Minister of Basic Education
Officials and Staff
It is a very special moment for me to join all of you in this 2nd District Directors’ meeting for 2019. I do so for the very first time as Deputy Minister of Basic Education.
Some of you may know that I am not new to the basic education sector. Despite my previous exposure and experience, the last few months of the 6th Administration I have had enough time for to re-orientate myself and get a sharper understanding the architecture of the basic education and the role that District Directors play in it.
It cannot be overemphasised that you’re the pulse of the sector. Therefore I take this opportunity to introduce myself and hopefully by the end of next 48 hours, we will get to know each other.
The Minister will take you through the priorities of the 6th Administration as it relates to our sector. However, the message we want to send out to all in the sector and beyond is that we are not about to tinker with the core policies in the sector. There won’t be any new curriculum except amendments occasioned by new knowledge and of course the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
With this cohort of district directors based on the performance of the sector in the last few years, I have no doubt in my mind that the basic education sector is in the safe hands.
As political principals with your help, we must intensify our efforts of improving the quality of teaching and the status of the teaching profession. At the same time, we shall spare neither strength nor courage in the continuous project of improving learner outcomes.
From the recent 25 Year Review of Basic Education it is clear that we have truly opened the doors of learning as enjoined by the Freedom Charter which turned 64 years this year.
Almost all indicators show an upward trajectory except reading for meaning. So, reading within the system and beyond remains the bugbear for all of us.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has said that our priority as a basic education sector must be to ensure that our learners learn to read for meaning by the time they turn 10 years old.
In our recent (2019) Basic Education Lekgotla, we also resolved amongst others to continue to strengthen the foundations of learning, particularly in the early grades.
We correctly said that Reading and Mathematics are to become our apex priorities.
In this regard last year, we launched the National Reading Coalition under the aegis of the NECT to turbocharge the reading revolution in our country.
In July this year, we received a briefing from the NECT CEO, Mr. Khosa with regard to the new comprehensive reading initiatives. At last all indications are that if we pull together we might in the long run dodge the bullet in the reading conundrum.
I must remind you that the NECT is the implementing agent in respect of reading through the National Reading Coalition that we launched last year.
Put simply, the NRC is about providing leadership, coordination and evidence based approaches to the pedagogues of reading.
The NRC will mobilise and provide support for and coordination of reading initiatives across class, gender and geographies.
In this regard, the National Reading Coalition has already managed to create an agile ecosystem of reading initiatives across the country.
In this ecosystem, we have the Value Chain Area, Initial Teacher Education, Continuing Teacher Professionalisation, Research, Policy and Access to Resources.
I am happy to report that in almost 95 percent of these focus areas, we already have a convenor as well as a champion.
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.
Books 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.
The National Reading Coalition has already districted over 4000 reading cards to encourage learners to read at home.
The Presidential Reading Circle to be personally led by President Ramaphosa is taking shape. This initiative is flagship project of the National Reading Coalition.
We will soon have a national reading plan that aligns and coordinates various reading initiatives that support the ‘Read to Lead’ campaign.
The success of the reading initiative depends in part in strong districts to play an oversight role. The NECT has correctly decided that at the core of the delivery
Programme Director, the year 2019 is an important one as it marks 25th anniversary for our freedom. In his State of the Nation Address, the President of the Republic, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa characterised this epoch as, the year when, “we will celebrate one of the greatest of human achievements.” President Ramaphosa said, “We will celebrate the triumph of freedom over subjugation, the triumph of democracy over racial tyranny, and the triumph of hope over despair.”
As Government, we must reflect on the achievements and challenges of the last 25 years as we prepare to hand-over to the sixth administration. In this regard, a comprehensive overview of the basic education sector over the 25 years of democracy will be handed over to the next administration.
Finally, I wish you well in your deliberations. It is my sincere hope that we all have yet another splendid academic year. Let’s #Grow South Africa, Together. I thank you.