Senior Management of the RMB Morgan Stanley
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am grateful to be invited to address you this afternoon on the important subject of the state of our basic education and how it can be used as a key to unlock South Africa’s potential.
Programme Director; our basic education is in great shape. Within the sector, there is a sense of urgency, purpose and unity. We understand the immense potential of what quality education can do for the radical socio-economic transformation of our economy. We have moved beyond rhetoric, grand plans and policy reviews to nothing but action. Our anchor for the radical transformation in the sector in the next five years will be the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a tool to enable learning, administration and teacher development.
ICT in Education
Programme Director; allow me to share with you a snapshot of what we have done with regard to ICT.
As at the end of August 2014:
· Forty active ICT enabled Teacher Resource Centres are up and running with 133 planned for 2015.
· First Additional Language Interactive workbooks (Book 1 & 2) have been developed to support incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) in Xhosa, Afrikaans, Sesotho, Zulu, Setswana and Sepedi.
· We have provided all provinces with the 2014 Educational Digital content which includes Grade 4 – 6 Natural Science and Technology (CAPS), Grade 7 – 9 Mathematics and Technology (CAPS), Grade 7 – 9 Natural Science (CAPS) and Grade 10 – 12 Mathematics, Physical Science (CAPS).
· We facilitated the connectivity of 15 schools, including 10 schools from Mpumalanga-Balfour and five schools from Limpopo (TV Whitespace project) and a list of about 400 special schools has been submitted to Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to be considered for connectivity under the license obligation project.
· Furthermore, a list of about 5000 schools has been submitted to the Department of Communication (DOC) to be part of the initial business case to the National Treasury for connectivity of both National Health Insurance clinics and schools in the 10 and 20 km radius of the clinics.
· Thutong Portal: a new learning space has been created and is accessible from the DBE website, for Home Based Education.
· As agreed in the national strategic framework for professional development we have already launched a virtual school, a first for South Africa. The UKUFUNDA Virtual School was launched in September this year. The school offers a wide range of free and open Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) aligned learning resources that can be accessed on more than 8000 mobile devices - from low-end mobile phones to high-end smart phones and tablets. It offers access to tutors, counsellors, mentors, coaches, and librarians. It is more like having a virtual school in your pocket.
· We will launch DBE Learning Television Channel in 2015.
· The entire Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements and workbooks have been digitised and workbooks placed also in digital form on the education.gov.za website.
Programme Director; the master plan is that by 2019 all our schools should and must be ICT enabled and compliant.
Mathematics, Science and Technology
Another area of focus in the next five years is improved results in Maths, Science and Technology. We have come to a realisation that we have to improve participation, performance and the pipeline in Mathematics, Science and Technology as part of our radical transformation mantra. Towards the realisation of this noble objective, the following has been done by this new administration:
· Establishment and Resourcing of the Maths Science and Technology (MST) Directorate and provincial MST Institutes through a new conditional grant.
· Interventions for improving Grade 9 Mathematics are being implemented at all provinces, monitored by the Department of Basic Education specialists – using information from ANA results of the last two years.
· Collaboration efforts with our partners such as Sasol Inzalo to strengthen performance in the GET Mathematics, Science and Technology with a focus on teacher training.
· Procurement of Maths Kits and Science Kits for Senior Phase from China is in process.
· Norms and Standards for equipment and laboratories are being compiled.
Our immediate plans include the following:
· Increase the number of learners taking Mathematics in all Dinaledi schools.
· Review the Physical Science curriculum to make provision for Physical Sciences in its current form as well as Chemistry and Physics as separate subjects.
· Strengthen the offering of the sciences in the Foundation Phase curriculum
· Issue a circular addressing subject combinations
· Strengthen the delivery of technology subject in the Senior Phase to increase participation in Further Education and Training (FET) technical subjects.
· Increase the number of learners taking technology subjects including CAT and IT in FET
· Set and monitor the achievement of annual targets per province.
· Implement programmes to increase participation and success rate of girl learners.
· Develop and implement a framework for utilization of itinerant teachers.
· Set, distribute and monitor the achievement of national and individual provincial targets.
· Expose learners to Mathematics, Science and Technology/Technical subjects in GET & FET through competitions and International Mathematics Olympiads.
South Africa is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of Literacy and Early Childhood Development. This includes achieving universal primary education with a focus on both access and completion of primary education. Further, there is near universal participation in one year of pre-school, reported at 84.6% in the 2012 General Household Survey. The publically funded Grade R is a significant contributor to the high early childhood participation rate.
Extensive programmes were implemented to improve access to learning and teaching support materials with over 150 million texts and workbooks now in the hands of learners.
Interventions to mitigate inequities in access to education include the national school nutrition programme which now caters for around 9.2 million school-going children. In addition, scholar transport and no fee schooling is provided to 78% of learners (over 8 million learners) in about 81% of public schools (over 20 000 schools) which do not charge fees.
Mass Literacy Campaign
The Kha Ri Gude (KRG) Mass Literacy Campaign caters for adult literacy learners and has been very successful and the country is well on the way to achieving global literacy targets. 800 ECD volunteers have been training on 0-4 year stimulation. Certificates issued to blind and deaf volunteers that received the training, during the disability sector training session held from 4-6 July 2014. Registration of the 619 000 learners are currently in progress. Classes for the disabled learners commenced on 1 August 2014. Classes for the able-bodied group began on 1 September 2014.
The development, provision and maintenance of infrastructure is high on our priorities in the sector as the ANC Manifesto and National Development Plan (NDP) identify historical backlogs and conditions at our schools as a challenge to learner well-being.
During the first 100 days of this administration:
· 12 school new schools were handed over to the beneficiary communities to replace inappropriate structures. We provided 33 schools with sanitation and 22 schools with electrification; these are schools that had no form of sanitation or electrification.
· 41 165 desks have already been delivered in Limpopo, Eastern Cape and North West to benefit 82 330 learners, In addition 200 000 desks have been ordered from Environmental Affairs. Delivery for 67 541 desks was requested for 544 schools to benefit 135 082 learners in the Eastern Cape.
· Work on regulating Norms and Standards for Maintenance started in the period under review and a draft report has been completed
Teacher Development & Support
Teaching is one of the most important determinants of learner performance. We are committed to better teacher deployment, utilization and development.
The Funza Lushaka graduates allocations to provinces and districts for 2015 have been sent to provinces for proactive placements.
To succeed in the area of teacher development, we had to determine the quality and quantity of existing skills in our sector hence we are rolling out the process of Teacher Profiling. This is important in-order to ensure that: “We have the Correct Teacher, Teaching the Correct Subject in the Correct Grade”. 75% of teachers have been profiled in terms of their professional information, subjects taught and subjects qualified to teach.
Teacher Resource Centres
I am happy to report that we now have 131 fully functioning Teacher Training Centres (including 40 supported by our generous partner Vodacom). We firmly hold a view that the classroom is a centre piece of learning and teaching. And, at the core of this learning and teaching is a competent and confident Teacher. Teachers are the backbone of any functional education system. It is within this context that we decided that the best way to deliver quality education was to continuously upgrade the content knowledge of our teachers. In August we held a successful Teacher Centre Management Training which empowered Teacher Centre Managers’ with requisite skills to manage centres successfully.
In conclusion, I would love to extend our thanks to all our partners in the basic education sector. These partners make our work not only bearable but easy and enjoyable. We continue to make a call to others in the private and non-governmental sectors to come and work with us. Education is and will always be a societal issue. We need all hands on deck in-order to succeed.
I thank you.