Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for taking the time to meet with us on a Friday morning as we update you on critical matters pertaining to Government's number one priority.
It is that time of the year when all of us in the education sector are gearing up for the final push towards the end of the year, with just 37 days to go until the class of 2017 sit for their final National Senior Certificate examinations; as a system we are ready.
STATE OF READINESS – NSC 2017
The Department has been working tirelessly to ensure that the examinations are up to standard and that this year there are no irregularities.
Registration of NSC Examinations Centres and candidates has been completed and final verification of the data is currently underway. Question papers have been set and externally moderated.
There are 636,814 registered full-time and 161,475 part-time candidates in the 2017 examinations, 37,000 less than 2016 in terms of full-time enrolment.
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have the largest enrolments again with 169,023 and 112,164 respectively. Limpopo has 110,639 while Eastern Cape registered 92,755 candidates for the 2017 exams.
To avert leakage of 2017 question papers, all 212 storage points across the country have been audited to ensure compliance with the minimum security standards. Storage points that do not comply will not be allowed to store question papers.
One of the things we have been looking at more closely as a sector, and one of the focal points of the Department's provincial visits was the tracking of learner performance throughout the year. We are now looking at how learners have performed in the mid-year examinations and providing specific support for struggling learners. Some provinces have done better than others in this respect but the meeting resolved that as we prepare for the last push before the examinations, provinces will focus on ensuring they provide adequate support to learners.
The review session conducted by the DBE in each of the nine PEDs has confirmed the following:
Provinces are doing their best to give attention to the issues raised in previous reports. However budgetary constraints are a limiting factor. Monitoring capacity in a number of PEDs is constrained by funding. Independent centres that are not accredited have to be managed by the PED and this is placing a strain on some Provincial Departments, this has been identified as a risk that needs to be attended to.
Based on the Profile of the 2017 learner cohort, the support and interventions provided in the system, we are confident learners are ready for the 2017 examinations albeit some changes in the subjects. We are pleased to report that we too are ready for the National Senior Certificate examinations from a systems perspective, so it is all systems go.
SGB ELECTION PREPARATION
The Education sector is preparing for School Governing Body elections once again. These take place every three years and the elections will take place during March next year. We urge all parents and guardians to familiarise themselves with procedures and to come forward and participate in these very important processes.
SGBs have a very important role to play in the way schools are managed and the South African Schools Act empowers communities through SGBs to be actively involved in the welfare of schools located in their areas.
Notices are currently being prepared and we would advise that parents and guardians look out for the gazetting of notices in their provinces.
SECOND CHANCE MATRIC SUPPORT PROGRAMME
We have been crisscrossing the country on a national roadshow campaign engaging with learners who are preparing to write their Matric examinations for the second time through the Second Chance Matric Support Programme of the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
The programme is designed to give out-of-school youth who have not been able to meet the requirements of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) the opportunity to get their matric or to improve their original results.
We have seen that there is incredible interest in this programme and roadshows have certainly been gaining momentum. We have so far been to seven of the nine provinces, encouraging those who are interested to register for the programme next year, and to highlight the support mechanisms for those who are preparing to write.
The Matric Certificate is an extremely valuable document, it gives people the opportunity to further their studies and improve their likelihood of employment. It is for this reason that we are giving those who have not managed to qualify for their matric a Second Chance to get a Matric and therefore a second chance at attaining a better and more prosperous life.
The programme has thus far been a huge success with thousands of young South Africans having registered to write the examinations in either the March supplementary sitting or the June sitting and 159 269 part time candidates have registered to write in November 2017. The programme’s innovative support mechanisms have resulted in a 5% increase in the results of the June examinations for this year compared to last year.
The Second Chance Programme also has a dedicated interactive Facebook page. Candidates can go and like the page on FB for personalised assistance, all they need to do is ask their questions via messenger and depending on the nature of the question the relevant official, be it a subject advisor or administration official will be on hand to give them the relevant advice. We would encourage all learners both from the Second Chance Matric Support Programme and those who are still in school to make use of these resources to ensure they pass these examinations well.
