Premier of KwaZulu-Natal
Mayor of eThekwini Cllr James Nxumalo
My Cabinet Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my singular honour and pleasure to address the 18th African Renaissance Conference. I must congratulate the organisers for reaching this milestone. It feels like it was yesterday when the first African Renaissance conference was held on the 28th September 1998.
Programme Director, the African Renaissance Conference is two years younger than our world renowned Constitution. However, the thread of rebirth runs through both the programme of the African Renaissance and our world renowned Constitution.
South Africa’s Constitution enjoins her people, “to heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.”
Similarly, the concept of African Renaissance is about the rebirth and reawakening of the African people to become their own liberators. Africa must heal the divisions of the past. We must as Africans establish societies based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights. These must become routine not an exception. In the process, we are called upon to be midwives of a new African whose sense of belonging to the African continent makes her to jealously guard her independence.
Our continent is on cusp of regaining its shine as the narrative of Africa Rising gathers momentum. The narrative of Africa Rising is embedded in the idea of a rebirth of our continent as a sanctuary of peace, progress and new wave of civilisation. We are called upon to banish into the recesses of our mind, an African continent whose birth is stillborn. The new imagined Africa is not crisis-ridden and/or war-torn. We have a responsibility to reimagine and reshape our continent as an oasis of freedom, democracy and peace.
Programme Director, for Africa to achieve her renaissance, we must as Africans ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions about our conduct – both as political actors and big business. Are we the best people as today’s leaders to drive Africa’s renaissance? Are we able to marshal all resources – human and financial to remake our continent? Is there a political will to harness the productive capacities of our people for the new dawn?
Interestingly, the most troubling question about our continent was posed more than a decade ago – that question is - Why are – “the children of Africa, from north to south, from the east and the west and at the very centre of our continent, continue to be consumed by death dealt out by those who have proclaimed a sentence of death on dialogue and reason.” This question posed by former President Thabo Mbeki in 1998 is as relevant today as it was then.
Despite this, the new dawn is rising. I can hear the drums of the son of Africa, the Senegalese singer Mr. Youssou N'Dour in the distance. The African drum says Africa’s time has come.
We have to state categorically clear that the children of Africa have had enough. We must say enough and no more! No more civil wars, no more political strife, no more refugee camps, and no more malnourished children. We ask the gods for warm ray of sunshine. We have had the winter of discontent for far too long.
Of course, we are encouraged by the stories emanating from Rwanda wherein almost the whole country is a construction site. And, the largest city in Rwanda, Kigali is arguable the cleanest city on the continent. Apparently, Rwandan’s obsession with cleanliness is a lesson from the 1994 genocide. If you ask the Rwandan people about their cleanliness – they tell you that in 1994, all they had to do after the genocide was to clean, clean and clean the streets.
We sing with joy as we hear that Kenya has become the second country in East Africa after Rwanda to offer free Wi-Fi to the public. We are extremely proud as Africans that Nigeria has had a peaceful democratic change of government from one civilian administration to another. Egypt has become the second largest economy in the continent despite persisted political upheavals.
Yes, in 2016, we can proudly say from east to the south, the new dawn has come. We are enamoured by the World Bank forecast of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth that is expected to average 5% in 2016. According to economists, the Africa’s growth trajectory will soon be closing in on the impressive growth levels last seen before the 2008/09 global economic crisis.
Programme Director, despite the challenges, it is indeed true that Africa is Rising. Africa’s new dawn has arrived. Most children of Africa who not so many years ago needed only a blanket to survive the cold winters in the refugee camps are today proudly connected to the battery powered Wi-Fi and are able to live productive lives.
On the supply side, many African countries have improved their investment climate and conditions for doing business, which enhance long-term growth prospects. Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Senegal and Togo are even in the top ten countries worldwide with the most reforms making it easier to do business. Africa’s supply side growth in 2014 was mainly driven by agriculture, extractive industries, construction and services, and to a lesser extent by manufacturing. But economists say that sectoral growth should not be seen in isolation, as there are important spill-overs between sectors.
Furthermore, modernisation and structural transformation, the process by which new, more productive activities arise and resources move from traditional activities to these newer ones, is also happening within some sectors. For instance Nigeria’s growth of 6.3% came mainly from non-oil sectors showing that the economy is diversifying.
To complete the puzzle of Africa Rising narrative, there are vital things that we must do and we must do them well.
