Honourable Members and Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen
Speaker, thank you for the 2018/19 Debate on Vote 14 – Basic Education, which is delivered and debated on the year, in which we are marking the centenary celebrations of President Nelson Mandela and umama Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu. A lot has already been said about these two struggle icons, but allow me Speaker to add my voice as well.
After President Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela was released from 27 years of incarceration in the notorious apartheid prisons – the Robben Island, and later Pollsmoor Prison, and Victor Verster Prison, he pursued an agenda of peace and prosperity, truth and reconciliation, as well as reconstruction and development of our democratic country and its people. Madiba came to embody the struggle for justice in South Africa and the world at large.
On his release on 11 February 1990, Madiba called for peace, not vengeance. Who can forget his famous words on the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall when he said “Comrades and fellow South Africans, I greet you all in the name of peace, democracy and freedom. I stand here before you, not as a prophet, but as a humble servant of you, the people … Today, the majority of South Africans, black and white, recognise that apartheid has no future. It has to be ended by our decisive mass action. We have waited too long for our freedom”.
Speaker; President Mandela was an embodiment of humility. President Mandela did not only teach us about the virtues of selflessness, but he exhibited such virtues in his everyday life. He demonstrated through words and deeds what it means to be a selfless and true leader of the people.
This year, we also mark the centenary celebration of another giant of our struggle, umama Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu. Through her remarkable life and outstanding leadership, she defined what it means to be a freedom fighter, and disciplined servant of the people. Through her diligent leadership, she embodied the fundamental link between national liberation and gender emancipation.
Speaker, as President Cyril Ramaphosa said during his inaugural State of the Nation Address, we honour President Mandela and umama Sisulu “in a year of change, a year of renewal, a year of hope.” Through the centenary celebrations of their lives, we are not merely honouring the past, we are building the future – yes, a “new dawn” for South Africa.
Strategic realignment of the basic education sector
Speaker and Honourable Members, during my 2017/18 Budget Vote Debate, I reminded this august House that in 2015, UNESCO had adopted the global education agenda, Education 2030, which is part of the seventeen UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. SDG 4 in particularly, calls for an inclusive, quality and equitable education and lifelong opportunities for all.
I also reminded this House that in our local context, we have translated the UNESCO SDGs into our Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, which is designed to achieve the long-term vision of education as encapsulated in our world-renowned Constitution and the National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030. Our Constitution declares basic education as an inalienable basic human right for all South Africans; while the NDP directs that “by 2030, South Africans should have access to education and training of the highest quality, leading to significantly improved learning outcomes.
Therefore, the Constitution, the NDP, as well as the continental and international conventions, provide the moral imperative and a mandate to Government to make access, redress, equity, efficiency, inclusivity and quality educational opportunities, widely available to all citizens.
Speaker, our strategic vision for a transformed, realigned and repositioned basic education sector is that “of a South Africa, in which all our people [irrespective of race, socio-economic background, and religious beliefs] will have access to [quality and efficient] 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”.
As we approach the end of the fifth administration of our democratic Government, in reflecting on the work we have done so far, guided by our vision, the following quintessential observations remain pertinent in the trajectory of our journey as a sector –
- We have successfully created a single integrated basic education sector, based on the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution, as well as the regional, continental and international protocols.
- We have accelerated the implementation of the principles of social justice, namely access, redress, equity and inclusivity, and made progress in efficiency and quality to afford lifelong educational opportunities to our young people.
- We have brought about stability in curriculum implementation, which has led to a sustained improvement of the teaching and learning outcomes, and strengthened our National Curriculum Statements through the introduction of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS), which is viewed as one of the best in the world.
- We have repositioned and strengthened the alignment of the basic education sector, in preparation for providing young people with skills, competencies, and knowledge for the changing world. This we continue to do through the implementation of the Three-Stream Curriculum Model, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Entrepreneurship, and the UNESCO International Bureau of Education Framework for Future Skills and Competencies.
- We have established a solid foundation for accountability and provided strategic leadership in provincial efforts to provide quality education through meeting regularly with our internal structures and created new ones, such as quarterly meetings with district directors, informed by specific themes driving quality of education; and annual meetings with provinces, as well as monitoring and reporting on key activities and galvanised broad civil society, focusing on our core business of teaching and learning in the classroom.
- We are first to acknowledge that, while we have made such good progress in our journey towards a democratic South Africa and its basic education system we desire, we are still striving for the foundational skills of reading, writing and counting (arithmetic), as well as having the basic necessities in place for quality teaching and learning to take place, especially in the early Grades.
