Programme Director, Ms Simone Geyer
CEO of ETDP SETA, Ms Nombulelo Nxesi
Chairperson of the Board, Mrs Shirley Mabusela
Esteemed colleagues and delegates,
It gives me great pleasure to address you on the occasion of the 5th Biennial Conference of the ETDP SETA.
Since the establishment of SETAs a few years ago, the ETDP SETA has registered remarkable progress in building capacity within the ETD sector.
It has contributed immensely to the realisation of the objectives of South Africa’s human resource development strategy.
The ETDP SETA has done much to respond to the needs of our economy in a time when the world is still reeling from economic challenges flowing from the 2008 financial turmoil in Europe.
Developing a skilled and capable workforce
I believe that in the context of high unemployment, coupled with a widely recognised skills shortfall, reducing poverty depends largely on giving citizens a better educational start in life.
This is why broadening access to quality education has been a priority among democratic South Africans.
Without a sound, quality basic education system, we should indeed discard the notion of “developing a skilled and capable workforce in the ETD sector for an inclusive growth path.”
You have selected an apt theme for conference. Most importantly you have located it in the context of the National Development plan, which says:
“Education, training and innovation are not a solution to all problems, but society’s ability to solve problems, develop competitively, eliminate poverty and reduce inequality is severely hampered without them.”
This is why we resolved earlier as the ANC government that education be the nation’s apex priority.
We remain committed to the historical task of improving access, quality, efficiency and equity in education, a determination to which the President of our beloved republic alluded to in the 2013 State of the Nation Address.
I want to say as a challenge to this conference that we will unlock the post school education system for a developmental state to the extent that we build, collectively, a quality basic education system.
It is against this background, Ms Nxesi, that I believe the two of us are reading from the same script when we say:
‘The quality of basic education and skills, as well as knowledge acquired therefrom, are the fundamental stepping stones towards a viable and responsive post school education system for a developmental state.’
In the absence of a primary education of quality, when young people complete matric and move to post school institutions, we then are condemned perpetually to commit resources to bridge gaps accruing from the formative years of learning.
This indeed keeps out of reach the goal of building a seamless system of education that takes a child from early childhood programmes through the schooling system to the tertiary level.
The 2007 community survey from Stats SA revealed that there were 2.8 million young people not in education and not in employment. This means that strengthening the education and training system to cater for the needs of all, especially the youth and the vulnerable, is urgent.
The development of the Green Paper for Post School Education and Training by the Department of Higher Education and Training is a very important development for our country. Indeed it will strengthen our education and training system.
Our two departments are charged with the task of providing a comprehensive quality education and training system that addresses the needs of the economy and the country.
We trust this conference will enrich our ideas and strategies for developing a skilled and capable workforce. It is only in this way that we can advance the vision of building a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society.
Like many education systems in the world, South Africa has its set of challenges, thus the need for us to work together to improve performance of the system.
It is a known fact that our country is experiencing critical shortages in key areas such as maths, science, technology and accounting. This has been reflected in the low achievement of our learners in these subjects.
The business of our education system remains to educate the child. The bulk of our resources is channelled such that our learners have access to the best education possible.
We have to ensure our learners have highly skilled and knowledgeable teachers in order to improve their chances of success. Accountability must improve across the system.
Notwithstanding our challenges, we have made progress in turning around schooling.
We know the problems therefore we have singled out critical areas whose resolution will lead to a better quality basic education system that’s vital for building a viable and seamless post education system.
In 19 years we did much in education far more than the Bantu Education system did in over 40 years.
National Senior Certificate
The 2012 National Senior Certificate exam was the 5th written on the National Curriculum Statement. This is in part evidence of growing stability in our integrated national education system for South Africans across racial lines.
There has been a consistent improvement in the performance of learners and the number of learners obtaining the National Senior Certificate over the last four years. In 2009 the national average pass rate was 60.6%, in 2010 it was 67.8% and in 2011 it was 70.2%. In 2012 it had reached 73.9%.
Annual National Assessments
We introduced Annual National Assessments for learners in the primary phase as a diagnostic tool to inform the system where and how interventions need to be made. In 2012 we expanded the second ANA to include learners in Grade 9.
