system inefficiencies cannot be allowed, and we will have to find a procedure that will ensure all our teachers are employed in the most appropriate school, teaching the subjects for which they are trained.
We also face serious challenges regarding school infrastructure, notwithstanding the enormous investments we have made, especially in the last five years. We have a very good database which reflects the condition of each and every school, and our goal is to pick up the capacity of the construction sector once the World Cup stadiums have been built, and use this in a 10 year programme to completely eradicate the school infrastructure backlogs. By 2011, every school should have basic services, especially water and sanitation, and we should ensure that by 2014 all unsafe and unsuitable structures should have been eradicated.
I am encouraged by the Limpopo model, where new, state of the art schools have been built, rather than trying to maintain and refurbish old schools, and I will continue to encourage provinces to carefully consider the location and state of each of their schools, and to rationalise these as far as possible.
Where necessary, transport or boarding hostels will need to be provided, but we must recognise that extremely small schools, some with only 5 or 10 children, are simply not viable on educational or economic grounds. I am also encouraged by the offer of the Minister of Agriculture to consider the establishment of Agri-Villages, where farm workers can live near the farms, but on public property, in their own houses, and with public school (and other) facilities provided.
Let me start to conclude Speaker by indicating that our schools are deliberately called public schools and not state schools – a signal that they belong to the people and not to the government. The instrument the public has been given to run these schools is the School Governing Body, which has extensive powers and functions, including the recommendation of staff for appointment, the development of a Code of Conduct, the raising of school fees (where applicable) and the determination of the language policy of the school. No other system concedes as may powers to the public as we do, and it is essential for al patriotic South Africans to participate in these governing bodies. Your opportunity is now, as the country heads to new SGB elections. Parents as well as community members may stand, and I must encourage every parent or person interested in education to find out about their local school elections, to participate,, and if possible, to stand for election. We need over 200 000 school governors in the country – please make yourself available!
Speaker – the President has tasked us with ensuring that schools become Centres of Excellence. Our research shows that there are four elements to a successful school: Good and committed teachers, spending a proper amount of time on task, supported by decent textbooks, and with regular testing of learners. If we can make these four simple things happen, then we can claim that Basic Education will be on the road to success.
I did indicate that I would be speaking on behalf of two Ministries, and there are two other aspects that I must reflect on, since the President has raised them. The first is the huge task of building a post-school sector that will not only develop the technical skills needed for the economy, but also the social and other skills and attitudes required for a developmental state. Our FET Colleges may well be the core of such a system, but we would want to expand these to ensure a diverse range of programmes offered in a variety of institutional settings across the country. The linking of the skills development structures with education should ensure a much greater alignment of effort, and provide a solid basis for the implementation of the national human resource development strategy.
The President also asked us to ensure that poorer students were not denied access to higher education. Our primary instrument for this is the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which allocated over R2 billion every year to poor and deserving students. Added to this is the amount recovered from former students, who pay back the loans once they graduate and are employed, and which in 2008 totalled over R300 million. We know there are still problems with access, and I can report that we have already initiated a review of the scheme, and will report back to Parliament as soon as this has been concluded. Again, the linkages between the NSFAS and the National Skills Fund, which will in future be under one roof, will be explored to ensure maximum benefit.
Let me finish with a good news story, following the President's wish for us to revive school sport. In the first half of this year over 80 000 children participated in the Schools Confederations Cup. Each of the provinces participated as one of the countries in the ConFed Cup, including being able to render the national anthem of that country! The finals were held last week, with the Western Cape , representing Iraq , as the eventual winners. The same competition will be held for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and I must encourage everyone to support our schools, where some very exciting sport is being played.
Speaker – I thank you.