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Speech by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, on the Occasion of the Official Opening of the Valhalla Primary School, Western Cape, 27 March 2015

 

Programme Director - Dr. H. Brand

MEC for Education: Ms Debbie Schäfer

Councillor: Mr R. O'Connell

School Principal: Mr A.J Lochner

The Reverend: A. Allies

Outgoing SBG Chairperson and Ex-learner: Mr J. Mitchell

Distinguished Guests

Parents and Learners

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

 

 

Programme Director, it is with great joy and indeed an honour to be in the province of the Western Cape again to officially open the 11th  Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) State-of-the-Art Valhalla Primary School.

 

ASIDI is the flagship school build programme launched four years ago by the President of the Republic His Excellency Jacob Zuma.

 

The grand idea of the programme is to give expression to the Freedom Charter’s clarion call that boldly proclaimed that, “The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be opened!”

 

Programme Director; allow me to give the historical perspective to the document popularly known as the Freedom Charter. As the struggle for freedom reached a new intensity in the early fifties, the ANC saw the need for a clear statement on the future of South Africa. The idea of a Freedom Charter was born, and the Congress of the People Campaign was initiated.

 

During this campaign the ANC and its allies invited the whole of South Africa to record their demands so that they could be incorporated in a common document. The document would be accepted at the Congress of the People and would become the Freedom Charter. Thousands of people participated in the campaign and sent in their demands for the kind of South Africa they wished to live in. These demands found final expression in the Freedom Charter. The Congress of the People which adopted the Freedom Charter gathered at Kliptown, outside Johannesburg on June 25th and 26th in 1955. This was the largest gathering of people of all races at the time. The event itself was colourful and exciting.

 

I am pleased that the official opening of Valhalla Primary School coincides with the 60th celebration of the Freedom Charter. We salute those heroes and heroines, the Class of 1955, who in the face adversity chose to be on the right side of history and fought the apartheid regime against all odds. They were prepared to sacrifice life and limb in the pursuit of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa that turns 21 years this year. We do indeed owe a debt of gratitude to the millions of our people both black and white who refused to surrender and play dead while the apartheid regime pillaged our country’s resources and massacred our people.

 

In the honour of the Class of 1955, the ANC led government has placed education as an apex priority. In this regard, the government has made great strides in ensuring that education and training is available to all. We have gone beyond focusing on reversing the systemic impact of apartheid education, but, on delivering a comprehensive and integrated quality education system.

 

Today, South Africa spends about 5% of its GDP on basic education and 1, 4 % on higher education. This is showing significant results. Pre-school education has expanded massively. There is gender parity in school enrolment and we are doing really well in terms of the matric pass rate. We congratulate the Matric Class of 2014.

 

ASIDI is a massive R8.2-billion public-private programme, and is one of the government's Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs). In short ASIDI aims to eradicate the 527 "mud schools" in the country, and provide them with the basic amenities such as water, decent sanitation and electricity. By the time we complete this mammoth task we would have provided basic amenities to 1000 schools as part of restoring dignity to our people.

 

In the Western Cape alone the ASIDI programme is poised to deliver 25 State-of-the-Art schools especially for the previously disadvantaged communities.

 

Nationally, ASIDI has delivered 99 schools in rural and economically depressed areas to give all our children a more equal shot at life. These are indeed the dividends of democracy. Through ASIDI we have delivered eighty State-of-the-Art schools in the Eastern Cape, four in Mpumalanga, two in the Free State, two in Limpopo, and as I said earlier we have completed eleven schools in this province.

 

We are excited at the prospect of reaching the 100th School milestone. Our thinking is that when we reach the 100th ASIDI School mark, there should bells and whistles. In fact, I can confidently say that we will have more than 100 schools completed by the end of this current financial year i.e. in a few days’ time. This is a massive achievement by the Government in its quest to provide our children with decent school infrastructure and a nurturing school environment.  