Corporal punishment is an issue that has once again raised its ugly head, we have seen extremely disturbing videos emerge on social media of disgusting misconduct by teachers. We have had reports from a number of provinces on different forms of corporal punishment that is still taking place in schools despite it being outlawed for more than 20 years.
It is evident by the emergence of the viral videos and reports from learner organisations that corporal punishment is still taking place in schools.
Disturbing statistics indicate that over 50% of learners have experienced corporal punishment at some point in their schooling and that it is on the increase.
South African schools are currently challenged by violence and disciplinary issues and these challenges including disrespect, absenteeism, late coming, neglect of school work, stealing, fighting, drug trafficking and initiation practices are not limited to learners alone.
In 2015 the Department hosted a School Safety Summit, addressing the “Elimination of Corporal Punishment in Schools”.
During the Summit, a task team was established among the stakeholders and was mandated to develop a draft Protocol dealing with incidences of corporal punishment in schools. The Department has developed the Protocol for the Elimination of Corporal Punishment in South African Schools.
This Protocol deals with the definitions of what constitutes corporal punishment, this includes instances where learners are publically humiliated by educators. It sets out a minimum set of sentences for those who have been found guilty of a form of corporal punishment. For example if a teacher is found guilty of grievous bodily harm that is a dismissible offence and teachers who physically harm learners will lose their jobs. The protocol also outlines the role of all stakeholders including parents in dealing with ill-discipline, and how schools should deal with complaints.
We understand that in many cases teachers need to be trained in alternative discipline techniques and the second phase of the protocol will look at behaviour interventions and support, essentially positive ways of disciplining learners. We also believe teachers need to make use of de-escalation techniques so that situations that could lead to violence can be taken down a notch to avoid such. Teachers should work on a positive reward system rather than that of punishment and we are working closely with UNICEF on this project.
Corporal punishment is a manifestation of the violence that is endemic in South African society and in many ways is used to exert a form of control. Often parents expect and demand teachers use ‘mild’ forms of corporal punishment, as it is believed to be an important part of teaching children discipline. This practice is prohibited in schools as parents cannot abdicate their responsibility to discipline their children.
The Protocol to Deal with Incidences of Corporal Punishments in Schools is essentially to highlight the abolishment of corporal punishment in schools and to provide clear guidance to provinces, districts and schools on how to deal with issues of corporal punishment.
The protocol aims to create a national framework to standardise the education sector’s response to corporal punishment and to facilitate implementation of the prohibition of corporal punishment throughout the education system and embed the Positive Behaviour Intervention Systems programmes – in order to empower all stakeholders to respond constructively towards learner ill-discipline.
Learners are now empowered with technology which is assisting the Department to manage and root out this practice.
SCHOOLS THAT WORK
The DBE has developed a strategy to support poor performing schools based on the lessons learned from the June 2007 Pam Christie Ministerial pilot study on Schools that Work (STW) whose main findings were that such schools:
- Have highly committed principals, teachers and learners;
- Organise teaching and learning well;
- Are effectively led and managed; and
- Acknowledge, praise and motivate learners and teachers in public ways for good performance.
The Strategy is also based on the 2016/7 Auditor-General’s findings, the NEEDU report and the DBE oversight visits to provinces.
The strategy is aimed at the role of school principals to ensure that teaching in the school takes place as it should, according to the national curriculum, and also understands their role as leaders whose responsibility is to promote harmony, creativity and a sound work ethic within the school community and beyond in line with the stipulations of the Personnel Administrative Measure (PAM) which prescribe their responsibility among others as:
- Professional management of the school;
- Implementation of educational programmes;
- Management of educators and support staff;
- Safekeeping of all school records; and
- Implementation of policy and legislation.
The strategy contains practical suggestions for principals to implement to address the challenges they face. It has simplified tools to assist school principals to improve accountability in the school by focusing on the following four pillars:
- Strengthening the culture of performance management within the school;
- Simplifying and aligning the evaluation instruments;
- Strengthening monitoring and support; and
- Strengthening reporting at all levels.