I wish to encourage this House to read our Medium-Term Strategic Framework and Performance Plans for more details. For this Budget Vote Debate, the Honourable Deputy Minister will specifically outline some of our achievements in making access, redress, equity, efficiency, inclusivity and quality educational opportunities, widely available to all our citizens.
Budget allocation, Vote 14 – Basic Education for the 2018 MTEF Period
Speaker, I must state upfront that budgetary constraints in the sector have attracted a lot of attention over the last year, largely because of the weak economic growth; the basic education sector, like most other service delivery areas, has had to reduce what it purchases. This has occurred while enrolments in our schools have increased substantially, largely due to demographic factors.
I would like assure this House that we are monitoring the situation very carefully, and we are engaging with the National Treasury on this matter. We are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue the trajectory of educational improvement we have seen over most of the past fifteen or so years.
Speaker, the pertinent question therefore, is what is the DBE doing to address the budget and spending situation even though the DBE is also experiencing budget pressures? The DBE’s 2018/19 budget, represents only a one percent increase over the previous financial year’s allocation. In inflation-adjusted terms, this means that we are seeing a decline in the overall budget allocation for the basic education sector. However, personnel spending is almost keeping pace with wage trends – meaning that we will continue to have the officials at the national level to support our provincial education departments.
One way in which we are supporting our provincial education departments, is to strengthen financial management and planning; though we must concede that financial management and planning in a context of budgetary constraints, is not an easy task. We are working with provincial education departments to ensure that we do not overspend, while we make gallant attempts to keep within our budgets appropriated.
I was heartened by the measures put forward by His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa in his inaugural State of the Nation Address, to put the country back on track, as far as economic growth is concerned. This will ease the pressures on the education sector, and create a better environment for educational improvement, which as we should all know, is a prerequisite for a healthy economy and society, and for our ongoing task of tackling the legacy of deep inequality in South Africa.
Speaker and the Honourable Members, allow me to highlight the following in relation to the Budget Vote 14 – Basic Education for the 2018 MTEF period –
The overall 2018/19 MTEF budget allocation for the Department of Basic Education is just under twenty three billion Rands (R23 billion), which as a result of the austerity measures, was decreased by three percent (3%) from the 2017/18 allocation. Speaker the breakdown of the budget by Education Programme, is as follows –
- The allocation for Administration increased by 8.2% from last year’s allocation to about R450 million.
- Curriculum Policy Support and Monitoring receives just less than R2 billion, the same allocation as in 2017/18.
- The allocation for Teacher Education Human Resource and Institutional Development increased by 5.7% to R1.3 billion.
- Planning Information and Assessment is allocated R12 billion, a decrease of 9.1% from the 2017/18 allocation.
- The allocation for Educational Enrichment Services increased by 5.9% from last year’s allocation to R7.1 billion.
Conditional Grant Allocations over the 2018 MTEF Period
The overall allocation for Condition Grants is R17.5 billion – an increase of 2.1% from that of 2017/18. The specific allocations for Conditional Grants are as follows –
- The Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Grant, is allocated R370.5 million, a 1.5% increase from last year’s allocation.
- Infrastructure delivery – which continues to be funded through the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) and the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI – also known as the School Infrastructure Backlog Grant), is funded at R9.9 billion; and R1.5 billion, respectively – a decrease of 1.3% and 43.5%, respectively from the 2017/18 allocations.
- HIV and AIDS, whose purpose is to support South Africa’s HIV and TB prevention strategy, has been allocated R243.2 million, a decrease of just less than one percent from last year’s allocation.
- The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) has been allocated R6.8 billion, an increase of 5.8% from the 2017/18 allocation. It must be noted that the NSNP budget allocation for 2018/19, has increased by six times from the R1.2 billion allocated in 2007/08.
- The Learners with Severe to Profound Intellectual Disabilities Grant receives R185.5 million, almost three times the R72 million activation allocation of 2017/18.
- Speaker, I wish to thank the National Treasury for allocating R29.2 million as a general budget support allocation for Rural Education Assistants Project (REAP). This amount will increase with a total of R58.3 million in the outer two year of the 2018 MTEF. We are in the process of identifying unemployed young Matriculants to be appointed as Education Assistants in curricular and co-curricular activities in six rural districts in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo.
Earmarked allocations and transfer payments to public entities over the 2018 MTEF Period
- The allocation for theFunza Lushaka Bursary Programme has increased by 5.5% from last year’s allocation to R1.2 billion.
Honourable Members, the NDP enjoins us to strengthen and expand the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme, to attract young students into the teaching profession. During this current financial year, more than fifteen thousand (15 000) Funza Lushaka bursaries have been awarded to student teachers for the Initial Teacher Education programme. We have successfully placed eighty nine percent (89%) of Funza Lushaka graduates in our schools; and as at December 2017, just under three thousand five hundred (3 500) of the Funza Lushaka graduates, who are thirty (30) years or younger, have been successfully placed in our schools.