 

Programme Director it is important to repeat this point as we always do when we open an ASIDI School. ASIDI is more than just brick and mortar but a programme to fundamentally change the learning landscape of underprivileged communities. We are now creating learning spaces of excellence. We are restoring the dignity of rural and underprivileged communities. We are creating chances for rural and underprivileged children to have decent structures and quality education so that they too can reap the rewards of a Better Life for All that often other people talk about. 

 

We must now pause and congratulate the Valhalla Primary School as it celebrates 35 years of existence. Historically established to service the Elsies River community, today it draws learners from as far as Parow, Bellville, Cravenby, Bishop Lavis, Delft, Matroosfontein and Khayelitsha. It is equally pleasing that the total revamp through the government investment of R37 million coincides with this important milestone. Your new school boasts of 32 classrooms, four of which are specialist classrooms - Computer Lab, Multimedia Centre, Multipurpose Centre and Science Lab. To underscore the importance of Early Childhood Development the new Valhalla Primary has three Grade R Classrooms. The cherry on top of course is that the School has internet connectivity which opens up a whole world of possibilities for learners. We have also provided eight offices in the Administration Block, 40 new Toilets, two of which are designated for the disabled. This is indeed a Good Story to Tell.

 

To the learners, as a government we have done our part to provide an environment that is conducive to learning; it is up to you now to grab the opportunities and shine. We believe that every child is a national asset hence we strive to provide the best infrastructure and dedicated teachers to all our children.

 

Sector Priorities 2014-2019

1.     LTSM - one text per grade per subject

 

·         A total revamp of the manner we are dealing with the provision of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) is in the offing.

·         We are now moving ahead with our plan to provide each learner - one textbook per-grade per-subject as per the dictates of the National Development Plan (NDP).

·         We will achieve this milestone through a centralized or transversal procurement process to maximize economies of scale.

 

 

2.     Infrastructure – basic services, maintenance

 

·         On infrastructure we are closely looking at costing, maintenance and management of all school buildings and physical plant to enable more effective use of infrastructure funds including development and transparency of unit costs.

·         There is great impetus in improving infrastructure through new built programme and maintenance. We are also focusing on the provision of basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation. 

All this is done under the auspices of our ground-breaking built programme dubbed Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI)

Further progress under ASIDI include

·         108 – Other schools under construction.

·         381 – Schools that have received water for the first time.

·         371 – Schools that have received decent sanitation.

·         289 – Schools that have been connected to electricity

 

3.     Districts – monitoring, support, improvement

 

·         We have created a new model for districts’ support and monitoring.

·         This gives us a better view of districts’ improvement plans implementation.

·         The plan to strengthen district operations has been packaged around four key pillars.

These are:

1) Ensuring a clear mandate and effective structure for districts through implementable but flexible norms and standards derived from existing policy.

2) Ensuring the appointment of the right people in the right roles in all districts, and raising the bar on accountability.

 3) Defining/norming a minimum resource package for district officials’ in-order for them to do their work properly.

4) Guide and improve effectiveness of school support through codified but flexible essential routines and operations.

4. Teacher Deployment and Placement

·         There is now a greater policy certainty around Teacher Deployment and Placement.  We have completed a nationwide teacher profiling which has provided us with a useful and accurate information i.e. skills base of our workforce.

·         This information will eliminate previous problems wherein Provincial Education Departments’ (PEDs) couldn’t deploy teachers correctly resulting in qualified teachers teaching subjects that they are not qualified to teach; teachers in addition to staff establishments not being deployed; vacancies remaining vacant for long periods of time; forecasting of the type of teachers that need to be trained being inaccurate.

·         And, sadly in some cases this resulted in the slow pace of placement of the Funza Lushaka and other bursars. These and other challenges will soon be the thing of the past.

5. ICT - Main focus area for Big Fast Results (Operation Phakisa)

·         We have in the basic education sector through the CEM, a body that represents all nine MEC’s and the Basic Education Ministry resolved that all schools should be ICT enabled and compliant by 2019.

·         To achieve this radical transformation agenda, we have already developed a preliminary business process plan on how to succeed in this area.

