Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending our media briefing, it is the first one this year and we appreciate your continued support.
The beginning of the year is very busy time in the Basic Education sector, starting with the release of the NSC results and then straight into the start of the school year.
The school year has started very well with a few glitches. In the main challenges have related to dealing with the movement of learners across the country and within provinces. All provinces started well and have built adequate capacity to deal with the greatest challenge of late admissions. Gauteng has made great strides to ensure that all the learners who were not placed are allocated spaces in our schools.
The efforts of provinces in this regard are highly appreciated. Overall we believe the start of the school year has been encouraging, which is an excellent indication of a system which is hard at work and continuously seeking to improve.
The National Department monitors school readiness very closely. A total of 803 schools were visited before schools closed for the December holiday period and a further 799 schools were visited after schools reopened in January.
The school visits looked at things such as school enrolments, timetables, school improvement strategies, the state of infrastructure in the schools, attendance registers of teachers, and curriculum management planning, among many other criteria. CEM is satisfied with the findings of the report and any challenges that were picked up are being attended to.
BASIC EDUCATION LEKGOTLA
The first CEM comes the week following an Education Lekgotla in which all provincial education departments’ senior management and MECs participated. CEM received a report which outlined the presentations, discussions and recommendations that were made at the Basic Education Sector Lekgotla, under the theme: Towards Inclusive and Equitable Quality. The Lekgotla took place 20-22 January 2016 at the St George Hotel, Pretoria.
OBJECTIVES OF THE LEKGOTLA
The key objectives of the Lekgotla were to:
- align the sector plans to the directives and mandates of the Ministry, CEM and HEDCOM;
- identify challenges and gaps towards the achievement of the NSC 2015 targets in meeting the sector targets for the NSC in 2016;
- Identify weaknesses and gaps in the School Based Assessment, internal examinations and regulations for the conduct of the NSC and develop measures for remediation;
- consolidate the National Strategy for Learner Attainment and to < >Determine the extent to which the sector is meeting the skills targets of the country.
The Basic Education Lekgotla was viewed by CEM as extremely successful. The provincial and district presentations of plans provided insight into challenges in the system and creative ways of dealing with them. Monitoring the implementation of these plans will be critical for success in improving learning outcomes. The work done by the commissions was commendable and provided a focused approach to the discussions and have contributed towards consolidating DBE and PED plans for 2016.
CEM was of the view that a Lekgotla of this nature should be an annual event as it sets the tone for the year.
ANNUAL NATIONAL ASSESSMENT
Schools were instructed to write the Annual National Assessments between the 26th of November and the 4th of December 2015 after a mediation process with the teacher unions did not reach an agreement. CEM received a progress report on the Administration of the ANA and were satisfied that a good sample participated in the assessments.
A comprehensive report on participation rate across provinces will be available to CEM members in February 2016. The marking of the tests will be done by the teachers at school and should be completed by the end of January 2016.
THE RE-MODELLING OF ANA
The task team set up to undertake the remodelling of ANA held monthly meetings from September to December of 2015 to finalise the preliminary ground work on the re-design process. In this regard, terms of reference for the task team and the working groups were formulated and a costed project plan was approved by Director-General. Key activities of the task team include constituting and orientating the working groups, providing oversight and feedback to working groups, consolidating a concept document on the re-design model and presenting the concept document to the Minister for consideration. The report to CEM is that the team is hard at work and that CEM can look forward to a presentation on the outcomes of the work being done in the near future.
National Assessments are an important diagnostic tool used to identify and remediate challenges in the sector. CEM was pleased with the progress made with regards to the re-modelling and with the co-operation we are getting from stakeholders in the sector towards this process.
SELLING OF POSTS
CEM received a progress report on the draft findings of the selling of posts investigation. The media has already been briefed on this matter but draft findings were presented to CEM for the first time. Provinces will deliberate on the recommendations of the report and it will be discussed at the next CEM.
THREE STREAM EDUCATION MODEL
All MEC’s expressed excitement at the reforms in terms of introducing new streams into the education system giving learners more options. This item was discussed in depth by CEM.
In line with the National Development Plan, the DBE, with the support of CEM, is mediating the high drop-out rate of learners from the basic schooling system by increasing the learner retention to 90 % and allowing for an increase of the number of learners entering vocational and occupational pathways.
The technical vocational and vocational occupational programmes have been crafted and consulted with great rigour to be in line with the technical vocational needs of the country, in order to effectively address the skills shortages and build the economy without compromising the right of any learner to quality education and training.
The supplementary examinations are starting on February 10 and will continue until March 17. We have 82 743 candidates who have registered to sit for the supplementary exams. The Eastern Cape has the highest enrolment at 22 268, Limpopo has 17,000 while Gauteng has 10,000. KwaZulu-Natal has 8600 candidates registered to sit for the exams. We urge all those who will be writing to prepare sufficiently to ensure they succeed this time.
The programme was launched on 6 of January 2016 at the Ivory Park Secondary School in Gauteng. The programme has taken off in leaps and bounds and the interest has increased phenomenally. Provinces are very supportive of the programme and stakeholders have provided the necessary support.
CEM is exploring doing away with supplementary examinations as we know them. We are looking at the implications of having a fully-fledged examination to be administered in the middle of the year with no restrictions as it is presently the case with supplementary exams which allow only for 2 subjects.
If all goes well we should implement in the near future. We want to afford learners a second chance to sit for their exams with support from the Department to ensure that they succeed.
I want to take this opportunity to appeal to communities in different parts of the country to refrain from shutting down schools for whatever reason. We have received numerous reports of incidents where some members of various communities are preventing schools from operating. CEM has always expressed concern that this kind of conduct has a detrimental effect on learning and teaching. The time lost is never recovered and it is undesirable that education should be impacted upon in this manner. Education is a societal matter and we all need to play our part to make it work.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 082 580 8275 | Troy Martens – 079 899 3070