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Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education Honourable Mr. Enver Surty at the Launch of the Life Science and Physical Science Laboratories held at Boithaopo High School, 30 March 2015

 

Programme Director: Dr Guma,

MEC for Education: Ms. Mmaphefo Matsemela

Principal: Mr. MN Phiri

IDC North West Regional Manager: Mr. David McGluwa

IDC Executive for Human Capital and CSI: Ms. Josephine Gaveni

Deputy Chairperson Adopt-a-School Foundation: Dr James Motlatsi.

Adopt-a-School Foundation Board Member: Mr. Sydney Seolonyane,

Teachers

Parents and Learners

Members of the Media

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen 

 

Programme Director; It is indeed my singular honour and privilege to be here today for the official launch of the Science Laboratories at Boithaopo High School. 

One of the most heartening things about our new South Africa is our people’s commitment to work towards quality education. By people, I mean ordinary men and women, big corporates, small businesses, non-profit sector, state-owned entities and international bodies amongst others. All these partners are playing a crucial role in supporting this government in fulfilling the Freedom Charter’s clarion call that; “The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be opened!” By their concomitant action they are enabling us to provide quality state funded education in our lifetime.

Today’s event is made possible by a strong partnership of the Shanduka-Adopt-a-School Foundation, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the freely elected people’s government represented by the North West Provincial Government (Department of Education).  This partnership gives meaning to our contention that education is indeed a societal issue.

Today’s launch is a culmination of many hours of hard work which began in 2012, when the IDC partnered with the Adopt-a-School Foundation.  The Foundation conducted a detailed due diligence and needs assessment at the school. Subsequently, the IDC formally adopted the school as part of their revised revolutionary Corporate Social Investment programme in late 2012. The singular aim of this partnership is to improve the quality of teaching and ultimately increase the number of learners taking Science and pure Maths thus resulting in an improvement in the quality of matric results. 

It is gratifying to know that since the school’s adoption, there have been immense benefits for Boithaopo High including but not limited to strategic planning leadership and governance programme for teachers, and capacity building for the Learner Representative Council.

All this work culminates to today’s launch of the R4.5 million investments in the Life Science and Physical Science Laboratories, the provision of the Science Equipment, Educator Development and Learner Supplementary Programmes for Grade 10 and 11 learners.  I’ve also learned that the water reticulation system in this school has also been upgraded. 

Ladies and Gentlemen we owe a debt of gratitude to the visionaries behind this marvelous initiative. We thank the IDC, Adopt-a-School Foundation, the Kraaipan community, teachers, parents and learners for working tirelessly together to ensure that quality education takes place in this school and many others where the IDC and Adopt-a-School Foundation are involved.

We know that a similar partnership is in place in twenty-three schools across the country. We place a premium value on the partnerships of this nature.  

What makes us even more appreciative of this partnership is the fact that the IDC and Adopt-a-School Foundation are here for the long haul. We are aware that the future plans for Boithaopo Secondary School include further governance and management training for the School Management Team, further upgrading to the water reticulation systems and career guidance programmes for learners.  We also appreciate that all teachers were trained on how to manage the Science laboratories and how to use the equipment in order to perform all necessary experiments.

The most revolutionary element of this partnership and intervention is the Teacher Development Programmes (in Mathematics and Science). Equally pleasing is that such programmes do not interfere with the normal day-to-day teaching and learning as they normally take place outside of teaching hours (mostly over weekends).

There is no doubt that considerable progress has been made since this school was accorded the Dinaledi Status in 2011.  The National Senior Certificate Results show a steady improvement since then -

2012:  79.7%; 2013:  82.8%; and drop in 2014 to:  65.7%.

 

While we acknowledge the gains of the past few years, we must admit that much more still needs to be done with regards to improving learner participation and success rate in the Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) space.  

Ministerial Task Team (MTT)

Programme Director; allow me to reflect on the work that the Basic Education Department (DBE) is doing in the MST space. The Minister of Basic Education in her wisdom initiated the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) in 2013 to advice the sector on MST Strategy.  