·         We have also resolved that there should a conditional grant for ICT. Talks with the Treasury in this regard have begun in earnest.

·         In addition, we have also resolved that the preliminary business process plan that we have developed need further scrutiny, and as such it will be referred to the Operation Phakisa Lab as part of broadening participation. The Operation Phakisa Labs are part of the business process to find fast big solutions to our intricate problems.

·         The Operation Phakisa Lab on ICT comprising of the Department of Basic Education experts, independent ICT experts, international bodies such as the World Bank and our own education stakeholders was launched on the 10th December 2014.

·         The Operation Phakisa Lab focusses on four main strategic objectives namely, a) Electronic content resource development and distribution, b) ICT professional development for management, teaching and learning, c) Access to ICT infrastructure and lastly  d) Connectivity.

6. Kha Ri Gude – advocacy, youth volunteers

·         We have up the ante on the implementation of adult education programme dubbed Kha Ri Gude. This includes advocacy and use of youth volunteers. 

·         In 2014 we conducted extensive information drive to heighten awareness of the campaign in communities.

·         We have developed a strategy to target unemployed youth, particularly those with Grade 12 certificates; University of South Africa (UNISA) part-time students; unemployed graduates and those who were unable to complete their university studies, to serve as KRG facilitators and coordinators.

·         The plan is to reduce the number of teachers and public servants who currently serve as facilitators. We are implementing this plan with caution to ensure that the system does not collapse.

·         Plans are afoot to approach the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) to offer bursaries to deserving youth, who would have received training to serve as KRG facilitators, for them to further their studies.

 

7. Library Services - focus on reading and heightened library resourcing in schools 

·         To improve reading we have taken a giant step in this regard. Through our partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) we have secured R78 million to provide library and information services to 150 secondary schools and 1024 primary schools especially in Limpopo and Eastern Cape in 2015 alone. 

·         There is a comprehensive plan in place to ensure that every school in the country by 2019 has some type of library and information services.

·         We announced two weeks ago a fast track programme to deliver 1 000 fully functional school libraries by 2019. Schools that have existing libraries that are not functioning have been selected for the campaign. The benefiting schools where the libraries will be established have been allocated to the provinces on pro rata basis according to the number of schools in the province. The criteria for the selection of the schools were as follows:

 

1.     There must be an existing structure.

2.     The structure must have minimal resources.

3.     The structure must be located within a functioning school environment.

4.     The school must be serving historically disadvantaged learners.

 

·         The Department will develop a framework for collaboration with key departments like Department of Arts and Culture, stakeholders and interested social partners. Many organisations are at present involved in promoting reading and libraries in South African schools. The Department plans to coordinate these efforts and ensure synergy. The National Lottery is also likely to provide funds for school libraries. The programmes of SABC Education should also be aligned with the programmes of the DBE.

8. Rural Schools (Multi-grade, Farm & non-viable)

    • In the interest of maximum utilization of limited resources we have embarked on the process of merges, closures, rationalization, and twining of non-viable schools.
    • The problem is more acute in rural schools especially schools we refer to as farm schools. However our focus is system-wide – also looking at Multi-Grade, and Small schools even in urban environment.
    • We have created the Regulations Relating to Minimum Uniform Norms and Standards for Public School Infrastructure. These regulations have created a clear legal position on what constitutes a small or large school.

9. Curriculum (MST, History, IIAL, Reading, Inclusive Education)

a) MST

 

·         There is also a special focus on Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST). We have already established the MST Directorate to drive the sector improvement mandate at the Basic Education.

·         Consequently, we have also de-established the Dinaledi and Technical Schools Conditional Grants into the new combined and system-wide grant to be known as MST conditional grant. 

·         A special Big Fast Results Lab on MST is underway to develop a long-term strategy in improving the teacher content knowledge on these subjects and greater learner participation and success rate.

