Science and Technology Minister: Honourable Ms Naledi Pandor
Local Traditional Leaders
Representatives of the Local Municipality
Professor Muronga: Executive Dean of Science, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Ms Netshilaphala: Acting Superintendent-General, Eastern Cape Department of Education
Director-General of the Department of Science and Technology
Director-General of the Department of Basic Education
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me pleasure to speak at this auspicious occasion meant to demonstrate the Government’s unyielding commitment to improving learner outcomes in the arena of Maths, Science and Technology (MST) subjects in particular and basic education in general. The new state-of-the-art Cofimvaba Science Centre will amongst other things provide:
- Cutting edge knowledge in the MST subjects to all learners.
- Leverage the use of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the delivery of the MST curriculum.
- Enhance the pedagogical knowledge of the MST teachers.
- Provide space for regular MST exhibitions to enhance practical understanding of the MST field.
Programme Director, it is no coincidence that today’s sod-turning event takes place barely 48hrs after the country marked the 40th Anniversary of the Soweto Uprising. We have come to a determination that the best legacy we can give to the heroes and heroines of June 16, 1976 is to accelerate progress towards the delivery of an improved quality basic education. We want the 1976 generation to know that their bravely was not in vain. We call on all young people to dip their banners in honour of the 1976 generation, and more importantly to focus more on their studies.
We are also fortunate that this sod-turning occurs when we celebrate the 61st Anniversary of the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter unambiguously declared that:
“The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be opened!”
We are also mindful that the year 2016 marks the 20th Anniversary of our world-renowned Constitution which also enshrines the right of young people to a basic education. The Constitution states that all young people must have access to a universal, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.
Equally, the National Development Plan Vision 2030 (NDP) states that education is a means to building an inclusive society and providing opportunities for South Africans to realise their full potential.
Today’s event marks an important milestone in that all organs of state are involved including private sector bodies. It is through partnerships of this nature that we hope to upscale our work in the arena of Maths, Science and Technology.
We are also responding to the call made by NDP. The 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 within the State sector and more broadly with the private sector. It therefore exhorts us to devise,
“A more focused approach [to partnerships], and inter-sectoral co-operations.”
In the same vein, the NDP identifies Maths, Science and Technology as one of the “Key Drivers of Change”. The NDP exhorts us in particular to increase the number of learners eligible for Bachelors programme with Mathematics and Physical Science to 450 000 by 2030.
Programme Director, the reality of the situation is that we are unable as Government alone to drive the radical change in the MST space hence the need for partnerships and private sector investment in this area.
In her 2015/16 Budget Speech, the Honourable Minister of Basic Education Mrs Angie Motshekga made a strategic announcement that Mathematics is now to be taught in all schools. She went further and announced the reconfiguration of the Dinaledi Maths programme.
The Minister in her wisdom with the concurrence of the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) launched the new conditional grant namely, the Maths, Science and Technology (MST) conditional grant.
The purpose of the grant is to strengthen the implementation of the National Development Plan and the Action Plan 2019 by increasing the number of learners taking Mathematics, Science and Technology subjects. We are also hell-bent in improving the success rate in the MST subjects and while simultaneously improving the teachers’ content knowledge. The grant will also focus on the game-changer – the provision of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) resources to schools and training of teachers especially at Senior Phase and Technical Schools during the MTEF periods.
To demonstrate our unyielding commitment to the need to upscale the MST programme, in our recent Budget Speech, the Minister allocated to the MST conditional grant a total allocation of R1.2 billion over the 2016 MTEF (R362.4 million in 2016/17, R385.1 million in 2017/18 and R407.5 million in 2017/18).
Programme Director, particularly pleasing is that our very first Science Centre in the Eastern Cape is being launched here in Cofimvaba. This region is one of the best performing districts in the province in terms of the National Senior Certificate. Secondly, Cofimvaba is the birthplace of South Africa’s foremost revolutionary and a martyr Comrade Chris Hani.
In conclusion, Programme Director, the reality of the situation is that we are unable to achieve all our desired targets alone as Government, hence the need for partnerships and private sector investment in Maths, Science and Technology.
Our view is that the most effective partnerships are where partners not only enrich each other but also find ways where they can mutually benefit. Our singular goal for any partnerships in education is to create space for social partners and the business community to assist in realising the achievement of Delivery Outcome 1 i.e. “Improved Quality of Basic Education”.
Programme director, through deeds not words, we are laying a solid foundation in the lives of our children.