Part of the recommendations to the Ministerial Task Team was that the DBE must establish a MST Directorate to drive the sector wide improvement in this space.

The Ministerial Task Team further directed that the MST Directorate shall:

§  Coordinate and assist provinces in the implementation of the MST Strategy at provincial level;

§  Implement mechanisms for schools and district to elevate concerns and issues to the DBE to allow a communication structure that accommodates all voices; and

§  Be a dedicated office responsible for MST subjects and related issues in the basic education sector.

Ladies and Gentlemen I am pleased to announce that the MST Directorate which is to drive the Sector Improvement Plan is now fully functional.

I am also happy to report that a Trilateral Steering Committee on MST in Education nominated a team to write the strategy on MST in Education is up to speed. To-date, the Writing Team has developed a draft document on the MST Strategy in Education for Schools with inputs from partners involved, the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Science and Technology (DST).

You must also know that we have moved the Computer Application Technology (CAT) and Information Technology (IT) subjects to the MST Directorate since September 2014. CAT and IT were analysed and subject profiles developed. The subject profiles reflect the participation and success rates nationally and provincially by race and gender. The analysis allowed the setting of realistic targets considering the current participation rates and the performance of the learners in CAT and IT.

Furthermore, the subject profiles suggest radical steps to increase the participation rates in CAT and IT, organised according to the four MST Pillars.

§  Learner participation and success in MST subjects;

§  Teacher demand, supply, development, utilization and support

§  Provision of resources; and

§  Partnerships.

 

MST Sector Plan

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has since approved the Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Sector Plan pronouncing national and provincial targets to increase the number of learners doing Mathematics. This drive is aimed at meeting the National Development Plan (NDP) targets to increase the number of learners eligible for bachelor's pass with Mathematics and Science to 450 000 by 2030.

We have subsequently issued out a directive that schools that were not offering Mathematics should, with effect from this year (2015), incrementally offer the subject in Grade 10 as an option between Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy.

Reconfiguration of the Dinaledi and Technical Schools Conditional Grants:

As part of the review of the implementation of the MST strategy, the Department has completed the review process of the Dinaledi and Technical Secondary Schools conditional grants. This review was as recommended by a Ministerial Task Team. The review has resulted in the introduction of a new MST conditional grant, with an allocated funding of R347 million in 2015/16, R362 million in 2016/17 and R385 million in 2017/18 respectively.

The purpose of the new grant is to strengthen the implementation of the NDP and the Action Plan 2019 by increasing the number of learners taking Mathematics, Sciences and Technology subjects, improving the success rates in the subjects and improving teachers’ capabilities. The grant will achieve its purpose through the provision of support and resources to schools, teachers and learners for the improvement of Mathematics, Sciences and Technology teaching and learning at selected public schools. 

The grant will also provide ICT resources to schools, ensure teacher training especially at senior phase is accelerated and targeted learner support is prioritised to improve success and participation in MST subjects.

Big Fast Results Lab on MST

We have also commissioned a special Big Fast Results Lab (Operation Phakisa) on MST to develop a long-term strategy in improving the teacher content knowledge on these subjects. Secondly, the MST Lab is expected to develop mechanisms to encourage greater learner participation. Finally, it will finalise a sector plan needed for systematic and increased success rate.

MST Provincial Coordination

Besides systemic challenges involving resource provisioning, teacher capacity, monitoring and support, key amongst the findings of the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) was that provinces had no systematic plans for external support from or partnerships with the private sector or Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs). This often resulted in an avalanche of NGOs in schools whose involvement is not coordinated. Very often, these NGOs would identify schools without proper involvement and knowledge of the Department; they would speak directly to benefiting schools’ principals.

In this regard in August 2014 the Council of Education Ministers’ (CEM) made a directive that there should be better coordination of partnerships to ensure that optimal benefits were derived from such; and that partners should be directed to intervene in the priority areas.

The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) has thus been identified to play a central role in coordinating the partnerships.

