Thank you for coming to attend this important CEM meeting. It is indeed a pleasure to have you all.
This meeting occurs immediately after we hosted the 15th National Teachers Awards (NTA). The NTA was a resounding success. The grand idea was and it continues to be about entrenching the professionalization of teaching, recognise and reward excellence in teaching. It is part of a package of interventions to acknowledge and encourage excellence within the system in an effort to deliver quality basic education in our lifetime. Obviously, we had a few technical glitches that occurred on the night. The programme itself was too long. We have discussed our concerns with the Senior Management to ensure that in the years to come the programme is tightened. I wish to thank all teachers who excelled and all those who took part. Sometimes in life it’s not always about winning. I also extend my gratitude to the MEC’s who made it to the glittering event. Our thanks also extend to the organisers and the Communications team for the work well done. Some of you might have watched the NTA on SABC 2 last night.
March towards the 100th ASIDI School Milestone
Council Members, I am pleased to announce that nationally, the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) has 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. Our thinking is that when we reach the 100th ASIDI School mark, there should bells and whistles. Planning in this regard has already begun. We might even get the President of the country to do the honours of handing over the 100th School to the deserving community. This is indeed a significant milestone. As we always say, we do indeed have a Good Story to Tell.
Monitoring & Oversight
In the light of the priorities for this term of office and our resolve to heighten both performance and accountability, we have resolved to establish a Monitoring and Oversight Unit within the Office of the Minister. I will share with the Council Members more information on this in our next meeting.
However the normal districts’ monitoring will continue as usual. In line with caring out the directives of the CEM Lekgotla of the 1st and 2nd August 2014, CEM will continue to receive and monitor reports on all areas identified for strategic intervention to improve learner performance throughout the sector .
One such report is about strengthening the Foundation, Intermediate phase, senior and FET phases through the implementation of the NSLA. Progress has been made in implementing radical and unconventional interventions to deal with chronic and perennial underperformance in mathematics in the Senior Phase.
Just to remind Council Members, School Governing Bodies’ (SGBs) elections are continuing throughout the country until the 28 March. You are urged to closely monitor progress in this regard and immediately report or respond to any challenges timeously. It is an open secret that the Department of Basic Education alone cannot achieve all its ambitious targets without the spirit of volunteerism demonstrated by parents and communities in supporting education programmes. We depend on parents to support teachers in their role to educate and mould our young minds into responsible adults. Equally, we also depend on parents’ support to play that vital role of oversight to ensure that there is quality education taking place in all schools across the length and breadth of our country.
Ablution Facilities for Schools: National Emergency
At the outset I want talk about the matter of sanitation in our schools. It has become both a matter of urgency and a source of embarrassment. In tackling this challenges our officials have to date visited and profiled 24 270 public schools in all 81 education districts.
During this process, it became clear that although significant strides have been made towards redressing the imbalances of the past, there are still significant challenges relating to the development and maintenance of school infrastructure, especially ablution facilities. IQMS Coordinators were asked to visit as many of the schools that had been found to have sanitation problems and identify the following.
1. Schools with no toilets;
2. Schools with unusable toilets that can still be fixed – for quick wins; and
3. Schools with very dangerous toilet facilities that could be classified as having no toilet facilities at all.
The reports from the verification process reflect challenges that require immediate attention. In four provinces, the situation was found to be dire. These provinces are Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga. I will list the acute cases per province – starting with:
EASTERN CAPE PROVINCE
There are 49 schools that need urgent attention.
a) Eighteen schools with no toilets.
b) Eighteen schools with unusable but fixable toilets.
c) Thirteen schools with unusable and unfixable toilets.
There are 24 schools that need urgent attention.
a) Two schools without any toilets.
b) Ten schools with unusable but fixable toilets.
c) Twelve schools with unusable and unfixable toilets.
There are 29 schools that need urgent attention.
a) Eight schools with no toilets
b) Eight schools with unusable but fixable toilets.
c) Thirteen schools with unusable and unfixable toilets.
There are 14 schools that need urgent attention.
a) Eight schools with unusable but fixable toilets.
b) Six schools with unusable and unfixable toilets.
Deputy Minister and colleagues we cannot allow this current situation to persist any longer. How do we explain that our children/teachers in 2015 and 21 years into a democracy – their dignity is trampled upon by this very government? This situation is so dire and so urgent that I appeal to all MEC’s to treat it as a national apex priority. We must have all these ablution facilities build from scratch or fixed by no later than June this year. In our own homes when the toilet is malfunctioning, we immediately call a plumber. Let us treat our children and teachers the same way we treat our households.
The Chinese Connection
I am happy to announce that 2015 is the Year of China in South Africa, and as part of our valued partnership with the Ministry of China, we have agreed that South African school principals will be awarded opportunities to receive training in China. This opportunity will be given to 50 principals from high performing schools, every year, for the next five years. I therefore invite all MEC’s to encourage the right principals to seize these opportunities. We will keep you updated on all developments in this regard.
Over and above this opportunity we have further agreed on a package of interventions to help us to cement quality education in our country in tandem with our Chinese counterpart. In this regard, we have agreed as follows:
· Support incorporating Chinese language teaching into South African primary and middle schools as the flagship project of the year of China in South Africa.
- Send a Chinese language teaching Advisor to work on the above, at the expense of China, except for office space and work equipment. The Advisor can be dispatched as soon as the DBE is ready to receive him/her.
- Organise experts to compile Chinese language textbooks that are suited to South African conditions. The compiling work can be launched in 2015, as part of the DBE’s recognition of the year of China in South Africa.
