Remarks by the Minister of Basic Education at the Women’s Day 2019 Celebrations, held at the Women’s Living Heritage Monument, Tshwane, 12 august 2019
Programme Director, Mrs Ntsiki Sisulu – Singapi
Dr P Watson
Mrs Amanda Blankfield-Koseff
Ms Maureen Keitumetse Modiba
Mrs Busisiwe Mkhumbuzi-Pooe
Ms Dululu Hlatshaneni
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great honour for me to address the 2019 Women’s Day Celebrations held here at the Women’s Living Heritage Monument, a historic place indeed where women are recognised and celebrated.
In our beautiful country 2019 is indeed an epic year. Our fledgling democracy has finally turned 25 years old. We are celebrating peace, non-racialism, non-sexism, democracy and prosperity.
The Women’s Charter turns 65 years old. The charter recorded unambiguously the aspirations of women; in part it called for: ‘Equal rights with men in relation to property, marriage and children, and for the removal of all laws and customs that deny women such equal rights.’
It is also the 63 years of the historic Women’s March. The 1956 historic Women's March, on Pretoria, struck a blow to the apartheid regime. Women sang: ‘Strijdom, you have tampered with the women, you have struck a rock.'
The 1956 historic women’s march mortally wounded the apartheid enemy.
In this epic year we also celebrate the 64rd anniversary of adoption of the Freedom Charter.
The Freedom Charter unequivocally stated: ‘Every man and woman shall have the right to vote for and to stand as a candidate for all bodies which make laws.’
Indeed, our new 1996 Constitution is predicated on the text of the Freedom Charter.
This very same progressive Constitution marks its 23rd anniversary this year. We can proudly say that today there is no legislative and/or institutionalised exclusion of women in South Africa but the struggle for total emancipation of women and girls is far from over.
We also celebrate the 29th anniversary of the late President Nelson Mandela release from 27 years of prison. Upon his release Madiba pledged to dedicate the remaining years of his life in the service of humanity.
It is six years since our beloved Madiba shuffled off this mortal coil.
Nonetheless, we can boldly say after 25 years since we defeated the apartheid regime, today we live in a constitutional democracy.
Our Government derives its mandate from the people. Every five years we hold peaceful general elections.
After the recent peaceful, free and fair provincial and national elections, we constituted the 6th Administration to take our country to the Promised Land.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has given all of us seven priorities to focus on so that we can get our economy can start firing again.
These priorities includes namely economic transformation and jobs; education, skills revolution and health; social wage, spatial development, human settlements and local government; social cohesion and safe communities, a better Africa and world and a capable developmental state and social compact.
Programme Director for us to reach our lofty ideal of realising a world class basic education system in our lifetime, the sixth administration has decided to do only smart moves.
Of course, the President in his State of the Nation urged all of us to focus on implementation. ‘Now is the time to focus on implementation,’ he told the nation.
Therefore, I am of a firm view that there’s no need to overhaul the entire architecture of the basic education system.
Instead, our focus is on the re-engineering of the sector to cement the narrative of a system on the rise.
It is all about being faster (Kwauleza Phase), smarter (Digital Innovation) to be built into the service delivery ecosystem for better quality and best value in our basic education sector.
As you know, we also take our line of march from the President’s two recent SONAs.
In this regard, we have identified eleven focus areas as strategic levers for the 2019 to 2024 Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).
The eleven strategic areas we have identified for the 2019 MTSF are:
Priority 1: Improving the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially ‘Reading for meaning.’
We have developed a National Reading Framework which maps out differentiated approaches on how to teach reading in African languages.
The Framework also provide guidelines for the development of quality reading materials, and teacher development programmes.
We will develop and adopt a National Reading Plan for primary schools using evidence as a reporting tool for interventions by end of 2019. We will encourage schools, parents and communities in the target areas to actively participate in the reading movement to establish a reading culture.
We will actively establish partnerships and raise funds to support the reading movement. Reading norms will be deepened to strengthen existing curriculum delivery, building on the DBE norms already in use in different African languages.
In addition, to track progress in the Basic Education Sector, the DBE will finalise a draft report on education progress, using the Household Survey data, by the end of August 2019
Priority 2: Immediate implementation of a curriculum focussing on skills and competencies for a changing world. It must take into account the disruption brought by the 4th Industrial Revolution as well as the introduction of Entrepreneurship, and schools of specialisation or focus schools.
