It is a great honour and a privilege to welcome all MECs, HoDs and senior education managers who have made it their business to part of this crucial basic education sector meeting.
We are the highest decision making body in the sector. In our shoulders, we carry the dreams and hopes of our nation’s future.
Our contribution to the nation’s cause of renewal and new dawn will be felt by generations to come.
Equally, should we put one foot wrong, the impact will be felt by generations to come.
Therefore, when we deliberate and make decisions, we must bear in mind that it has nothing to do with us – our comforts, ideologues and preferences. We must do right by the people of South Africa.
We meet here amid a national crisis as the nation is gripped by a great feeling of unease as cases of murder and rape of women and girl invade our living rooms every day via television, newspapers and social media.
There’s a siege mentality amongst women and girl children of all races, class and ideological persuasions.
The extent of violence, rape and murders against women and girl children aren’t necessary rising but the intensity and depth of depravity displayed by perpetrators of this abhorrent crimes is truly sickening.
There’s an outright war against the fairer sex in our society. It’s a war of attrition against the soul of a nation.
These crimes that are exclusively perpetrated against women by men threatens the fragile peace and progress of the post-apartheid democratic enterprise.
Something is wrong in the psyche of the South Africa men who show total disdain for the right of women and girl children to life and well-being.
Most of these men look like my son, my uncle and/or your husband. We can’t tell in advance that these men are broken to the core.
Just this week, a father, I even doubt if he qualifies to be called a father, killed four children (three were his and fourth a step daughter) because their mother had asked for a divorce.
On Monday, a young white male admitted to raping a seven year old girl child. What on earth will drive a man to sexually assault anybody let alone a seven year old girl child?
Our men are sick. Our brothers are broken. Our sons are learning toxic masculinity from the society of haunted souls, their fathers and uncles.
We are a nation at war with its women and girl children. Women and girl children not safe anywhere – homes, streets and now add the Post Office. We are now the vanquished in our own country, a place we call home.
Something has got to give.
As a result women are beginning to ask #AmINext?
Sadly, both the rapists and murderers are as South African as you and me.
We must work with all like-minded members of our society to banish the shame and remake our society as an oasis of tolerance, human rights and freedom.
As the basic education sector, we share the mandate to drive the social cohesion programmes with the Department of Arts and Culture.
We have no less than 12 million learners in our schools. These learners and teachers could be turned into an army for good neighbourliness.
Using our schools as centres of tolerance and respect, we must therefore do our part in raising awareness, and changing the narrative through deliberate measures to save our girl children and women from the relentless onslaught.
Our focus must be on the boy child.
In this meeting, we are going to reflect on the National Plan on Social Cohesion, Health and School Safety. This is the nub of our intervention – educate, educate and educate.
We must launch a national campaign to talk the language of human rights and responsibilities to the boy child.
Perhaps we can no longer save the over 20 year old males, but we can still have an impact on those boy children who are still school-going.
At the same time the country is reeling from what appears to be a well-coordinated campaign of criminality and sporadic protests ostensibly to chase away illegal foreign nationals out of the country.
At the last count, this latest round of violence and criminality have left 12 people dead.
The Defence Minister told the nation a day ago that ten of the 12 people who were killed over the last week in unrest and violence ostensibly aimed at undocumented foreign nationals in Gauteng were South Africans.
At least two motor dealerships owned by South Africans were razed to the ground.
A countless number of shops rented by foreign nationals were also targeted and burnt.
All these killings, and burnings are accompanied by wide scale looting and stealing of goods.
As we know our schools accommodates all children irrespective of the citizenship status of their parents. When these sporadic attacks intensifies, our schools cannot function in those communities.
Once there’s some sense of normality, our schools resume, but children of foreign nationals don’t come back because they have been displaced or accommodated in temporal structures away from the community they know.
So yes, we are faced with two pressure points, gender based violence and criminality disguised as xenophobia.
As a sector, we must ramp out our national response on these two boiling pots. In the meantime, we send our sincere condolences to all families affected by these senseless killing orgy.
Chairperson, this meeting takes place amid the last-ditch effort to complete the curriculum coverage ahead of the final year-end examinations.
Our team of officials led by the DG have visited all provinces to check on the state of readiness for the National Senior Certificate examination in particular and School-Based-Assessments in general.
I am glad to report that it’s all systems go for the 2019 Final Examination.
We will get a full Report on System Readiness for the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination later in this meeting.
There’s a glimmer of hope in our reading revolution. Finally, we have a reworked National Plan on Reading.
As I have said before reading shall permeate everything we do as a sector. The new national reading plan is comprehensive but doable.
However, it success hinges on all hands on deck approach – our teachers, school management teams, districts, circuits, communities, publishers, service providers and NGOs amongst others.
I hope our communications team is here because the key to getting society to support this plan is advocacy and a focussed communications plan.
In conclusion as a sector we are gearing ourselves for the return of national assessments. Today we will receive and deliberate on the National Plan on Assessment and Accountability in the sector.
I still believe in the old adage, teach and test except that we are no longer testing to teach but testing what we teach.
Our team of experts have applied their minds, researched and consulted widely on these assessments plans. Let’s have an open mind and steam ahead with the new version of ANAs.