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Speech by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, at the 1st Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) Roundtable Discussion held at the DBE, Pretoria, 01 April 2015.

 

Programme Director

Minister of Finance: Mr. Nhlanhla Nene

Basic Education Deputy Minister: Mr. Enver Surty

Basic Education Acting Director-General

All State Senior Officials 

Non-Governmental Organisations Leadership

Universities Leadership

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen 

 

Thank you for coming to attend this very important gathering. This is the 1st Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) Roundtable discussion and we view it as a vitally important engagement as many of you are important stakeholders and suppliers of the department.

I am hoping that today’s discussion would have assist in demystifying the myths around Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM) and in the process strengthen the strategic partnership between ourselves and the book publishing and manufacturing industry.

 

It was not by coincidence that the Reading Roundtable was held a day before this LTSM Roundtable. Before you give anyone a tool, it is vital to educate them on the importance of the tool. The basis of learning and teaching is being able to decode the message through various channels including reading.

 

Background

The Department of Basic Education has worked extremely hard over the years to positively change the learning and teaching landscape in South Africa in a quest to deliver state funded quality education in our lifetime. As a result of our relentless efforts, we can proudly say we have successful provided near universal access to learning and teaching material. We are convinced that LTSM is at the centre of quality learning and teaching.

According to the Statistics South Africa, General Household Survey, 2002-2011, our provision of textbooks to learners has improved tremendously, in 2002 the reports indicated that around 21% of learners experienced shortages of textbooks while in 2011 it was only 6%. The General Household Survey (GHS) of 2013 indicates that the percentage of Grades 10 to 12 having access to textbooks ranges from 79% to 82%.  Textbook coverage has moved from 45% in 2007 to an average of over 95% in 2015.

Achievements To Date

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that each learner is provided with a minimum set of textbooks for a particular grade. Over and the above the Policy Development and Oversight Responsibility, the DBE is also responsible for the development of National Catalogues of textbooks for provinces to procure from.  These catalogues are specifications where provinces and schools (where applicable) make their selection.

The development of catalogues has in the past been the responsibility of Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). The decentralised development of catalogues proved to be costly and create inequalities amongst provinces. It is for this reason that the development of catalogues has been assumed by the DBE.

The investment made regarding the procurement of LTSM over the past four (4) years amounts to more than R9, 4 billion. This investment has gone a long way in ensuring the near universal coverage of providing learners in all grades for all subjects with learning material.

The textbook orders for 2015 were in the main ONLY TOP-UPS. Provinces placed textbook orders worth more than R3 billion for the 2015 school year. I am pleased to announce that at present, reports from provinces indicate that we have achieved near universal coverage of 99% nationally.

As part of policy development, the Department guided provinces regarding textbook retention and retrieval to ensure that the sector does not perpetually procure textbooks. Reports from provinces show that provinces have made retrieval and retention of textbooks a priority in all schools. Retrieval rate presently stands at 90% in all provinces.

The Department has developed and submitted a guide to provinces for other essential LTSM that is not listed in the national textbook catalogue. This Catalogue was aimed at enabling provinces to procure the necessary equipment, appliances, apparatus and consumables that are needed to implement the curriculum effectively.

The Department has also recently developed the South African Sign Language Catalogue. As recommended by the Ministerial Task Team regarding the development of LTSM, the Department has over the years developed its own textbooks for certain subjects and grades in collaboration with Siyavula and Sasol Inzalo. These materials were electronically made available for provinces to print, and be delivered to schools.

In addition to the LTSM already procured over the years, the DBE has developed a plan for the State to develop, print and deliver its own textbooks to schools. Textbooks to be developed by the State in the near future are not limited to certain grades.

The DBE commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) to provide an external evaluation of the workbooks and Grade 10 Mathematics and Physical Sciences textbooks. ACER’s 2013 report was extremely positive about the quality of the resources, and their actual use.

1.      In the future, the DBE will continue to develop more State produced textbooks.

2.      Over and above the development of textbooks, the DBE has since 2011 been developing, printing and distributing Grades 1 – 9 workbooks to schools. Subsequently, the department has expanded the workbooks project to Grade R. For the 2015 academic year, a total of 56 million workbooks were printed and delivered to 23 760 schools.

3.      To support learners with visual impairment in the absence of braille textbooks, the DBE also adapted workbooks to Braille. These have been printed and delivered to the 22 special schools. The Braille workbooks are for Grades 1 – 6 Mathematics and Mathematics toolkits, Home language in all 11 official languages, and Grades 1 – 3 Home language toolkits. The Department is currently adapting Grades 7 – 9 Mathematics workbooks to Braille.

Understanding the LTSM Process

Ladies and gentlemen, it must be noted that DBE is mandated to develop the national catalogues of textbooks, while Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) are responsible for procuring for schools in their province as well as to ensure that the procured books are delivered to each school.

 

Each year the DBE develops a Sector Plan to guide and set timelines for provinces to procure LTSM in readiness for the new school calendar year by November of the previous school year. The plan is sent to provinces. Provinces are then requested to align their Management Plans to that of the DBE.