We have begun the process of transforming our curriculum by introducing new and exciting subjects such as Aviation Studies, Maritime and Coding and Robotics.
Our plan is to introduce 10 types of Focus Schools incrementally throughout the country in the Medium to Long Term to offer these new subjects and other skills based subjects.
We will establish Hi-Tech (IT, Coding and Robotics Schools), Arts, Maths and Science, BCM, Aviation, Maritime, Engineering (Technical High Schools), Hospitality & Tourism, Schools of Skills and Commercial Schools.
Priority 3: Collaborate with the Department of Higher Education and Training to equip teachers with skills and knowledge to teach literacy and numeracy.
We are already working with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology in revising the, ‘The Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (MRTEQ)’, in line with new global trends. The grand idea is to enhance the quality and efficiency of the Initial Teacher Education programmes.
We are also building capacity for Mathematics Teachers in the Foundation Phase (FP). Our approach is to put them through a year- long course at the universities.
However, we have a funding crunch. Our partner in this programme, the European Union which is the only funder.
The current projection is that the current training budget will only benefit 200 Foundation Phase Advisors in two districts in one province at a cost of R8 million.
Priority 4: Dealing decisively with the quality and efficiency through the implementation of standardised assessments to reduce failure, repetition, and drop-out rates. We are also working on the introduction of multiple qualifications such as the General Education Certificate before the Grade 12 exit qualification.
The NDP aims for a “World Class Assessment System” involving “reliable measures of learning for every primary school”.
We plan to launch a Systemic Evaluation to be conducted at strategic grades by finalising preparations, and technical standards for the administration of systemic evaluation to enable high level national and provincial monitoring.
The first cycle of Systemic Evaluation in Grades 3, 6 and 9 will be finalised by June 2020.
The Field Trial for the General Education Certificate (GEC) at the end of Grade 9 is scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020.
A draft framework for the GEC has been developed. Assessment and examination modalities for the GEC are being investigated and have been presented at the HEDCOM meeting.
The Technical Occupational subjects have been packaged and submitted to Umalusi for approval.
Priority 5: Eliminate the digital divide by ensuring that within six years, all schools and education offices have access to internet and free data.
By the end of 2019, we will complete and digitise CAT and IT Grade 10 -12 state-owned textbooks (high enrolment subject), assess 10% of the Special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment, assess a further 10% of the Special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment, and provide 100 schools with e-Library solution, by the end of August 2019.
From 2021 onwards, we are looking forward to gradually increase from 34 available titles of the number of workbooks in interactive format.
It is envisaged that making availability of the workbooks in the interactive format will have cost saving in printing and distribution as the interactive workbooks will be available on gadgets as part of learning and teaching materials.
Priority 6: Urgent implementation of the two-years of ECD before Grade 1; and the systematic relocation of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the DBE.
I am happy to report that work has started to ensure a smooth function shift. We have already established and deployed various work streams to drive the process.
These work streams will focus on creating an agile ecosystem for a much improved ECD sector. The work streams will look at the existing legislative framework, norms and standards, an ideal ECD sector (definition), policy, funding, collaboration and other relevant matters.
In this regard, we remain committed to rolling-out a high quality childhood learning programme through offering two years of a universal and compulsory Early Childhood Development.
We will do this once the policy terrain has been clearly understood, and new legislative amendments finalised.
Priority 7: Decolonisation of basic education through the teaching and promotion of African languages, South African and African History and national symbols to all learners up to Grade 12;
The reappointed Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on History has commenced the writing of a revised History curriculum based on the report developed by the MTT.
The writing process will involve the call for public comments and inputs as soon as they are finished with the draft document.
The team will also go on public roadshows in all the nine provinces in order to get public inputs and participation. This step will be followed by the writing of new textbooks for History in Grades 4-12 that are in-line with the new curriculum.
To prepare the system for the introduction of the new curriculum, there will have to be rigorous teacher training to prepare the system for the introduction of new the History curriculum.
The introduction of compulsory History will be done phase by phase from Grade 10 until 12.