The tools can be electronically adapted so as to be able to calculate for an example, the amount of time lost through absenteeism and late coming in schools where there are no systems. The strategy was shared with principals during the 2016 Director-General roadshows to provinces from which the need to document the strategy arose with requests from principals and officials to have the presentation emailed to them.
The implementation of the strategy will support the DBE’s intervention programme in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal (LIMECKZN) led by Dr Maboya.
We are concerned that the situation in Vuwani has not changed. The shutdown is still in place and schools are still closed. What concerns us the most is the fact that the disruptions have affected learners particularly those in Grade 12 as they could not finish writing their preliminary examinations. In total there are 29,000 learners including 1,600 matriculants whose future is in jeopardy. Earlier this week we presented a catch-up plan to the Portfolio Committee which we hope to implement when the situation improves. We hope that the continued engagement between stakeholders will yield some positive outcomes that will create a conducive environment for learning and teaching to resume.
RESOURCING MODEL FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
The CEM was presented with a proposal for discussion on the resourcing of inclusive education in the sector.
It proposed National Guidelines for Resourcing an Inclusive Education System that deals with resourcing as it relates to the inclusive education system as a whole. This system comprises Special Schools, Special Schools/Resource Centres, Full-service Schools, Ordinary Public Schools, and District-based Support Teams. It addresses barriers in two focal areas: 1) teaching and learning and 2) psycho-social and health support.
The document motivates for the development of an integrated and holistic approach which does not separate support provisioning of special and ordinary schools from that of districts and aims at strengthening support to all learners who experience barriers to learning in the system on a continuum from low to high intensity support.
The Guidelines must be seen as a key procedure to ensure the transformation of the education system towards an inclusive education system in line with the prescripts of Education White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education: Building an Inclusive Education and Training System (2001).
By introducing a centralised and district-based approach towards rationalising support services, there will be more cost-effective, efficient and equitable use of scarce resources such as specialised support professionals, equipment and assistive technology.
The introduction of outreach services delivered on a mobile basis from the central support node of the District-based Support Team, Special School Resource Centre and Full-Service Schools will ensure that all learners will be able to access support in ordinary schools, reducing the need for referral for placement in special schools, except in the case of learners who need high intensity and high frequency support.
The challenge faced all along has been to reconfigure and radically transform the current funding system which directs all funding targeting the support needs of learners with special needs (including learners with disabilities) into segregated special schools. This funding model has left little or no funding to provide support in ordinary schools, thereby seriously impeding the expansion of Inclusive Education as envisaged in Education White Paper 6 (2001). CEM approved this set of guidelines for public comment.
The CEM noted the ongoing impasse between Safa and Sasfa that continues to impact negatively on schools football. The Council called on the various role-players to find amicable solutions in the interest of sports and schools football. The Council established a sub-committee, to be convened by the MEC of Limpopo Mr Ishmael Kgetjepe to advise it on matters related to school sports in general, and football in particular.
Progress has been made in many areas around curriculum initiatives.
We are ready to start to roll out the National Integrated Assessment Framework (NIAF) next year. With these National Assessments we will be assessing Grade’s 3,6, and 9. There will be three tiers to these assessments: they will consist of systematic assessments, diagnostic assessments and summative assessments.
The systematic and diagnostic assessments will start in 2018, and the plan is to have the summative assessment in 2019.
With regards to the roll out of the three stream education system, we are very excited to report that huge progress has been made with regards to the roll out of the technical vocational education stream. We have strengthened the technical vocational education pathway and have introduced specialisations such as fitting and machining, welding and construction to name a few. We have also strengthened these subjects by introducing technical mathematics and technical science.
These subjects were offered to Grade 10 last year and this year we have a cohort of Grade 11’s and next year we will take it to the Grade 12 level.
With regards to the Occupational Vocational stream we are in the process of formalising the curriculum that will be on offer.
We are also going to strengthen schools that offer sector specific skills (Focus Schools) for example, agricultural schools, and hotel and tourism schools among others. We are also working closely with major industry players and the relevant SETAs to provide work based learning opportunities.