Officials and Staff
The objective of this meeting is to establish the readiness of the sector to administer the end of year assessments and learner preparedness for these. This is very important because it will assist the department to track progress in terms of improving quality learning and teaching in schools. This is done through the quarterly monitoring and reporting of learner performance in literacy and numeracy in grades 3, 6 and 9 and all subjects in grade 12.
Reporting on learner performance includes a critical focus on progressed learners to enable the system to reflect on how they are doing and how to strengthen support to them and the rest of the learners in the remaining months to the end of year examinations and assessments.
It is once again that time of the year when all of us in the education sector are gearing up for the final push towards the end of the year, with just 30 days to go until the class of 2017 sits for their final National Senior Certificate examinations. We can as a system say we are ready.
The Department has been working tirelessly to ensure that the examinations are up to standard and that this year there are no irregularities.
There are 636,814 registered full-time and 161,475 part-time candidates in the 2017 examinations, 37,000 less than 2016 in terms of full-time enrolment.
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have the largest enrolments again with 169,023 and 112,164 respectively. Limpopo has 110,639 while Eastern Cape registered 92,755 candidates for the 2017 exams.
To avert leakage of 2017 question papers, all 212 storage points across the country have been audited to ensure compliance with the minimum security standards. Storage points that do not comply will not be allowed to store question papers.
One of the things we have been looking at more closely as a sector and one of the focal points of the Department's provincial visits was the tracking of learner performance throughout the year. We are now looking at how learners have performed in the mid-year examinations and providing specific support for struggling learners. Some provinces have done better than others in this respect but the meeting resolved that as we prepare for the last push before the examinations, provinces will focus on ensuring they provide adequate support to learners.
The review session conducted by the DBE in each of the nine PEDs has confirmed the following:
Provinces are doing their best to give attention to the issues raised in previous reports. However budgetary constraints are a limiting factor. Monitoring capacity in a number of PEDs is constrained by funding. Independent centres that are not accredited have to be managed by the PED and this is placing a strain on some Provincial Departments, this has been identified as a risk that needs to be attended to.
Based on the Profile of the 2017 learner cohort, the support and interventions provided in the system, we are confident learners are ready for the 2017 examinations albeit some changes in the subjects. We are pleased to report that we too are ready for the National Senior Certificate examinations from a systems perspective, so it is all systems go.
Corporal punishment is an issue that has once again raised its ugly head; we have seen extremely disturbing videos emerge on social media of disgusting misconduct by teachers. We have had reports from a number of provinces on different forms of corporal punishment that is still taking place in schools despite it being outlawed for more than 20 years.
Learners are now empowered with technology which is assisting the Department to manage and root out this practice.
It is evident by the emergence of the viral videos and reports from learner organisations that corporal punishment is still taking place in schools. Disturbing statistics indicate that over 50% of learners have experienced corporal punishment at some point in their schooling and that it is on the increase.
South African schools are currently challenged by violence and disciplinary issues and these challenges including disrespect, absenteeism, late coming, neglect of school work, stealing, fighting, drug trafficking and initiation practices are not limited to learners alone.
In 2015 the Department hosted a School Safety Summit, addressing the “Elimination of Corporal Punishment in Schools”.
During the Summit, a task team was established among the stakeholders and was mandated to develop a draft Protocol dealing with incidences of corporal punishment in schools. The Department has developed the Protocol for the Elimination of Corporal Punishment in South African Schools.
Corporal punishment is a manifestation of the violence that is endemic in South African society and in many ways is used to exert a form of control. Often parents expect and demand teachers use ‘mild’ forms of corporal punishment, as it is believed to be an important part of teaching children discipline. This practice is prohibited in schools as parents cannot abdicate their responsibility to discipline their children.
The DBE has developed a strategy to support poor performing schools based on the lessons learned from the June 2007 Pam Christie Ministerial pilot study on Schools that Work (STW) whose main findings were that such schools:
1. Have highly committed principals, teachers and learners;
2. Organise teaching and learning well;
3. Are effectively led and managed; and
4. Acknowledge, praise and motivate learners and teachers in public ways for good performance.
The Strategy is also based on the 2016/7 Auditor-General’s findings, the NEEDU report and the DBE oversight visits to provinces – that will be presented tomorrow in this meeting.
The strategy contains practical suggestions for principals to implement to address the challenges they face. It has simplified tools to assist school principals to improve accountability in the school by focusing on the following four pillars:
1. Strengthening the culture of performance management within the school;
2. Simplifying and aligning the evaluation instruments;
3. Strengthening monitoring and support; and
4. Strengthening reporting at all levels.
The last CEM was presented with a proposal for discussion on the resourcing of inclusive education in the sector.
It proposed National Guidelines for Resourcing an Inclusive Education System that deals with resourcing as it relates to the inclusive education system as a whole. This system comprises Special Schools, Special Schools/Resource Centres, Full-service Schools, Ordinary Public Schools, and District-based Support Teams. It addresses barriers in two focal areas: 1) teaching and learning and 2) psycho-social and health support.
The document motivates for the development of an integrated and holistic approach which does not separate support provisioning of special and ordinary schools from that of districts and aims at strengthening support to all learners who experience barriers to learning in the system on a continuum from low to high intensity support.
The Guidelines must be seen as a key procedure to ensure the transformation of the education system towards an inclusive education system in line with the prescripts of Education White Paper 6 on Special Needs Education: Building an Inclusive Education and Training System (2001).
By introducing a centralised and district-based approach towards rationalising support services, there will be more cost-effective, efficient and equitable use of scarce resources such as specialised support professionals, equipment and assistive technology.
The introduction of outreach services delivered on a mobile basis from the central support node of the District-based Support Team, Special School Resource Centre and Full-Service Schools will ensure that all learners will be able to access support in ordinary schools, reducing the need for referral for placement in special schools, except in the case of learners who need high intensity and high frequency support.
Progress has been made in many areas around curriculum initiatives.
We are ready to start to roll out the National Integrated Assessment Framework (NIAF) next year. With these National Assessments we will be assessing Grade’s 3, 6, and 9. There will be three tiers to these assessments: they will consist of systematic assessments, diagnostic assessments and summative assessments. The systematic and diagnostic assessments will start in 2018, and the plan is to have the summative assessment in 2019.
With regards to the roll out of the three stream education system, we are very excited to report that huge progress has been made with regards to the roll out of the technical vocational education stream. We have strengthened the technical vocational education pathway and have introduced specialisations such as fitting and machining, welding and construction to name a few. We have also strengthened these subjects by introducing technical mathematics and technical science.
These subjects were offered to Grade 10 last year and this year we have a cohort of Grade 11’s and next year we will take it to the Grade 12 level.
With regards to the Occupational Vocational stream we are in the process of formalising the curriculum that will be on offer.
We are also going to strengthen schools that offer sector specific skills (Focus Schools) for example, agricultural schools, and hotel and tourism schools among others. We are also working closely with major industry players and the relevant SETAs to provide work based learning opportunities.
I hope that we have been able to take stock of where we are as a system and can safely predict what to expect at the end of the academic year.
Let me take this opportunity to wish all the learners in our schools well, especially the Class of 2017, as they prepare for the end of year examinations and assessment.