On the same breath, organisations such as TeachSA will have a strategic role to play with regards to developing a comprehensive plan for teacher supply, utilization and development in an effort to enhance learner output with regards to participation and performance in MST.

The Role of Teacher Centres’ in MST Space 

The Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development (ISPFTED) calls for the establishment and strengthening of Provincial Teacher Development Institutes (PTDIs) and District Teacher Development Centres (DTDCs). PTDIs are physical sites that will serve as the base from which provinces coordinate and deliver all national and provincial priority Continuous Professional Development (CPD) courses.

In July 2014, the Department conducted an audit to determine the functionality of all Teacher Centres in provinces. We now have a full picture of the strengths and weaknesses of various Teacher Centres. A plan is in place to plug in the gaps that have been identified.

The following programmes are currently offered in Teacher Centres:

§  English First Additional Language Certificate in Primary English Language Teaching (EFAL CiPELT) Training;

§  CAPS content training;

§  MST teacher training;

§  Principals and SMTs training;

§  ICT Leadership and Integration into teaching and learning;

§  Library services provided; and

§  A+ ICT programme for out-of-school youth.

Draft Norms and Standards for Teacher Centres

The draft norms and standards for Teacher Centres are intended to address a number of challenges to strengthen the support of these centres through a uniform approach. These Norms and Standards are currently being strengthened by all Provinces.

Diagnostic Self-Assessments for Teachers

The Department of Basic Education has begun to implement the Diagnostic Self-Assessment for teachers in Aptis (EFAL). To date 612 teachers have been tested.

This roll-out will be followed by Mathematics from July 2015. Targets of 500 teachers tested per Teacher Centre in 2015 have been set.

Provision of ICT Resources to Teacher Centres

As part of a strategy to build functional Teacher Centres, the DBE has  partnered with the private sector and other institutions such as Vodacom, Cisco, Mindset Network and UNISA to provide ICT resources to all Teacher Centres; and

Vodacom has provided Information and Communications Technology to 60 Teacher Centres by February 2015. It is envisaged that a further 20 Centres will be fully ICT enabled and compliant by August 2017 and the rest by 2017. In addition, Vodacom established a Digital Classroom Portal to service all Teachers and Teacher Centre Managers; they are conducting 54 Webinars for Maths and Science Grade 10 to 12 Teachers;

CISCO has committed to installing their CEEDBox Solution to all Teacher Centres by March 2017. This technology allows for bi-directional distance learning. It also includes access to CISCO IT Academy Training and the International Computer Drivers Licence course.

Mindset Network has committed to installing their satellite solution in 82 Teacher Centres.

UNISA has committed to install; 30 Laptops; Desks; Furniture; Video Conference Facilities, Unlimited Wi-Fi; Microwave Connectivity; and Call Centres in 35 Teacher Centres.

This is further proof that education has indeed become a societal issue. The worst kept secret is that the Department of Basic Education cannot work in vacuum. We work with and depend on the goodwill of thousands of our people.

Conclusion

Let me now talk directly to the learners; these new facilities are yours. They represent your ticket to a better future. There are a few non-negotiables that I want to outline; firstly embrace the culture of reading and respect and honour books. Secondly, do not mess with the Laboratory equipment. Never, never steal books from your Library or play with scientific instruments.

In short, I am calling for a shift in the mindset of our learners. So let’s celebrate the change that you see in front of you today in the form of these new state-of-the-art Laboratories.  Our celebration must be within the context of what this promises for the future of our children and the prosperity of our country in general.

In conclusion, I can assure our partners today and the rest of the community that we are doing everything in our power to improve teacher content, learner participation and success rate in the area of MST. I am pleased that this school alone offers MST related subjects to a whopping 815 learners. Furthermore some 2000 learners and 20 educators from five surrounding feeder primary schools will benefit from the new facilities. The same helping hand will be extended to some 300 learners and five educators from the neighbouring secondary school. We are truly Taking South Africa Forward.

I thank you.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 1/11/2016
Number of Views: 1147

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