On the one hand, the results demonstrated that focused interventions are bearing fruit. On the other, ANA results said there is an urgent need to focus resources and expertise on improving learner performance particularly in the Senior Phase. It is through this institutionalised assessment, and the NSC, that progress will be measured and monitored and information on school performance made more widely available.
Internationally, South Africa’s improvement in Maths, of 67 TIMSS points between 2002 and 2011, or 7 points per year on average, is among the steepest seen by TIMSS’ participants.
As part of the drive to improve quality of learning and teaching, we took the unprecedented step of developing and distributing workbooks to all Grade 1-9 learners in 2012. We provided 900 000 Grade R workbooks, 6 754 525 for Home languages, and 919 220 for Grade 1-9 Mathematics.
A total of 411 675 we provided for Grades 1-6 English First Additional Language. These workbooks were sent to 24 355 schools across the country, benefiting over 11 million learners.
We provided with the Mark Shuttleworth Foundation 1 277 550 Grade 10-12 Mathematics textbooks and 934 700 Physical Science textbooks. This was part of our strategy to improve performance in mathematics and science at the FET level.
We have also developed a national catalogue and strengthened monitoring of procurement and distribution.
We believe this will ensure concentrated quality assurance processes and economies of scale. We should work together towards achieving the goal of 100% retrieval of textbooks.
On the whole, we have strengthened the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) through the development of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements.
The General Education and Training Band should be able to prepare learners for academic, vocation and occupation specific pathways from Grade 10.
We have made adjustments to the school curriculum to ensure learners acquire basic skills and competencies in reading, writing and maths.
These competencies should lay the basis for further study as well as for entry into the world of work. In addition, we are working on a national task team to strengthen implementation of the Mathematics, Science and Technology Strategy.
We have undertaken a major recapitalisation programme for the 1 096 technical high schools in the system and are grateful for the injection we have received for the next financial year.
Better run, and with active involvement of the private sector, technical schools will provide learners with skills that can be applied directly in the workplace. We have also initiated a programme to strengthen the curriculum for these schools.
Last Tuesday when we addressed the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at a Business Breakfast, we invited the private sector to work with us to ensure the curriculum is in line with the needs of business and industry.
All of this properly done has great potential to make a dent on employment creation and better labour absorption, poverty eradication and inequality reduction.
We are of the view that successful implementation of our streamlined curriculum depends on strengthened teacher development programmes.
We are implementing the integrated teacher development plan developed following the Teacher Development Summit of 2009. We have made teacher development a joint responsibility through the groundbreaking agreement we have concluded with teacher unions. This should reinforce gains in this area.
Since 2002, the percentage of publicly employed educators with at least a three-year post-matric qualification has increased from 80% to 96%.
An estimated 4000 subject advisors and 220 000 teachers have participated in orientation sessions for the revised CAPS.
We are strengthening also the capacity of Teacher Centres so that they can better support teachers on content knowledge, pedagogy and effective implementation of the revised CAPS.
Through the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, we hope to draw more young and talented people into the system.
These bursaries we offer to young people for studies in mathematics, the sciences and languages. By the end of 2012, we had awarded around 11.500 bursaries.
This intervention makes a difference notwithstanding problems around graduate placement. We have agreed with provinces to attend seriously to this challenge so as to benefit the nation fully from this investment.
A boost to our efforts was the announcement by the President of a Presidential Remuneration Commission to review salaries of public servants. Teachers will receive a first priority.
Early Childhood Development
We have prioritised Early Childhood Development (ECD) given its importance in the formative years of learning.
The Grade R programme is one of our critical interventions. Through this programme we aim to ensure children are well-prepared for formal schooling.
We’ve done very well as the democratic state to broaden access to Grade R post-1994. In 2012, total funding for Grade R was over R3 billion. Over 90% of schools offer Grade R compared to a decade ago.
In 1999, South Africa had only 156 292 learners in Grade R. By 2012, the number had increased to 767 865. There are more than 22 000 Grade R classes in our schools.
Broadening our ECD programme supports the national drive towards job-creation and skills development particularly for women. We had an increase from just over 20 000 Grade R teachers in 2009 to around 22 000 in 2011.
