Dr Irvin Khoza,
Mr Mathew Cocks,
Ladies and Gentlemen
It seems that the opening of the Orlando Pirates Learning Centre was just yesterday! But alas, two years have since passed. I am delighted to return today to join you in celebrating two years of achievements of the Orlando Pirates Learning Centre.
We have taken note of the achievements of this Centre over the past two years. It has certainly made an impact in the lives of over 1,000 learners and has improved the results of more than 14 schools in the area. We wish to congratulate you on these achievements and wish to assure you of the Basic Department’s commitment to this partnership. Particularly pleasing is your contribution in making sure that the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is accessible to many surrounding schools and community members in this community. This alone will make a significant contribution to improving the learning experience of so many previously disadvantaged learners and individuals.
Research has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that there are enormous benefits for learners to be exposed to ICT at the youngest age possible.
You will pleased to learn that the Council of Education Ministers’ (CEM) earlier this year has resolved that ICT is to be one of key priorities for the sector to act as an anchor for the radical transformation of the basic education. We have come to the determination within the sector that ICT is crucial to improve the quality and efficiency of the system from a number of aspects including administration, e-learning and teacher training. However it will require an interdepartmental approach looking at issues of connectivity to implement our vision for 21st century schools. I am pleased to report that such an interdepartmental is in place led by the Presidency. Our main objective is to ensure that by 2019, all schools are ICT enabled and compliant.
I am confident that your commitment to improve quality education will foster values that can produce learners who can consciously use their talents to contribute to resolving the intricate problems besetting South Africa today such as the quadruple challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality and corruption.
When we educate children we give them the intellectual and cognitive tools and means not only to understand their world, their social experience, but also tools to change it.
Business and government working together can succeed in overcoming the challenge facing basic education i.e. the existence of a dual education system - the richest 25% of learners achieve acceptable outcomes while the average outcomes of the majority are extremely poor. Infrastructure, the number of teachers per student and teacher competency varies substantially between rich and poor schools.
For this reason the Department of Basic Education is working to ensure that all private sector interventions are coordinated and synchronised in-order to achieve maximum impact. We are doing so through the initiative known as the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT). I shall return to this point later in my address.
In his 2014 State of the Nation Address, President of the Republic of South Africa His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma said: “Education is a ladder out of poverty for millions of our people.” President Zuma reaffirmed education as, “apex priority for the country”. He called upon all sectors of society to take part in leapfrogging our basic education to new heights arguing quite correctly that, “education is a societal issue”
It is indeed true that we cannot Move South Africa Forward on our own as government. We need reliable partners in social and business sector to partake in this mission of breaking new ground in education. It is within this context that the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) was launched in July 2013. The NECT is a workable structure that is bringing all stakeholders together aligning their individual contributions to the Basic Education’s pressing priorities.
The NECT is a synergised campaign that supports poorly performing and/or poorly resourced schools with creative and effective school interventions, with individual businesses working collectively with community based organisations and ourselves.
As government we are therefore very excited that the NECT is up and running. What is even more touching is that it hit the ground running from day one after it was launched. Since its launch the NECT has registered some notable achievements such as:
- The necessary governance structures to provide leadership and safeguard the resources of the Trust were set up during the second half of the 2013.
- Commitment from business mainly through BLSA was secured. Big business has agreed to contribute 0.004% of their market capitalisation per annum for three years to the NECT in the first 8 districts and 0.008% as additional districts come on board.
- Teacher unions have pronounced their support to the NECT and have been drawn into the district structures set up to provide programme oversight and play a role in social mobilisation programme. Two union members from SADTU and NAPTOSA serves as NECT trustees.
- Eight multi-stakeholder District Steering Committees comprising 142 key district steering committees have been set up to oversee the project implementation and to implement a basic stakeholder mobilisation programme with the district offices: maintaining strategic contact with the MECs, and engagement with the SGBs, teacher unions, religious and traditional leaders once a year in their respective districts.
- Technical capacity has been mobilised in the eight target districts since January to work with the district offices to develop the three-year intervention plans and start with interventions in district offices and schools. Over 28 lead NGOs and companies have organised themselves into the Lead Agencies that will lead the design of the interventions and coordinate other NGOs that will be engaged in the rollout.
- 291 Fresh Start Schools, from first six districts, have been earmarked to receive responsive in-depth interventions aimed at revamping the schools comprehensively.
- Two Education DialogueSA meetings have been organised on how to improve teacher professionalism and secure positive school ethos. DialogueSA takes the same set up as the Education Leadership dialogue that led the establishment of the Education Collaboration Framework and has created an avenue for structured conversations of stakeholders with divergent backgrounds, minimised perception gaps and is formulating a common education improvement agenda.
- The Innovation programme has started documenting the success story of the national examination system, which faced serious administration and security challenges post 1994. The case study will identify the key elements of systems change and create hope about the possibility of changing public systems.
Programme Director, I have spoken at length about the NECT precisely because that’s where I see our partnership going. I am informed that Orlando Pirates Learning Centre and Acer for Education intend to invest further in basic education and to have the Orland Pirates Learning Centre model replicated to other parts of the country.
Firstly, let me welcome the intent. I am certain that the Minister Madam Angie Motshekga shares my excitement at the prospects of this partnership going nationally.
My initial thought is that we need to develop a business case and work within the framework of the NECT for the country-wide roll-out. This is critically for three reasons, 1) it will be easier to tap into abundant human capital for the success of the project, 2) it will simplify implementation as the NECT has a full-time secretariat that ensures the day-to-day running of all its projects, 3) it will make fundraising for any shortfall a walk in the park.
In conclusion, I am thrilled that this partnership is bearing fruits so soon. Let us work together in making it one of the largest interventions in our system since the advent of a new integrated single national education in 1996.
I thank you.