2014 marks 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa and in an effort to commemorate the progress made in the various sectors, the DBE hosted a research meeting. The focus of the Consultative Meeting: Reflections on the General Education System with a Focus on Education For All-Improving Access, Equity and Inclusivity in Education was a discussion on the progress, achievements and concerns of the sector; reflecting on how the general education systems has improved and identify gaps and challenges in order to realise the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025 and the National Development Plan.
The Acting Director-General of the Department of Basic Education, Mr PB Padayachee attended the meeting and provided the opening address. In his opening address he acknowledged the approximately 90 participants who attended the meeting from across the sector, and reflected that “Over the past 20 years substantial progress has been made in issues of access, equity and inclusivity in the sector. This has resulted from a combination of policy development, capacity enhancement, development of norms and standards, definitions of roles and responsibilities as well as interventions. Although substantial progress has been made, a lot of work remains, and the themes in the discussion for today will assist the Department in identifying gaps and the way forward.
The meeting was attended by officials from the DBE, Provincial Education Departments, the National Planning Commission, academics and representatives of organisations involved in public education including School Governing Bodies as well as other stakeholders.
Presentations were made by representatives from the DBE, Provincial Education Departments and UNICEF, only to name a few. Amongst the presentations Pondering Panda and UNICEF presented on the Learner Happiness Index; the intention of which is to measure, on a quarterly basis, how happy learners in SA are, across pre-selected metrics aligned with Department of Basic Education’s goals.
The remaining presentations and discussions focused on issues of access, equity and quality, this was done through different approaches including a policy perspective, analysis of trends and evidence, reflecting against the sector plan, and a discussion of the provincial challenges that directly impact on learner performance as well as interventions introduced in the sector to address these challenges.
The meeting was also an opportunity to reflect on the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All goals that were set collectively at an international forum. Even more importantly, this meeting reflected on the key issues to be addressed in the Post 2015 agenda as well as how we can ensure alignment between the MDGs and EFA processes as well as the South African national context and sector plan.