CEO of ORT SA, Mr Yehuda Kay
Representatives of Bidvest and Peregrine
Reps. of UNISA, APEX HI, MHE/NSF & Services SETA
District Directors and officials
School principals, SMTs & SGBs
Our esteemed teachers and learners
I’m delighted to be here with you once more to celebrate the great stuff you’re churning out. With mathematics and science, you unlock for children a world of endless possibilities. Indeed we’re here in recognition of an excellent model for partnerships in mathematics and science education.
The partnership between ORT SA, the business sector, academic institutions, the Gauteng Department of Education and its districts and schools, is indeed the kind of partnership we would like to see replicated everywhere else in the country. In the context of current inequalities, these kinds of partnerships can only maximise impact in education, especially in mathematics and science.
The nature of challenges we face in the area of mathematics and science requires working and clearly focused partnerships. It is therefore encouraging to note that ORT SA’s programmes involve a number of stakeholders with different roles to play.
Even more encouraging is the willingness and dedication of teachers who participate in ORT SA programmes. Research points to the teacher as an important aspect in education.
These are professionals who influence lives of many children. These are professionals who make the leaders of tomorrow.
These are professionals whose job is to make knowledge, which may otherwise remain abstract, meaningful to the young.
These are the professionals who, through patience and dedication, enable our children to break the cycle of poverty.
Well done to all teachers who participated in these projects!
I’m honoured to have been part of the launch of the ORT SA / Bidvest Mathematics and Science Projects in Alexandra 2007 – 2012, during my term as Gauteng MEC for Education.
There was excitement in the air when we launched the project in anticipation of the great work ahead.
Today I’m here again to reap the fruits of our toil for the past years’ work. Well done to you all!
Nothing could be more pleasing than being invited to see the results of what promised to be a good start in the first place!
This symposium is further prove that ORT and its partners in education care about education and indeed are serious about improving learners’ performance in mathematics and science.
The gift of learning you’re giving to learners is the most precious of gifts that can be given to any child. Anything short of making schools work better comes short of expressing love for our children and our nation.
Schools are building blocks for learning and socialisation. The values learnt at school permeate society, just as we try to show in South Africa’s National Development Plan.
Through this project, and most importantly, in Alexandra, ORT SA has identified clearly with government’s key priority – of education of high quality for all.
You chose the right time to reflect on the work we’re all doing to create a better life for all our children.
We’re planning to host a national roundtable discussion on Mathematics, Science, and Technology. It will be attended by stakeholders across the education system, the academia, business, labour and other government departments.
Participants, at the roundtable, will discuss the Department’s Maths, Science and Technology strategy and the Literacy and Numeracy strategy.
Like you’re doing here, with broader society and key stakeholders and partners in education, we will look at ways of improving and elevating the study of mathematics and science.
We need more effective yet creative ways of enticing children to take an interest in this exciting field of science without which not much progress would be made in developing our country and its people.
Evidence has shown that in spite of the hard work we’re doing and the resources we’re channelling to education, challenges abound in respect of results.
Much of the research on education in South Africa has emphasized that while we are doing relatively well on enrolments, our weakness is in the quality of education. This is revealed in TIMSS, in PIRLS, in SACMEQ and in our own Annual National Assessment data.
On 11 December 2012 we will learn how our Grade 9 learners have performed in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2011).
From this we will also draw lessons on how best to strengthen our strategic interventions.
Our strategic interventions are informed by a comprehensive plan aimed at improving schooling, the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.
We recognise that we cannot achieve the desired results at the top end of schooling if we had not done anything in the lower end of schooling. This fact is obviously shared by ORT SA which has zoomed into Grade 1.
One of our goals is to increase the number of learners in Grade 3 who by the end of the year have mastered the minimum language and numeracy competencies of the grade.
ORT SA and its partners are helping us in laying a solid educational foundation. Your efforts will help in achieving the goal of increasing the number of Grade 12 learners who pass mathematics and of those who pass physical science.
In 2007, when we launched the ORT four-year maths intervention for 12 primary schools here in Alexandra, you said the aim of the project was to improve the standard of teaching and learning of numeracy.
If you did not equip our teachers, through both the South African developed and the Singapore numeracy programmes, many children would have probably dumped mathematics saying with traumatised palms on the mouth: “But, for my part, it was Greek to me” (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, I.ii.283).
I support the innovative teacher development approach of ORT and its view that: “The continued support of ORT is excellent as it runs throughout the year for the Grade 1 educators attending workshops and are therefore able to present whatever issues they encounter in class throughout the year” (ORT SA website).
There’s merit in your endeavour to use textbooks to ensure teachers approach the subject the same way, and correctly. You’ve made waves with this approach particularly by ensuring Grade 1 learners have textbooks.
We are hard at work with provincial education departments to promote central procurement of textbooks and a national catalogue for schools, for the same reasons ORT has articulated, and also to benefit from economies of scale.
One of our top priorities is to ‘provide a textbook for each child in each subject.’ Understanding the value of textbooks, as you do, we regret deeply the situation in Limpopo this year regarding delivery of textbooks.
We wish it was a nightmare from which we could just wake up without much ado. That’s why we’ve done all in our power to ensure there is no repeat of that situation. No child deserves such an experience. We’ve ensured that orders are placed in time for the 2013 school year, and that was done in all provinces, and books will be in schools before end of this year.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We thank you for heeding President Jacob Zuma’s call to make education a societal issue. You’ve made a big dent on the educational and human resources development landscape.
On behalf of my Department and the people of Alexandra, I thank ORT SA most heartily for having kept, as you promised in 2007, “that great vow which did incorporate and make us one “(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar. I.i.272) for the sake of education and our country’s future.
Working together in partnership, we can do more to advance our endeavour to ‘educate the nation with the nation.’
My message to our teachers and schools here represented is to make the most of opportunities availed to us by ORT SA in partnership with Bidvest, Peregrine and other partners.
Last but not least, I wish you success in your endeavour to leverage the maths and science project such that by 2014 it would have benefited teachers and learners from Grade 1 to 7.
Thank you for bringing us together to talk about the future of children, especially at a time when the nation’s focus is on the protection of their human rights as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign on No Violence Against Women and Children.
I thank you.