Programme Director, Mr Mio Khondleka
Shoprite Checkers Divisional Manager, Mr Danie du Toit
School Governing Body Chairperson, Mrs Nokhaya Tywini
Principal of Coega Primary, Mr Xolile Mpati
Deputy Principal of Coega Primary, Mr Jerome Maquena
District Director, Dr Nyathi Ntsiko
Representatives of the South African Police Services
Our teachers and learners
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you to Shoprite Checkers for being so caring and responsive to the needs of society and the children in particular. Children are the future. Siyabulela!
In every step we take in the best interest of children, be it fixing a broken desk or window at Coega Primary, lies the recipe of building sustainable and prosperous communities.
Where children study in schools with broken desks and dysfunctional ablution facilities, there cannot be equity, prosperity, and progress. That is why we have prioritised schools in the Eastern Cape and are currently building 49 schools to replace the old mud structures.
The children whose destinies you have touched as Shoprite Checkers are the ones who will preserve our rich African heritage, who will be empowered to take their rightful place in the world as leaders and trendsetters.
It is possible out of this investment to produce highly talented media personalities, like our Programme Director here, Mio, the Programme Manager at Algoa FM, who did his matric in this very province, in Grahamstown.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to remind you that children occupy a pride of place among South Africans who shaped the 2013 government programme of action.
In the opening paragraphs of the 2013 State of the Nation Address, our President confides in us that in assembling government’s programme he sought the advice of the inheritors of our future – the children. In his words:
“I also spent some time with Grade 12 learners who shared their own views on what should be contained in the speech. I found the inputs very informative and enriching.”
The R1 459 490 that you provided with supplier companies to cover the overall costs of repairs to Coega Primary will restore the school’s functionality and help enhance learner attainment.
Thank you to Shoprite Checkers and supplier companies for the repairs of Coega Primary School that included painting, paving, electricity, windows, galvanized window guards and plumbing installations, a new library facility, new verandas, grass planting and a brand new kitchen.
Your investment in education is far more important when we look at it in a broader context of development. The parties to the Nedlac Accord on Basic Education and Partnership with Schools reminded us in 2011 that improving the quality of basic education is a fundamental issue. The Accord states that:
“Performance in the schooling system is at the heart of building the skills base for economic growth and development and ensuring that the society is able to achieve our equity and development goals” (2011: 4).
The South African Schools Act of 1996 has also underscored the transformative nature of education. It has tasked us to build an education system that will truly “redress past injustices in educational provision” and “provide an education of progressively high quality for all learners” (Preamble).
It says we must use education to “advance the democratic transformation of society, combat racism and sexism and other forms of unfair discrimination and intolerance, contribute to the eradication of poverty and the economic wellbeing of society.”
We are happy that since we launched the Nedlac Accord, in 2011, many of our people have heeded the call to make education a societal issue. You all are helping us to turn South Africa’s public schools into functional institutions with proper infrastructure, sound management and other resources.
This timely intervention on the part of Shoprite shows that working together we can do more to improve education quality.
Working together we have made tremendous progress in education. Among other things, we’ve broadened access to education. In 2012, we provided over R3 billion for Grade R. It’s in our interest to ensure that children are well-prepared for formal schooling.
In 1999, South Africa had only 156 292 learners in Grade R. But by 2012, the number had increased to 767 865. There are more than 22 000 Grade R classes in our schools.
There was an increase from just over 20 000 Grade R teachers in 2009 to around 22 000 in 2011.
Our aim is to improve learner outcomes in all levels of the schooling system.
Given the observation of the National Development Plan on the dysfunctionality of some public schools, we have agreed with Provincial Education Departments to do all in our power to see real improvements in performance across the sector.
My Department will enlist services of skilled external experts in relevant areas to monitor and support schools and to help unblock bottlenecks in areas of weakness.
We will focus on improving learner outcomes, which, among other things, calls for accelerated teacher development and training of new teachers, sound school management, district support to teachers and schools, provision of school infrastructure and improving literacy and numeracy skills.
As I have said before, we can build an education system for the 21st Century to the extent that we forge mutual partnerships across sectors. The President has also emphasised the merits of cooperation when he shared the 2013 government Programme of Action with the joint sitting of Parliament.
In his words: “Working with educators, parents, the community and various stakeholders, we will be able to turn our schools into centres of excellence.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this year we will launch a national education partnership initiative whose aim is to help pool resources that are invested in education. It should bring better coordination, synergy and impact to all contributions and interventions in education.
We are aware more needs to be done to sustain the increased access and to improve quality of the educational experience.
Working with provinces and districts, we will ensure that teachers teach children every day, that learners have and use textbooks and workbooks, that the curriculum is covered, that learners have transport and lunch and that they are screened and supported where they need additional support.
In conclusion, we welcome Shoprite’s dedication to improving education in this country. I have no doubt that Coega Primary School will benefit from this intervention. This investment will enhance our work of entrenching a culture of quality teaching and learning. It brings us closer to our goal of securing full functionality for all public schools in South Africa.
I urge the leadership, teachers and learners of Coega Primary School as well as the community of Motherwell to make much of this timely investment by Shoprite.
Just as you rebuild this school as a community, take ownership of it and defend it at all costs. We thank you for the work you have done with your councillors to renovate Coega.
You understood clearly that your future and prosperity of your children depend on education.
Census 2011 did show that 63% of the population lives in urban areas. With rural development in mind, supporting schools like Coega, will provide a lasting solution to the problem of poverty and underdevelopment. Working together we can do more to improve the quality of life of all our people.
I thank you.