The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga led a delegation of officials to a meeting with education stakeholders in the Mount Frere district, Eastern Cape, to address education performance in the district.
The meeting, held in Mount Frere on Wednesday, 11 February 2015, was a follow- up to the education summit held in the region in January 2012. The 2012 summit was initiated by Chief Diko in response to the continuous underperformance of the district in Grade 12. Chief Diko was also instrumental to the organisation of this follow-up meeting.
Various stakeholders, including teacher unions, academics and politicians participated in the 2012 summit and made proposals on how the results could be improved. Minister Motshekga then committed to assist the district in improving its results, through close collaboration with the province and district to address some of the most pressing challenges impacting on the quality of learning and teaching.
These included addressing delays in getting Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) to schools, dealing with unacceptable infrastructure challenges, including unusable toilets and shortages of desks and chairs for both learners and educators. The major thrust however was providing additional support for learners on selected gateway subjects as well as improving Literacy and Numeracy/Maths performance in the Annual National Assessments (ANA).
The support and intervention strategies resulted in the visible improvement of the Grade 12 results both in the overall percentage pass and in the percentage of students obtaining Bachelor passes from 47.2% in 2011; 50% in 2012 and 59% in 2013. In 2014 Mount Frere senior secondary schools obtained 60.7%. This represents a total improvement of 13.5% over the 3 year intervention, with marked improvements in the number of bachelors passes achieved as well. Similar improvements were realised year on year in ANA performance in Grades 3 and 6 Mathematics but more needs to be done to improve performance at Grade 9 as well as in Home and First Additional Language in all grades.
The meeting was coordinated by the District Coordination, Monitoring and Support branch of the DBE, in conjunction with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT). The NECT is a partnership aimed at strengthening cooperation between stakeholders in the education sector including government, business, labour and civil society. Mount Frere is one of the districts targeted for intervention through the NECT programme.
Minister Motshekga reminded the attendees that education is a societal issue and it is important for community members to hold the system to account.
“This meeting is a follow-up from the 2012 summit, which was initiated by community members who were prepared to take an active role in the improvement of education in the area,” said the Minister. “The improved results show that it is possible to turn anything around if we all take responsibility and get things done. This shows what can be done if you hold teachers and the system to account.”
Deputy Director-General for District Coordination, Monitoring and Support at the DBE, Ms Palesa Tyobeka indicated during the meeting that the improvement in results is an indication that stakeholders have taken the intervention seriously.
“Working together we have been able to improve results in the district. Even with the transfer of a number of additional high schools in to the district there was still improved performance in 2014,” said Ms Tyobeka.
The improvement in results was largely due to the interventions that were implemented. These include a mentorship programme which focused on internal accountability systems; rationalisation of small and nonviable schools; and school functionality and improved district planning.
The meeting was also an opportunity for DBE officials to outline the non-negotiable priorities of the current administration and get buy in from teachers, educators, parents and the wider community to support its initiatives. It was also an opportunity for teachers and principals to raise issues of concern with officials.