Firstly, we must invest more on Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) driven basic education and upscale our investment in research and development. There is a massive untapped talent of young people in this continent who are hungry for re-skilling in the context of the new economies.
Secondly, at macro level, we must move with speed to achieve the process of seamless travel within the continent. We cannot do this without increasing investment in transversal infrastructure which will lead to the ease of travelling and doing business in the continent improving substantially.
With regard to the investment in the ICTs, Programme Director, I am pleased to say South Africa is beginning the journey (albeit late) towards the ICTs driven basic education in earnest. We are poised to address the skills deficit by 2030. Research shows that basic education, if done right, is a prerequisite for tackling poverty and promoting short and long-term economic growth.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education
We are happy to report that through Operation Phakisa, we have been able to agree on the ICT in Education implementation action plan. Programme Director for the benefit of many in my audience - allow me to explain what Operation Phakisa is. This is a results-driven approach, involving setting clear plans and targets, on-going monitoring of progress and making these results public.
The methodology consists of eight sequential steps. It focusses on bringing key stakeholders from the public and private sectors, academia as well as civil society organisations together to collaborate in:
- detailed problem analysis;
- priority setting;
- intervention planning; and
These collaboration sessions are called laboratories (labs). The results of the labs are detailed (3 foot) plans with ambitious targets as well as public commitment on the implementation of the plans by all stakeholders. The implementation of the plans are rigorously monitored and reported on. Implementation challenges are actively managed for effective and efficient resolution.
Programme Director; the Operation Phakisa - ICT in Education Lab took place from 7th September to 2nd October 2015; and emerged with exciting ICT in Education initiatives, as well as costed implementation plans, for the next 4-5 years. The initiatives focus on fast-tracking the provision of Internet connectivity and technologies in schools, but more importantly, ensures that teachers and administrators are equipped with the appropriate training and content to advance the vision for 21st century schools.
The plans emanating from the Lab have been fine-tuned to target persistent challenges and priority areas of Government, while exploring cost-effective and affordable rollout of solutions which potentially have high impact. The Department of Basic Education’s partners and sister State departments are on board and fully support the plans to leverage the power of ICTs to enhance and deliver quality basic education.
As an example, in 2016 alone some 2 892 schools will be connected to the internet and will also receive training and ICT devices to support teaching, learning and e-Administration. Government is proud to enhance learning by affording our learners with new sets of skills and providing access to additional digital resources and learning material to all learners in South Africa.
Our flagship ICT project, namely, the DBE Cloud is in its final stages of development and will be up and running with a full and complete learner management system before the end of this year. The Cloud will be used for storing, distributing and accessing online digital content, as well as providing curriculum delivery support services.
Addressing the Skills Challenge
The South Africa’s Vision 2030, the National Development Plan unequivocally states that:
“Improved education … will lead to higher employment and earnings, while more rapid economic growth will broaden opportunities for all and generate the resources required to improve education.”
In this regard, we have just introduced curriculum differentiation through the Three Stream Model – occupational, technical and vocational streams. The preparation of the sector for the introduction of Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for Technical Schools in Grade 10 in January 2016 has been completed. The alignment of technical-vocational programmes and technical-occupational programmes offered at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges would be achieved after the alignment of curriculum with schools offering technical subjects. A Task Team between Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education and Training has been set up to develop a concept document on the alignment of TVET programmes and basic education qualifications. The draft concept document has been finalised.
The preparation for the implementation of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) for Technical Schools in Grade 10 for 2016 has been successfully completed in November 2015. The schools are currently implementing the revised curriculum at Grade 10 and are geared towards implementing it incrementally in Grades 11 and 12 in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
We have successfully trained 1 330 teachers and subject advisors in the technology subjects including the skills specialisations, especially in Technical Mathematics and Technical Sciences.
The strengthening of the Technical Schools will go a long way in playing a key role in achieving the goals of the National Development Plan which is to triple the number of artisanal skilled people by 2030.
In conclusion, Programme Director: allow me a poetic licence to dream of a new Africa. The new imagined Africa is at peace with itself and her children can dream and long for endless joy. To deliberately misquote the son of Africa, Ben Orki, the children of Africa, are longing for, “an early homecoming, to play by the river, in the grasslands, and in the magic caves. We longed to meditate on sunlight and precious stone, and to be joyful in the eternal dew of the spirit….” Programme Director, the children of Africa deserve better.
I thank you.