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Speech Delivered by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, on the Occasion of the Official Opening of the Sonyongwana High School - KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 24 May 2016

Programme Director

Premier of KwaZulu-Natal

KZN MEC for Education

Deputy Mayor

CEO of Rheinmetall Denel Muni: Mr. Norbert Schulze

School Governing Body Chairperson and Members

Parents and Learners

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen


Programme Director, it is with humility and pride that today, we honour the covenant of our Constitution by increasing access of young people to quality basic education.

Programme Director; by your presence here today confirms your unyielding commitment to the cause of quality education, entrenchment of our hard won freedom and heightened service delivery for all our people. It further confirms your determination to be an integral part of the struggle to overcome poverty, inequality and unemployment. "A nation that does not take care of its youth has no future and does not deserve one," so eloquently said former ANC President Oliver Tambo. Comrade Tambo’s seminal words are actually accentuated by academic research into the importance of basic education.  Research confirms that basic education helps to fight poverty and spur economic growth. According to the 2010 Global Campaign for Education (GCE) report basic education is considered, “a prerequisite for tackling poverty and promoting short and long-term economic growth. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write”.

At an individual level, a person’s earnings increase with each additional year of schooling they receive. This is especially true for additional years of higher education. Thus, people who are educated are able to earn more money and support their families, which helps economies to grow faster and poverty rates to decline.

Programme Director; as part of our historical mission to bring about a better life for our people, education continues to remain an apex priority. The ANC–led Government has made great strides in ensuring that education and training is available to all and in addressing the injustices of the past. We are deliberating focusing on reversing the systemic impact of apartheid education; hence we have put in place a comprehensive and integrated education system. We can only make a dent on the triple challenges facing our country if we invest in the future of our youth.

 We, as a people of this country have a lot to celebrate although challenges abounds. We have certainly come a long way in providing access to education in South Africa.  Nearly all children in South Africa now have access to a complete primary schooling. 

In 1970, only 43 000 people attained a matric qualification.  Forty-five years later, this figure has increased 11-fold to over 500 000. Over the last 10 years, grade completion rates have continued to improve, especially amongst black youths. Other notable achievements include:

  • 0 - 4 year olds: Participation of 0 - 4 year olds in Early Childhood Development (ECD) facilities has increased from 8% in 2002 to 48% in 2014.
  • Grade R participation: Increase in 5 year olds attending educational institutions from about 40% in 2002 to 87% in 2014.
  • Primary Education: Participation of 7 to 13 year olds has remained high at 99% in 2014.
  • Compulsory Education: Increase in 7 to 15 year olds attending educational institutions from 96% in 2002 to 99% in 2014.
  • Secondary Education: Increase in 14 to 18 year olds attending educational institutions from 88% in 2002 to approximately 91% in 2014.
  • Participation in the Further Education and Training (FET) Band: Participation of 16 to 18 year olds remained at 86% in 2014.

The year 2016 marks 22 years since the 1994 Democratic Breakthrough. The governing party, the African National Congress proclaims that in many ways, we have entered a second phase in our transition. It requires bold and decisive steps to eradicate the stubborn legacy of apartheid. We need to ensure all our people are able to enjoy the fruits of freedom. In this regard, we remain steadfast. We will not betray the cause of freedom.

However, the basic education sector is facing an, “elephant in the room.” That large elephant is the stubbornly high drop-out rates from Grades 9 to 12.  Similarly, we need to address the low uptake and throughput in Mathematics and Science. The Government is doing everything in its power to improve learner outcomes in these two crucial subjects.

In this regard, the National Development Plan (NDP) has set a target of 450 000 learners being eligible for a Bachelor's programme with Maths and Science by 2030. In the meantime the NDP exhorts us to increase the number of enrolments in Maths and Science. It further says 90% of learners in Grades 3, 6 and 9 must achieve 50% or more in the Annual National Assessment (ANA) in Literacy, Numeracy/Mathematics and Science.

To achieve this, we have made a determination that all public schools must offer some sort of Mathematics or Mathematics Literacy as of 2015/16 financial year. We are also promoting Mathematics/Science subjects choice combination for Grade 10 learners so that they can take these subjects to the Matric level.