 

Therefore, it is critically important for all stakeholders to understand the process of LTSM delivery:

 

·         Schools place orders based on projected numbers by June – July.

·         PEDs place orders with publishers July – August.

·         Publishers deliver to PEDs warehouses Sept – Oct.

·         Managing agents deliver to schools Oct – Nov.

·         Schools declare shortages Jan – Feb.

·         Top up orders placed by PEDs Jan – Feb.

·         Top up deliveries Feb – March.

 

Centralised Ordering

One of the key recommendations of the Ministerial Task Team for Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) constituted in February 2010, was for the reconfiguring of the role of government and private companies in the LTSM provision space. In this regard a system of nationally centralised ordering of LTSM was recommended. The Ministerial Task Team’s sub-recommendations included that DBE shall be provided with sufficient information for decision-making in-order to ensure decentralised delivery and tracking systems.  

The presentation from my colleague in the National treasury has already illustrated the benefits of this process and has shown the huge savings based on the economies of scale that can be made through Centralised Procurement. Using our experience in Limpopo Province as an example where the catalogue price for a Mathematics textbook was R70, but with the economies of scale using the method of central procurement we were able to purchase the textbook at R39. In the process we managed to purchase of 117 thousand copies which yielded a saving of R3 627 000 on a single textbook in one province.

Transformation in the Publishing Industry

The department has done an analysis of who benefits the most in the current procurement process through the National Catalogue. The analysis indicates a few publishing companies have dominated the LTSM space procurement for all Grades.

It is very unfortunate that the Grade 1 - 12 catalogue did not favour small South African Publishing companies. The department has learnt from these mistakes and they are about to be corrected.

The Move Towards a Core Textbook Per-Subject Per-Grade

Sub-Outcome 2 of the National Development Plan and MTSF Priorities calls for improved quality of teaching and learning through provision of adequate, Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM).

The outcome of Goal 19 of the Basic Education Sector Action Plan 2014-2019 is to ensure that every learner has access to the minimum set of textbooks and workbooks required according to national policy. The LTSM is one of the 10 non-negotiables of Government – one textbook per-Grade per-subject.

 

At its 2012 Mangaung National Conference, the African National Congress agreed to “adopt a centralized approach in the procurement of textbooks, stationery and other teaching materials”. The ANC resolved further to provide “uniform and standardised textbooks ... to all learners across the system”. The move towards core textbooks per subject and grade has already been agreed to by Council of Education Ministers (CEM). This Roundtable is intended to allay fears regarding the core textbook agenda. The main fear raised is that many publishing companies will close and thousands of jobs will be lost. These claims are unfounded because the number of textbooks to be printed would be the same regardless of the number of titles listed in the National Catalogue. The availability of multiple copies of textbooks provides teachers with the opportunity to choose the language level and approach that they feel is most appropriate to their school/classes. Teachers “need a variety of knowledge sources” for teaching. The campaigners against the new approach must also take note that the department is well aware that some of the printing is done outside of the country.

 

Learners have traditionally been using one core textbook and will continue to do so. However, this does not mean that a leaner will use only one textbook, but would rather have supplementary materials. This effectively means that the DBEs plan is misunderstood and we hope to  allay some fears within the affected stakeholders.

Over and above the provision of one core textbook, the department is striving towards ensuring that there are enough supplementary and reference material to support the leaners.  The DBE will still develop a catalogue for supplementary and reference material.

The worry is also deepened by the fact that no mention is made regarding the departments plan to increase access to libraries in schools and ensuring that every new school has a library and the necessary LTSM in the library.

e-LTSM

 

The Department is currently in the process of developing Terms of Reference (ToR) to introduce e-LTSM. The definition of e-LTSM will be entailed in the ToR, i.e. devices, interactive books, software, etc. Furthermore, the Western Cape and Gauteng provinces have implemented the procurement of e-LTSM where devices (tablets) and e-books have been procured.

 

Library Resourcing

 

Whilst the sector has made headway in addressing the textbooks and stationery supply in schools, there are still challenges facing the Library resourcing space. Through the savings and cost effective measures that are being put in place regarding the provisioning of textbooks and other material, these savings would channelled towards Library resourcing. This is part of the LTSM Policy proposal that states “30% of the LTSM budget should be used for Library resourcing going forward”. This is due to the fact that the sector is fairly stable with regards to the provisioning of textbooks and stationery. 

The sector is relying on primary stakeholders such as publishers to develop and make these resources available to learners in an efficient and cost effective method.

The sector is also imploring material developers to make use of African writers to ensure that the content in these Library resources is bias towards the representation of South African learners.     Programme Director, may I take this opportunity to acknowledge the strides that have already been made with the implementation of new innovations in LTSM, although much still needs to be done.

In conclusion, I am inviting all stakeholders to open a dialogue where we are able to discuss and understand the future of LTSM.

 I thank you.

 

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 1/11/2016
Number of Views: 726

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