Honourable Members and colleagues
Ladies and gentlemen,
Honourable Speaker! Twelve years ago, on the occasion of the 90th birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu, one of the stalwarts of the African National Congress, our former President Nelson Mandela had this to say: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”.
Honourable Members this Friday July 18, it will be the first time that we recognise Mandela Day without our former President.
I believe that the former President of the African National Congress would have been proud that we have one system of education for all our citizens. He would have been pleased to discover that some 8 million children attend no-fee schools, and that some 9 million children receive a hot meal daily at school.
I am convinced that Mandela and Sisulu would have been happy at the more than 10 billion rand allocated for school infrastructure.
The ASIDI programme is restoring dignity to rural education by providing state of the art schools that are set to transform the future of thousands of learners in our country. Standard facilities include science and computer labs, nutrition centres, libraries, decent sanitation, electricity, over 25 water tanks per school and a fully resourced Grade R centre complete with jungle gym and sand pit.
It is important to note that this is a national programme and to that end, 14 schools are under construction in the Western Cape with an additional 11 planned. 30 new schools are planned for the Free State, five for Mpumalanga, three each in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, two in North West and one in Northern Cape. The master list of schools on the programme is published on the DBE website.
Honourable Members, ASIDI is about the provision of basic services to those schools that never had water, sanitation and electricity. The programme has delivered water to 203 schools, sanitation to 226 schools and electrification to 150 schools.
Honourable Speaker, on Mandela Day, this Friday, we are handing over NGINZA Primary school in Mthatha. This is part of our one-school-a-week campaign aimed at making a difference to the lives of those previously marginalised. This is what Mandela would have wanted us to do!
Honourable Speaker, our learners live in a world that is increasingly driven by information and communication technology.
It is a world that is fast changing and interconnected. It requires high levels of skills and competencies in order to meet the needs of the digital age.
The Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025 requires the e-Education strategy to play a central role in the attainment of its goals by improving accessibility, inclusivity, quality and efficiency across the education system.
The Departments of Basic Education and Communications through the 2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy project designed and developed a DBECloud solution. The solution is still under development.
The solution provides an engaging and interactive online environment with easy navigation to support teachers, learners, managers and the broader education sector. The solution provides access to services such as email, Internet, online courses and multimedia content through various sites and portals.
Honourable Speaker, are you aware that more than 14200 schools are connected, including 10065 schools connected for administrative purpose and 4 195 connected for teaching and learning purposes?
The connectivity initiatives include 1600 schools as part of the2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy Project; as well as another list of 10000 schools that have been provided to the Department of Communications that are within a 10 to 20km radius of the National Health Insurance clinics.
These are schools that are earmarked to be connected as part of Phase 1 of the implementation of the Broadband Policy.
The policy outlines that by 2016 about 50% of the schools will be provided with Internet connectivity at a speed of 10 Megabytes per second.
The Department of Basic Education provided 54 ASIDI schools with 24 Laptops for teaching and learning, 24 Cart Mobile trolleys, 3 Laptops for administration, Data Projectors, Servers and Wireless Access Points.
Furthermore, a total of 2256 schools received the tablet solution for teaching and learning. The solution includes 40 tablets and electronic content.
It was former President Mandela, honorable Speaker, who said: “You must brush up your knowledge through systematic reading of literature and newspapers”. Need I tell you, honorable Members, that he was emphasizing the value of literacy and numeracy? President Mandela would be happy to hear that each year we print, package and distribute 54 million workbooks to each learner from Grade R to 9 on time, every time.
The sector as a whole has delivered more than 200 million Language and Mathematics workbooks to 24 000 public schools twice a year since 2011 and will continue to do so in the coming years.
In the past 3 years we have delivered textbooks to the tune of R7,7 billion. Honourable Speaker, we are now delivering top up books because the CAPS curriculum has now been fully implemented across all grades. This means we are on course to ensuring that Madiba’s wish for all learners to read is realised.
The Department has seen a dramatic improvement in both the quality and the increase in the number of learners writing the National Senior Certificate over the years.