 

b) History

    • Research has also shown that History is an important subject to promote social cohesion and valuing diversity by demonstrating the contributions of different race, ethnic, religious etc. groups to the liberation struggle and to the long term development of the country.
    • Evidence form the Sri Lankan Education Ministry’s Social Cohesion Programme indicated that history as a compulsory examinable subject contributed to the promotion of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious Sri Lankan identity.
    • The Education Ministry in post conflict Northern Ireland ensured that learners had experience of Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU), which is a compulsory part of the school curriculum and Cultural Heritage programmes.
    • These programmes are designed to ensure that learners learn about each other's traditions, history, and culture.
    • The EMU programme addresses the need for children to feel confident in their own identities, while the Cultural Heritage programme helps them learn about the religious and political beliefs of the other communities in Northern Ireland.

·         As a sector, we are conducting conduct research to determine whether it would be advisable for South Africa to make History a compulsory subject.

 

 

c) Incremental Introduction of African Languages

(IIAL)

 

·         On the Incremental Introduction of African Languages great strides are being made. Our pilot project is this regard has reached Grade 2 in 248 schools and we are targeting 48 Free State school in Grade this year. 

·         This programme will be rolled out throughout the country as resources both monetary and human become available.

 

c) Inclusive Education

 

·         In the area of Inclusive Education, we have established the District Based Support Teams (DBST) to promote inclusive education through training; curriculum delivery; distribution of resources; addressing barriers to learning; leadership and general management.

·         The DBSTs are made up of a group of departmental professionals consisting of transversal representation from a range of Units and not only Inclusive Education.

·         Provincial Education Departments have achieved varied success in establishing functional DBSTs.

·         We will continue to monitor this through our District support mechanism I spoke about earlier.

 

 

 

 

d) Reading

 

·         As stated in the National Development Plan (NDP), South Africa needs a high quality education system with globally competitive literacy and numeracy standards.

·         An intensive effort is therefore needed to promote reading in our schools and develop reading skills.

·         Research has shown that access to a wide range of interesting and relevant reading resources, both stories and information, has the largest impact on reading levels for home language and additional languages.

·         In a study commissioned by Reading is Fundamental, the meta-analysis of 44 rigorous studies on the impact of access to reading materials found that access improves children’s reading performance, the amount they read and their attitudes to reading and learning. The development of different models of school libraries is essential to provide access to such reading resources.

·         While there are a number of provinces that have made progress with the provisioning of school libraries, a great deal remains to be done.

·         For this reason we have initiated a campaign based on the theme that says:  “A reading nation is a leading nation”.

 

10. Social Mobilisation, Partnerships, Learner Well-Being and Safety

·         We have developed a package of interventions under the Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP). 

·         The Integrated School Health Programme is a joint initiative of the Departments of Basic Education, Health and Social Development.

·         The aim of the Programme is to improve children’s health, reduce health barriers to learning and assist learners to stay in school and perform to the best of their abilities.

·         The Programme further intends to promote attitudes and behaviours that will positively impact the current and future health status of learners. Overall the programme is designed to improve both the education performance and the health and well-being of our children.

·          It seeks to address a range of health and social challenges that are faced by young people especially related to sexual and reproductive health. This holistic response appraises, protects, and improves the health of learners, with the goal of reducing absenteeism and increasing academic achievement and ultimately the quality of basic education.

 

In conclusion, I must say our mission to provide quality education in our lifetime is indeed becoming a reality – one school at a time. In this regard, we shall spare neither strength nor courage to ensure that our children receive the best education in the State-of-the-Art facilities.

 

To continue on this trajectory we need to galvanise strong partnerships with all sectors of society. Precisely because we strongly contend that education is a societal issue. This means parents must play an active role in the life of this school in particular and education of their children in general. This may include ensuring that educators are in class on time teaching for at least seven hours a day. Parents must ensure that children do their homework and arrive at school on time, pay attention during the learning process, while respecting the school property and teachers.

 

Collectively, the community must ensure safety and security of this new school. You must also ensure that quality learning takes place. It is your responsibility to jealously guard these facilities as they now belong to you all. Congratulations to the community of Elsies River on the official handover of your school.

 

I thank you.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 1/11/2016
Number of Views: 750

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