A major challenge is to improve quality of ECD, allocate more resources and improve qualifications of Grade R teachers.
The participation rate among 7 to 15 year old children has also increased, to almost 100%, making it quite clear that we will meet the Millennium Development Goals in this respect.
On ICT, we want to see much learning happening through the use of computers and, from Grade 3 onwards, we want learners to become computer literate. We are working with the Department of Communication on school connectivity initiatives to ensure schools make use of ICTs to improve the quality of teaching and learning and to scale-up school administration.
Another area in which South Africa is making progress is the Kha ri Gude Mass Literacy programme. Kha ri Gude has reached 2 243 766 adults between 2008 and 2011, with 665 246 in classes in 2012. Through this literacy programme we have contributed to poverty alleviation, by providing short term employment to 42 607 volunteers.
School infrastructure is another key priority for our sector. Last December, the National School Build Programme under the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Committee was launched.
This will help to address national backlogs in classrooms, libraries, computer labs, media centres and admin buildings.
This Programme also embraces long-term infrastructure planning and budgeting for education. Under government’s Strategic Integrated Programme 13, there are two national programmes. The first is a provincially-driven programme with a national budget of R8.5 billion.
The second is the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative. R8.2 billion is allocated to this programme of which R3.1 billion is already committed within projects being implemented. In addition, a national strategy for the maintenance of public ordinary schools has been developed.
Our care and support services for learners have improved tremendously. We offer a hot cooked meal to over 8 million learners, every day, through the National School Nutrition Programme – one of our key pro-poor interventions. This is to ensure that learners remain in school.
We have also scaled-up the number of no-fee schools with the aim of ensuring all children have access to schooling. Over 69% of our schools are now no-fee schools. As part of our pro-poor policies, we also offer transport and uniforms to learners.
We are working very well with other social services to ensure that learners have access to the child support grant and psychosocial support.
In February (2013), we launched with President Jacob Zuma the Stop-Rape Campaign in Cape Town in light of the scourge of violence that has been on the rise in the past months.
We need all the help we can get for this DBE and LEAD SA-led Stop-Rape Campaign whose aim is to raise awareness and educate the 10.2 million learners in South African schools.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Government cannot do it alone. It was against this background that we signed and committed to the Nedlac Accord on Basic Education and Partnership with Schools, in 2011, as part of the social dialogue on the New Growth Path.
We committed to support the drive towards quality teaching and quality learning; a development quite essential for achieving the vision imbedded in the theme of this conference.
The Nedlac Accord commits all of us to work together to change the mindset of teachers, learners and parents in order to tackle dysfunctional parts of the basic education system, particularly in poorly-performing schools.
Together we are bound by the Basic Education Sector Delivery Agreement that commits all of us, as DBE officials, Provincial MECs, the ELRC, SACE and the ETDP SETA to achieve the targets set out in the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.
As the DBE, we view the ETDP SETA as an important partner towards the achievement of our targets. The areas that you have prioritised in your sector skills plan, including ECD practitioners, Mathematics, Science and Technology, are critical areas that should bring about substantial improvement.
The primary focus of your skills programmes, particularly mentoring, coaching and training on material and curriculum development, will go a long way towards empowering our school management teams. Delivery in our schools will be improved by building strong leadership in all public schools.
I am happy with the level of commitment and dedication shown by the ETDP SETA to the improvement of education.
This you demonstrated also in the level of involvement in the 2009 Teacher Development Summit.
With a shared country perspective on education, we can do more to advance the production of knowledge and skills critical for building an inclusive economy.
In sum, it is our wish that everybody realises that education is an essential service for our nation, by treating it with the seriousness that it deserves.
Once more, all thanks to Ms Nxesi and our SETA for convening this successful conference.
I’m confident your deliberations will strengthen our capacity to meet our obligations and targets as contained in the Action Plan to 2014, and aligned to the National Development Plan.
Working together we can do more to create a quality basic education system that will provide the stepping stones for a country in which all people will have access to lifelong learning, education and training opportunities, which will in turn contribute towards improving the quality of life and building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa.
I thank you.