Priority 8: Cooperate with the South African Police Services and the Departments of Health, as well as Sport, Arts and Culture, to teach and promote school safety, health and social cohesion;
A conducive learning environment is a necessary pre-requisite to achieving quality education.
Given some of the pressing and spiralling social ills in our society, it has become increasingly critical for us to double our efforts in providing psychosocial support services in the sector.
By the end of 2019, we will finalise training and materials including the Guide for Schools on Providing Psychosocial Support to Learners to improve standards of practice on psychosocial support at school level.
Health and Safety in schools:
By the end of 2019, the DBE will support the provision of school health services to 200 000 learners in Grade R, 1, 4, 8 and 10 including HPV in Grade 5. The DBE will print and distribute 571 752 Educator Guides and Learner Books on Sexuality Education Scripted Lesson Plans for Grades 4 -6 and 10 – 12 in 537 primary and 435 secondary schools, respectively.
The DBE will host a workshop on the Restorative Conferencing and Physical Assault Response jointly with School Safety towards violence prevention to improve competence of violence prevention in the sector.
Priority 9: Complete an integrated Infrastructure Development Plan, informed by Infrastructure delivery and regular maintenance, which is resourced.
The provision and maintenance of infrastructure remains one of our key priorities as a sector.
In order to improve the delivery of infrastructure, we will be revisiting the delivery model for infrastructure projects in order to save on the cost of providing education infrastructure, and to improve contract management processes with our implementing agents and/service providers.
We will also be researching on alternative funding modalities for provision of infrastructure to augment existing funds as well as ramping up our maintenance programme.
Priority 10: Increase the safety-net through pro-poor policies to cover learners who are deserving in programmes, such as ECD and Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN).
Our flagship pro-poor intervention, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) continues to make a tangible difference in the lives of our children.
Daily cooked nutritious meals are provided to over 9, 6 million learners in approximately 21 274 public primary, secondary and special schools.
As a key driver in stimulating the local economy, the NSNP provides business opportunities to 4035 enterprises, the majority of which are Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs).
Furthermore, 61 471 volunteer food handlers are engaged.
We intend to improve their training in food preparation, hygiene and food safety, and work towards the accreditation of this training. We will do this through colleges, so that it provides a first step towards skills building, entrepreneurship and formal qualification.
Priority 11: Strengthen partnership with all stakeholders, private sector, and promote integrated governance, intergovernmental relations, and labour peace.
By the end of 2019 all our International and National partners will be guided by our focus on improving learner outcomes, especially in the Foundation Phase.
Programme Director, our raison d'être as the sector remains the (in) ability of our learners to read for meaning at the appropriate age.
All our learners must be able to read for meaning by their tenth birthday as His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced in his June, 2019 State of the Nation (SONA) address in this House.
In recognizing the serious nature of our learners’ inability to read for meaning, and dismal reading culture in the country, together with the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT), we launched the National Reading Coalition (NRC) early this year.
The National Reading Coalition only task is to turbocharge the reading revolution in our country within the basic education sector and in society.
In a short space of time, the National Reading Coalition has managed to create an agile ecosystem of reading initiatives across the country.
In this ecosystem, we have the special focus on Initial Teacher Education, Continuing Teacher Professionalisation, Research, Policy and Access to Resources.
So far the National Reading Coalition has conducted a landscape study of reading initiatives, and an audit of resources that schools have in 25 percent of circuits (263) in Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. We have a total of 889 circuits in the country.
Book clubs have been established in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West involving some 230 principals and circuit managers.
In collaboration with the trade union SADTU, the National Reading Coalition has hosted a Book Drive that has so far yielded over 1116 books meant for teachers.
Reading advocacy posters have been developed for all provinces. Over 4000 reading cards to encourage learners to read at home have been distributed.
The Presidential Reading Circle that is to be personally led by His Excellency President Ramaphosa is taking shape. This initiative is flagship project of the National Reading Coalition and Basic Education Department.
We will soon have a national reading plan that aligns and coordinates various reading initiatives that support the ‘Read to Lead’ campaign.
In conclusion, let me also take this opportunity to once more appreciate the efforts that you at your different capacities are making in ensuring that the sector performs better.
We acknowledge and applaud the good work of many partners within the space of basic education that continue to make positive contribution. It is indeed true when we say education is a societal issue.
I thank you