The DBE’s newly established Rural Education Directorate expects to see progress in rural schools in terms of improved quality education. This and other important outcomes emanated after the Rural Education Roundtable Discussions that were conducted by the various commissions at the DBE in Pretoria on 04 April 2016.
Referring to the outcomes of the various commissions, the Director for the Rural Education Directorate, Dr Phumzile Langa, said that effective and efficient education for children in rural areas can only be attained if all stakeholders put their shoulders to the wheel. “Rural education used to be associated with deficiency and inequality; and bringing heads together will jointly ensure solutions and suggestions that will maximise quality and efficiency in the education sector. Radical action and implementation is necessary to enhance rural education. Contextualising rural learning to speak to the needs of the communities, community involvement and sharing the good stories about rural education was listed as some of the ways to improve rural education.
Dr Langa further stated that the challenges and strategies for improvement cited in the deliberations should serve as a guideline from which the Department’s priority list should be drawn up in line with Government’s main concerns. “There are great inequalities between rural and urban schools and a dedicated focus on rural schools should reconcile the disparities that exist in the provisioning of education in these areas.” One of the topic areas of discussions was the impact that existing policies and regulations have on rural schools and strategies that can be used going forward. There was a strong recommendation for a review of existing education policies for the purpose of strengthening and developing policies and regulations that are tailor-made for rural schools.
Furthermore, there were robust discussions on a multi-disciplinary approach, which can be used to ensure that rural schools benefit and that there is equity in the implementation of all sectoral programmes, projects and interventions aimed at improving the quality of education. A strong focus on interdepartmental collaborations was recommended. This will allow departments with an interest in supporting rural education to work together in enhancing education goals. A good example of this is the collaboration that the DBE has with the Departments of Rural Development and Land Reform; and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The direction given by the commissions will bring about a speedy resolve of the challenges that, in turn, will contribute to the swift attainment of the goal to maximise quality and efficiency. “As a way forward all stakeholders are encouraged to continue to collaborate within the education sector. The support of all the stakeholders involved should inspire everyone to strive towards improving learning outcomes. The presentations and recommendations will be shared with all stakeholders in due course. The provision of quality education for all children, including those in rural schools, is high on Government’s priority list and lessons learnt at the roundtable will be appropriately applied so that rural education is afforded its rightful place on the radar of the education sector,” concluded Dr Langa.