- The 2018/19 subsidy to Umalusi has increased by 5.6% from last year’s allocation to R135.7 million.
- The National Senior Certificate Learner Retention Programme, also known as the Second Chance Programme, introduced in 2016 to respond to the NDP’s injunction that retention rates should be improved; and drop-out rates reduced, provides support to learners who could not meet the pass requirements of the National Senior Certificate Examinations. During the 2018/19 financial year, the Programme is allocated R65.7 million, an increase of 46% from last year’s allocation.
- National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) – The importance of public-private partnerships is a prevalent theme of the NDP; and is also consistent with the call to make education a societal issue. To this end, the allocation for NECT has increased by 5.6% to R117.2 million.
- Workbooks, including Braille workbooks for visually impaired learners, have been allocated R1.1 billion, an increase of 5.7% from last year’s allocation.
- The South African Council of Educators (SACE) is allocated a subsidy of R16 million for the 2018/19 financial year.
- For the 2018/19, Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) –has been allocated R11 million, which will increase by R28 million over the outer two years of the 2018 MTEF period.
- Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) – Operation Phakisa, receive R16 million, which will increase by just under R36 million over the two outer years of the 2018 MTEF period.
Speaker, let me end the detail on the Budget, by stating that in line with the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals, we are paying more attention than ever to the equality of service delivery. There are still vast inequalities, but we should not ignore the gains we have made. A 2007 UNESCO Report, namely, the Educational Equity and Public Policy: Comparing Results from 16 Countries, is an example to the world when it comes to ensuring that public spending is equitably distributed, and that we do not ignore our rural areas and poor communities. Credit must go to the ANC-led Government for achieving this. We need to make sure that, in the current economic and fiscal climate, we continue to prioritise those programmes that need the funding most.
Strategic focus areas currently in our radar
In the year during which we mark the centenary celebrations of our stalwarts – President Mandela and umama Sisulu, and for the purposes of the 2018/19 Budget Vote Debate we wish to highlight a few ongoing programmes that extend beyond the ongoing objectives of the basic education sector. The extension of these programmes goes much deeper into the content, substance, quality and relevance of our work in the context of an ever changing world.
The first focus area is the review of our progression and promotion policies, especially in the lower Grades. A number of education experts have opined on this matter, and the overwhelming message is that it does not make any educational sense to make young children aged six to ten years, to repeat a Grade. According to the experts, the children who repeat, on the whole, gain absolutely nothing. On the contrary, for many affected children, repetition is a powerful early signal of failure – a signal that lasts through the individual’s life. To improve the efficiency of the system, we are also focusing on Grades 9 to 11, as repetition and drop-out rates are also high in these Grades.
The second focus area is Early Childhood Development (ECD). One of the NDP directives states that “there should be a policy and programme shift to ensure that the DBE takes the core responsibility for the provision and monitoring of ECD. Other departments should continue to provide services in a supportive capacity. Resource allocation should gradually reflect the changes in institutional responsibility for ECD”. This is strategic to ensure that ECD from birth, becomes the foundation of the entire basic education system.
Speaker, I can report that we have already initiated processes to ensure that the transitional arrangements between the two sister departments are smooth and seamless. To ensure quality and efficient ECD delivery, we must address the inhibitors identified in the NDP, such as dealing with institutional arrangements and the legal lacuna for an effective and efficient ECD delivery; professionalising and capacitating the current and future human resources; providing appropriate infrastructure, adequate funding and resources; strengthening relevant support agencies; reaching the most vulnerable children and families; and ensuring that the departments responsible for different aspects of ECD, do cooperate in the planning, implementation and monitoring of ECD provision.
The third focus area is the reality we have repeatedly stated that the internal efficiency of the system and quality basic education outcomes can only be achieved through specific and deliberate interventions in the early Grades. This, we are doing, because research shows that the major root causes of failure and drop-out rates towards the end of secondary schooling, are weak learning foundations. Therefore, our primary focus is to improve the quality of learning and teaching as well as quality outcomes in the early Grades.
It is through our intervention programmes, such as the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA), the Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS, piloted in the North West and Mpumalanga), and the Read to Lead Campaign that our learners in the Foundation Phase can be equipped with the foundational skills needed to cope with the curriculum requirements of the higher Grades, as well as the requisite skills and competencies for a changing world. After all Speaker, leading nations, are indeed reading nations!!