Programme Director, I am happy to report that we have increased our arsenal in the arena of Mathematics and Science. During our 2015/16 Budget Speech we announced a new conditional grant, namely the Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) grant. This Grant is intended to promote the teaching and learning of Mathematics, Science and Technology in our schools.

Despite registering gains in Mathematics and Science, Programme Director, we must admit that there is a crisis and we need help from the partners in the private sector and non-governmental organisations to act jointly with us in addressing this challenge. Some measures taken to address the low throughput rate is the introduction of the Second Chance Matric Programme, as well as curriculum differentiation through the - Three Stream Model – occupational, technical and vocational.

Our efforts in accelerating quality and efficiency are receiving urgent attention at the highest level of Government. In this regard, we have come to a determination that the game-changer is the introduction and increase exploitation of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). Together with our sister departments, we are on course to leverage the power of ICTs to enhance and deliver quality basic education.  We are convinced that the full exploitation of ICTs will give all our learners the much needed 21st century skills set.

Programme Director, we are all aware that greatest contributor to the true economic freedom in our lifetime is basic education that allows young people to have 21st skills. South Africans need sustainable skills that will take us to the next level of our freedom. These are skills that will evoke new inventions and sustain old inventions.  These skills are rooted in technology, engineering processes, and manufacturing.  All these require that we have a deep foundation (Maths and Science) which will give us a solid ground of implementation. 

Programme Director, it is therefore with a sense of awe that this school has a dedicated programme to focus on Mathematics, Technology and Science. These are gateway subjects in the 21st century. We are eternally indebted to Rheinmetall Denel Muni for this partnership. The National Development Plan (NDP) enjoins us to build partnerships for education reform and improved quality. It acknowledges that:

“Many corporate foundations, faith-based foundations have offered their expertise as part of a national initiative to support schools to improve learning outcomes.”

The NDP is alive to the challenge of coordination in our interface with the NGO sector in particular and corporate foundations in general. It therefore exhorts us to devise,

“A more focused approach [to partnerships], and inter-sectoral co-operations.”

Programme Director, the reality of the situation is that we are unable as Government alone to yank the basic education from its current morass hence the need for partnerships and private sector investment in education.

Addressing the 2014 National Teachers Awards, President Jacob Zuma put it succinctly when he said:

“Education is a societal issue and requires all sectors and communities to work together.”

The beauty of this partnership is that Rheinmetall Denel Munition is bringing a holistic approach in addressing the issue of Maths and Science in basic education.

We are looking at the Rheinmetall Denel Munition programme as a model that can take the country forward. We would like to thank Rheinmetall Denel Munition for this project and would challenge other companies to do the same with their Corporate Social Investment Funds.  We would like to see duplication of this model throughout the disadvantaged areas of our country.  .

This initiative will definitely change the lives of the children of this area.  When we change the face of the school, we are changing the lives of the community thus achieving our broader goal of a Better Life for All. The current high levels of poverty in this area of Madzikane go against our mission to bring a Better Life for All. We urge all learners and parents to fully embrace the new school – protect it from vandals and make the most of opportunities it offers. This School must be turned into safe, peaceful, stable institution of teaching and learning, that’s only way to keep our partnership with the Rheinmetall Denel Munition.

In conclusion, As the Ministry of Basic Education, we are truly indebted to the Rheinmetall Denel Munition for the brain power, innovation and financial injection behind our partnership.  Finally, let me talk to all learners about our exciting campaign to get South Africa reading. The reading campaign dubbed Read to Lead is a four-year campaign to create a national focus to improve the reading abilities of all South African children.  It seeks to provide energy, as well as direction and inspiration, across all levels of the education system as well as in homes and the public domain to ensure that by 2019, all learners are able to demonstrate age appropriate levels of reading.  The campaign is a national response to national, regional and international studies that have shown over a number of years that South African children are not able to read at expected levels, and are unable to execute tasks that demonstrate key skills associated with Literacy.

Getting young people to read and write for school, for leisure, and even in the world of work, is a critical aspect of the development of the social fabric of our country.  We need to ensure that South Africa becomes a reading nation.

I thank you.

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Written By: WebMaster WebMaster
Date Posted: 5/24/2016
Number of Views: 1721

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