- Partner with the DBE in compiling humanities text books.
- Send more Chinese language teachers and volunteers to South Africa, in alignment with the need of South Africa. China can send 100 teachers and volunteers every year for the next five years. DBE is meant to provide for visa application and accommodation.
- China will train 200 local Chinese language teachers each year for the next five years through local Confucius Institutes and by providing Confucius Institutes Scholarships in China.
- Offer two scholarships for full teaching qualifications in China.
- Invite 50 presidents from universities, middle schools and primary schools; and 100 students from universities and middle schools every year, to visit China in the next five years. DBE must work together with DHET on this.
- Support South African educational institutions to apply for opening of Confucius Institutes/classrooms. China plans to build three new Confucius Institutes and 20 Confucius classrooms in primary and middle schools in South Africa in the next five years.
- Donate equipment to 80 to 100 square meters Planetarium. The equipment will be donated by CEIC. China will partner with SA on a cost sharing basis. DBE should conduct site selection and dedicate a Project Leader to work with the Embassy on the project.
- Arrange for twinning of the best schools in Beijing and Shanghai with South African schools
We are indeed Moving South Africa Forward. We will spare neither strength nor courage, in making sure that this bilateral agreement is implemented.
Brief Report on the Implementation of the Diagnostic Self-Assessments in Relation to the Viability of Teacher Centres’
The Department of Basic Education has begun to implement the Diagnostic Self-Assessment for teachers in Aptis- English First Additional Language. To date 612 teachers have been undergone necessary testing in all nine provinces.
From July 2015, this roll-out will be followed with a Diagnostic Self-Assessment of teachers offering Mathematics.
Targets of 500 teachers tested per Teacher Centre in 2015 have been set.
The Department of Basic Education will also be finalising the development of Accounting and Physical Science Diagnostic Self-Assessment by end of 2015.
By the end of the 2015/16 financial year we shall have completed four (4) subjects.
These assessments will assist the Department to determine the content gaps and other needs of teachers and determine focussed Teacher Development programmes.
This initiative has a direct impact on the functionality of Teachers Centres. The success of the Diagnostic Self-Assessment is directly dependent on the viability of Teacher Centres’ as hubs for professional development. The Department expects provinces to support these hubs. Mpumalanga has planned to recapitalize all Teachers Centres’ in 2015/16. These plan augers well in meeting our targets of 500 teachers per Teachers Centre.
CEM should note that the following conditions apply to a functional Teacher Centre:
- Knowledgeable and productive Centre Manager;
- Availability of an e-learning specialist;
- Availability of ICTs and Connectivity in the Centre;
- Number of Teacher Development Programmes provided;
- Availability of training spaces, furniture and headset with microphones for Aptis;
- Frequency of teacher training workshops conducted; and
- Community programmes provided such as youth programmes.
It is therefore recommended that CEM notes these conditions for proper alignment and provision of support to these Teacher Centres with urgency. Furthermore, CEM should note that these Diagnostic Self-Assessments will be nationally launched in May 2015.
Promoting Reading and School Libraries
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 I am initiating a campaign on the theme of: “A reading nation is a leading nation”. The campaign will consist of two parts: the establishment of 1 000 fully functional school libraries throughout the country; and reading promotion activities targeting all communities.
Establishment of 1 000 fully functional school libraries
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 pro rata 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 Library and Information Services of the Provincial Education Departments have been cooperating in the planning of the campaign and have guided the selection of the schools in each province that will be targeted. The pillars of the programme are:
- Provision of libraries;
- Provision of dedicated human resource capacity;
- Provision of books and materials;
- Utilisation of library to promote reading, during and after school-hours.
The Department will place library assistants in the targeted schools in a learnership programme funded by PSETA, and provide 9 Reading and Library Information Service programme co-ordinators. The Department will develop a guideline on the selection of library resources for children and youth for the use of both school and public libraries.
A guideline on the effective functioning of the library at the identified schools will be developed.
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.
The reading campaign will start in April 2015 and build up to a climax on International Literacy Day 8 September 2015. Members of the community will be involved in the reading campaign. Some of the activities identified for the campaign include School alumni will be asked to donate books to the schools they attended on that day, but they will also be encouraged to become involved in other ways. Business partners in the community will also be approached to contribute, for instance Supermarkets can serve as collection points for resources.
Provincial Education Departments must manage and support the implementation of the programme at the identified schools in the province; evaluate and assess current reading and library resources in the identified schools; and recycle the obsolete and outdated materials, both printed and electronic.
Each Provincial Department of Education should provide print and digital reading materials in line with the guidelines provided. It should facilitate a partnership between the public libraries with the identified schools.
Provincial Departments of Education will roll out the campaign by developing targeted reading programmes and activities in line with the plans developed by the DBE and in cooperation with the partners in their provinces. The Drop All and Read Programme will be strengthened and implemented in those schools where it is not yet taking place. The Grade 4 storybook provided by Times Media and the DBE has to be used in reading activities.
In order to strengthen capacity in the provinces and districts and ensure that the necessary officials are in place to drive the programme and ensure its success, all existing funded vacant Library posts in Provincial Departments of Education must be filled.
I appreciate all the efforts that have already been put in by the provinces, and trust that these campaigns will contribute to our mutual success in helping our learners improve their literacy skills and educational outcomes.
Colleagues these are just my opening remarks for now, I will add other matters in the course of our discussions.
I also wish to apologise in advance as I have agreed to address the 108th Annual Conference of the Professional Educators Union (PEU) later this morning. However, I would be back as soon as I have delivered my address.