The fourth focus area is that of strengthening the curriculum content, quality, and relevance in subject offerings, such as History; Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST); Agriculture especially in rural schools. We are currently processing invaluable inputs from Ministerial Task Teams, the Basic Education Makgotla, programme-specific Roundtables, and from our strategic partners on the levers that will enable us to achieve this. Attention to quality inclusive education and rural education is part of this focus area.
The fifth focus area is our response to the reality that the world is changing rapidly, what is now referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We have been part of the global fora, such as UNESCO, African Union, Brookings Institution, LEGO Foundation, and many others, in preparing the sector to provide our young people with skills and competencies for the changing world. Critical thinking and problem solving; creativity and innovation, collaboration and communication, social justice and human rights have been identified as critical skills and competencies that our young people must be able to demonstrate.
Research conducted by the Brookings Institution, one of leading think-tanks in the world, has found that all the requisite skills and competencies for the changing world, are encapsulated in our CAPS-curriculum. We have been advised to focus on the training of teachers, to reflect on these skills and competencies in teaching and learning; and this we have started to do.
The sixth focus area is that of improving the coordination and coherence of the sector, by improving planning, monitoring and evaluation. A number of activities are currently underway to improve planning, monitoring and evaluation processes. An exercise has been undertaken to align our national goals and monitoring with international goals and reporting through the UNESCO;’s Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa.
A national assessment framework, which will include regular systemic evaluations to measure progress in the quality of learning; and early learning assessment tool to measure system progress in the extent to which children entering Grade 1 are prepared for schooling based on their ECD and Grade R experience, are being finalised. The 2017/18 School Monitoring Survey is expected to provide updated indicator values for the goals expressed in the Action Plan to 2019.
The availability of credible data and information, and the use of evidence through research, monitoring and evaluation in the sector contribute towards identifying areas where there is insufficient coordination and in the system, and assists in unpacking challenges to provide possible solutions in the quest to improve quality and efficiency. There is tangibly more understanding and cooperation within the basic education sector – among officials, partners, business, organised labour, and other stakeholders. However, the tensions between accountability and institutional improvement still require unpacking.
The seventh critical area is the refocusing of infrastructure planning, coordination and delivery. The deficiencies found in this area, exacerbated by the inability of the sector to attract the build industry specialists required, and the challenges related to financial disbursements, are getting a special focus. We are in constant engagement with The National Treasury, the Department of Public Works, and our strategic partners in this area. The fact that we had to face two fatalities, related to two Grade R children drowning in pit latrines is lamentable, and could have been prevented. We are mobilising all available resources, including the participation of the of the private sector and build industry professionals in or quest to head the President’s call for a thorough audit of inappropriate sanitation facilities and the development of a costed plan.
The budget cuts, exacerbated by the fact that provincial education departments have since stopped to allocate funds for infrastructure delivery, will make it difficult to conform to the norms and standards for school infrastructure. The current pressures on appropriate sanitation provisioning in our schools, will require innovative funding strategies, including generous contributions from the private sector and South Africans.
Last but not the least, is the focus area of social transformation and cohesion. The programmes, through which we continue to promote national unity and pride as well as social transformation and cohesion, include school sport as well as school choral and indigenous music events. For school sport, fairly soon, we will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Sport and Recreation on the roll-out of competitive and recreational school sport programmes. Choral and indigenous music events are coordinated through a five-year partnership with the Motsepe Foundation. We invite the Honourable Members to honour us with their presence at this events, you will definitely not regret it.
Conclusion and tributes
In conclusion, Radical Economic Transformation, a progressive policy of the Ruling Party, must be predicted on radical social transformation. Basic Education is a fundamental component of this essential premise for sustainable development for livelihood, peace and prosperity. Now that we have laid a solid foundation by advancing the implementation of social justice principles the next, and the most immediate task in the sector is to deal with these areas in the sector, which are core to radical social transformation and cohesion. We have already identified and started to deal with these areas through the modality of Roundtable discussions and other forms of engagement, with the context that education is a societal matter. We hope that the sixth administration will be seized with this work, and take it to its logical conclusion.
Speaker, let me thank Deputy Minister Enver Surty, my Cabinet colleagues, the Chairpersons of the Education Portfolio and Select Committees and their respective members, all Honourable Members of this House, Education MECs, Heads of Provincial Departments and their officials, our Director-General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli and his team, as well as officials in my office, for their counsel and unwavering support.
I am immensely grateful to all the teachers, principals, parents, learners, SGBs, individuals, and our strategic partners, who work tirelessly to make the quality and efficiency of the basic education system a reality in the various parts of our country.
Last but not the least, I wish to thank my family for their unwavering support.
I thank you.