Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee
Thank you for the opportunity provided to interact with the Portfolio Committee today on the Department of Basic Education Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and Budget.
Honourable Chairperson, before I proceed with my short remarks, allow me to express the collective grief of the Basic Education community on the tragic and untimely passing of the Minister of Public Service and Administration, and Member of the African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee. As we know Honourable Chabane and his two protectors, Sergeants Sekele and Lentsoane passed on in the early hours of Sunday morning. Honourable Chabane was a versatile and personable human being with an incisive mind, sharp wit and easy humour. Despite many contributions he made to the struggle against apartheid and in the new South Africa, Honourable Chabane would be remembered as the inaugural Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency during the 4th Administration. He introduced the ground-breaking performance measurement in government for the very first time but quickly made it as a central feature of government work. We are indeed left poorer without the incisive mind of Honourable Chabane. He indeed left a void both in Government and the ANC. We express on behalf of the people of South Africa in general and Basic Education fraternity in particular our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and comrades. May his soul and that of his protectors’ rest in eternal peace!
Honourable Chairperson we deeply value the role that the Portfolio Committee plays in its oversight of the work of our Department. The pro-active manner in which you approach your work as a committee is sincerely appreciated.
Today Honourable Chairperson, we are going to take you on our journey to the future. We are certain that the plans we will present today will be a game-changer and mark a radical transformation of the basic education sector as demanded by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma.
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)
· Honourable Chairperson, I am pleased to announce that nationally, (ASIDI) has to date delivered 97 state-of-the-art facilities in rural and economically depressed areas to give all our children a more equal shot at life. These are indeed dividends of democracy.
· We are excited at the prospect of reaching the 100th School milestone within weeks from now. This is indeed a significant milestone. As we always maintained we do indeed have a Good Story to Tell.
· Throughout the length and breadth of our beautiful country we seek to deliver 527 state-of-the-art schools through ASIDI.
· By the time we complete this mammoth task we would have provided water, sanitation and electricity to 1000 schools as part of restoring dignity to our people.
Further progress on infrastructure include
· 108 – Other schools under construction.
· 342 – Schools that have received water for the first time.
· 351 – Schools that have received decent sanitation.
· 288 – 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.
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.
- Establishment of 1 000 fully functional school libraries by 2019
· We announced last week 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:
· There must be an existing structure.
· The structure must have minimal resources.
· The structure must be located within a functioning school environment.
· 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)
· 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.
· 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
· 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.
· 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.
I will now hand over to the Acting Director General, Mr Paddy Padayachee, to lead the Department’s Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and Budget.