MEC for Education, Ms Debbie Schäfer
Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Ms Alderman Patricia de Lille
Principal of the school,
SGB Chairperson and Members present
Kasselsvlei Primary School Teachers and Parents
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my singular honour and a privilege to be in the province of the Western Cape again to officially open the 9th state-of-the-art school. This school is part of the ANC led government ground-breaking infrastructure built programme dubbed Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI).
Today, I am honoured to be among the community Bonteheuwel on their special occasion. We were in this province last week to officially handover the Kasselsvlei Primary School to the Bellville Community. The jubilation that one witnessed in Bellville among both the young and old convinced us that we are indeed on the right trajectory to restore pride to our people through building the state-of-the-art schools.
The co-founder of the world’s largest PC software company, Microsoft, Bill Gates correctly summed up the importance of education, he said: “As we enter the twenty-first century, it is clear that education is, indeed, the best investment that we can make, for an information economy depends upon a knowledgeable, skilled, educated workforce. The better educated our students are, the better we will perform economically.”
Today it is the turn of the community Bonteheuwel to experience first-hand the tangible fruits of living in a democracy. We are indeed restoring the promise of freedom through this massive investment in the future of this community. As I mentioned earlier the Rosewood Primary School is part of the ASIDI programme whose singular mission is to eradicate schools built from inappropriate materials such as of asbestos, wood, mud, etc. However, because ASIDI is more than just brick and mortar programme, all ASIDI schools are provided with dignified sanitation, drinking water, electricity, computers, laboratories and other basic amenities
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 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.
Programme Director it is important to repeat this point as I 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.
Equally pleasing is that today’s handover occurs the same year as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the late President Nelson Mandela affectionately known as Madiba’s release from 27 years of prison. Upon his release Madiba pledged to dedicate the remaining years of his life in the service of humanity. We are glad to confirm that he did exactly that without fail.
In the context of education the founding father of our democracy, the late Madiba once declared quite correctly that: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue and a pen, then you have something very special”.
Equally pleasing is that today’s handover coincides with the year when we celebrate the 60th anniversary of adoption of the Freedom Charter. On education the Freedom Charter proclaims boldly that “The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be opened! The government shall discover, develop and encourage national talent for the enhancement of our cultural life; the aim of education shall be to teach the youth to love their people and their culture, to honour human brotherhood, liberty and peace; Education shall be free, compulsory, universal and equal for all children.”
To further demonstrate our seriousness about basic education, His Excellency President Zuma declared it an apex priority in 2009. To this end, South Africa spends about 5% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on basic education. This massive investment in the future of our children is beginning to show significant improvement in results.
Investment in Basic Education
In his 2015 State of the Nation Address, President Zuma re-emphasised the importance of education, he said: “This is the year of investing more in our future, by educating our children and the youth about the rich heritage of this country.”
In his maiden Budget Speech the Minister of Finance Honourable Nhlanhla Nene presented further proof of our serious intent to truly open all the doors of learning. The Finance Minister allocated R640 billion to basic education for the next three years.
Under Minister Motshekga’s oversight, personnel planning for schools is being reviewed to ensure that learner-teacher ratios are maintained at appropriate levels.
The number of qualified teachers entering the public service is projected to increase from about 8 200 in 2012/13 to 10 200 in 2017/18. To support teacher training, R3.1 billion will be awarded in Funza Lushaka bursaries over the next three years.
We will distribute 170 million workbooks to over 23 000 public schools over this Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. Each learner in Grades R to 9 will receive two books per subject each year in numeracy, mathematics, literacy, language and life skills.
The school infrastructure backlogs programme is allocated R7.4 billion for the replacement of over 500 unsafe or poorly constructed schools, as well as to address water, sanitation and electricity needs.
The education infrastructure grant of R29.6 billion over the medium term will enable all schools to meet the minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure by 2016.
The Basic Education budget also includes R4.1 billion over the MTEF period to build and support public libraries. School and community sport programmes and sports academies will receive R1.7 billion in conditional allocations to provinces.
Investment in Kasselsvlei Primary School
The ANC led people’s government invested a total of R38 million to rebuild Kasselsvlei Primary School. This is a massive investment into the future of this community. The children of this community now have 38 million reasons to succeed.
Education is a prerequisite for tackling poverty and promoting short and long-term economic growth. No country has achieved continuous and rapid economic growth without at least 40% of adults being able to read and write (GCE, 2010). At an individual level, a person’s earnings increase with each additional year of schooling they receive. This is especially true for additional years of higher education. Thus, people who are educated are able to earn more money and support their families, which helps economies to grow faster and poverty rates to decline.
Therefore, opening classroom doors to all children, especially girls, as the Freedom Charter dictates helps to break the inter-generational chains of poverty.
School Governing Bodies’ Elections
Programme Director; allow me a moment to reflect on one important aspect of our basic education system i.e. the involvement of parents in the day to day management of schools. As our system of school management has matured, the Department of Basic has formalised and institutionalised the manner in which parents and communities can be involved in schools to contribute towards teaching and learning in-order to improve learners’ educational outcomes. Amongst many types of involvement, the most crucial today is through building vibrant and democratic School Governing Bodies.
The 2015 SGBs elections are upon us. This is the third largest exercise of our democratic voting rights in our country after the Local Government elections. There are roughly 23 000 schools participating in these elections and we expect around 250 000 SGB members to be elected though this process.
The outcome of the national SGBs elections will net more democratically elected officials than the National Assembly, Provincial Legislatures, and Local Municipalities combined. It is a massive logistical process. We can assure you today that it’s all systems go. We are ready. We have no doubt in our minds that you as members of the community are also ready. These in fact are your schools attended by your children. Our legal obligation as a caring government is provide the necessary resources to make quality education happen in the classrooms across the length and breadth of our land. It is an obligation we take very seriously. In fact it is an honour to serve. The actual 2015 School Governing Bodies’ elections take place from today until the 28th of March.
This is an exciting period in the education calendar to see parents renewing their commitment in supporting the education of their children. I call upon all parents to participate in this democratic process by voting and/or standing as candidates.
In conclusion, I must reiterate especially to the press and adults here, that our programme goes beyond brick and mortar. The building of these schools and provision of services is as much about breaking up with the past as it is about healing the wounds of apartheid education. As I said earlier, ultimately this is about the restoration of dignity for our people and laying the ground for a better future so that our children can enjoy and benefit from the fruits of a living in a democratic society.