We have shining examples of schools that have consistently shown that sustained excellence is achievable. Look at the performance of Mbilwi Secondary School, and Dendron High School, both in Limpopo in terms of their NSC results. Here you have a classic example of what happens when learners, educators and parents enter into a partnership. There are many other schools like these around the country that should be emulated.
Honourable Speaker, let’s talk now about the Annual National Assessments.The ANA have become a method of providing overall system feedback to inform the Department and the sector on literacy and numeracy levels. The ANA allows teachers to reflect on their performance and to identify areas that require additional support to ensure effective learning.
As an indicator of the health of the education system, ANA has yielded not only valuable information on the status quo. ANA has also pointed to those areas calling for urgent attention to improve performance.
For instance in 2012 the results of ANA showed that while learner achievement in Language was generally at acceptable levels in terms of the proportion of learners who achieved 50% and above in the tests in many grades, achievement in Mathematics declined across the grades with progressively steeper declines from Grade 6 to Grade 9.
The rhythm of these assessments has stabilised remarkably in the last 3 years with participation increasing from around half a million learners in 2011 to about 7 million learners in 2013.
Each year the assessments have generated useful information on the state of teaching and learning in our schools. They have enabled our Department and provinces to marshal programmes addressing areas of concern in the schooling system.
Before our learners continue endearing themselves to other languages, they must be able to speak their home language, the language which, according to the late father and icon of our nation, President Mandela, speaks to the heart. Madiba would be pleased today to hear that we are bringing exactly that into the classroom.
The Incremental Introduction of African Languages policy intends to promote and develop the previously marginalised languages. We hope this will raise confidence of parents to choose their own languages as languages for learning and teaching. We believe, also, that the policy will increase access to languages by all learners, beyond English and Afrikaans.
Currently the National Curriculum Statement requires learners to offer two languages, one as a language of learning and teaching and the other as an additional language. One of the two languages should be offered at Home Language level, and the other at either Home Language or First Additional Language (FAL) level.
The policy requires all learners to offer three languages, one of which should be an African language. That, honourable Members, begins in 2015.
Honourable Speaker, in the education sector we say teaching is the profession that gives birth to other professions. In order to produce good doctors, accountants, engineers and lawyers we need qualified teachers in the system. To achieve this, the Department needs various creative recruitment strategies to attract high achieving, motivated young people to choose teaching as a career in order to address the poor supply of teachers in specific priority areas such as mathematics, physical science, and technology.
The Department introduced in 2012 a District-Based Recruitment Campaign that targets learners coming from rural and poor communities to assist them to access the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme and to attract well qualified teachers to teach in rural areas.
In the South African situation, demands for education reform continue to be informed by the need to address and redress the legacy of apartheid and segregation. As we review our policies and develop strategies for improving quality, our historical context demands that we also consider the contribution of and partnerships with the international community. We thank the following organisations for their support; UNICEF, UNESCO, EU, USAID, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Ministry of Education in China, British Council, Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance, and Ministry of Education in Cuba.
School choir competition
Honourable Speaker, this budget vote takes place in a very important week in the calendar of the Department. The 14thNational South African Schools’ Choral Eisteddfod is underway in Durban.
This is one of the events in the Department’s annual calendar that employ school enrichment programmes to bring people from across the nine provinces together to witness unique talents of the flowers of the nation – our children.
The Choral Eisteddfod should serve symbolically as a gift to our nation and as living proof that it is possible to love one another, united in our diversity.
The melody of the young voices in our choirs should teach us to combat and outsmart the pitfalls of violence, crime, abuse, xenophobia and all forms of hatred and malice. These vices we cannot allow to blight the bright future of our young ones.
This is what the Eisteddfod means for us as an education department – a means to unleash talent, entertain, educate while building and nurturing a nation just as a loving mother would an innocent infant.
Congratulations to the learners and schools that have been selected through the various elimination rounds up to the provincial championships to perform at the 2014 national championships.
Honourable Speaker, we continue to call on all South Africans to make education a societal issue.