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Speech by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, delivered at the 9th SADTU National Congress held at Nasrec, Johannesburg, 26 September 2019

SADTU President Cde Magope Maphila

SADTU Deputy President: Mabutho Cele

SADTU General Secretary: Cde Mugwena Maluleke

Leadership Collective of SADTU

Tripartite Alliance Leadership

Members of SADTU

Comrades and Compatriots,

I am indeed fortunate and highly favoured that today, 29 years since this revolutionary union was founded, I address you in the land of your birth, Nasrec, Johannesburg.  Revolutionary greetings to the leadership, members of SADTU and Alliance at large.  

Comrade Chairperson, 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 children are on the rise. Needless to say that even the depth of violence that accompanies this depravity is sickening. We must agree that something must give because the horse has truly bolted.

The scourge of gender based violence is an affront to our common humanity. It threatens to eclipse all our attempts to restore key state institutions following years of state capture and malfeasance.  

We, as women and by extension the whole country are facing a tragedy of the Shakespearean proportions.  It is time for the State to restore and impose its authority. It is time for men to take a stand. Don't Blend in Stand Out!

Today, I am making a clarion call to all men to desist from harming, raping and killing women and girl children.

Comrade Chairperson, SADTU celebrates its 29th anniversary in October this year. As we know SADTU is a product of the liberation struggle. This historical event has been described by teachers as, ‘the day of victory.’  

Former President of the Republic, Comrade Nelson Mandela described SADTU on the day of its birth as, ‘a beacon of hope.’

Comrade Mandela challenged teachers to instil democracy in the classroom and develop learners. ‘It is your duty to also be democratic in the classroom,’ he said.

Fast forward to 29 years later, we have to ask, is SADTU ready for the 4th Industrial Revolution? Do your members understand that the triple ‘Rs’ of learning are now obsolete? Out with the old, welcome to the 4Cs of learning, i.e. communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity!

Comrade Chairperson, I am happy to announce that as a sector we are ready for the skills of the future as part of the disruptive 4th Industrial Revolution.

We have developed the Grade R – 3 Coding and Robotics curriculum and the development of Grade 4 – 7 curriculum is at an advanced stage. We will be trialling this curriculum starting January 2020 in Grade R-3 and Grade 7. Our teachers are being trained in computer skills including new teaching areas such as Robotics and Coding amongst others.

Comrade Chairperson, I say today, do not fear the road ahead, for we shall walk together, side by side, as we march as one to victory.

I am happy to report that since the advent of democracy in 1994, we have travelled the road of transformation together. Nobody can stop us today. Aint No Stopping Us Now! As they say in America.

As a revolutionary union, you have bargained robustly, and lobbied for your policy proposals fiercely. Today, I can say all your sheer hard work and grit have not been in vain.

According to the, ‘25 Year Review of Progress in the Basic Education Sector,’ it emerges that this ANC led Government has over the last 25 years delivered on the Freedom Charter’s clarion call, ‘to open the doors of learning for all.’

Comrade Chairperson, please allow me to give you a truncated takeaways from the, ‘25 Review’ which include matters relating to access, equity, quality, and funding.

Today, funding for basic education is equal across race, colour or creed and gender. Let me remind this Congress that the apartheid regime fore-instance, in 1975/76, spent R644 annually on each white pupil, R189 per Indian pupil, R139 on a coloured pupil, and only R42 on an African pupil.

On average our spending per learner has reached just over R16 000 by 2017, a substantial increase from a meagre of R2 222 spent in 1994. In real terms this means our spending per learner is currently hovering around 60% higher, after taking into account inflation, than it was in 1994. 

At the same time, just over 9 million children in this country receive free basic education, that’s about 80 percent of our schools where parents aren’t required to pay.

Equally, some 9, 6 million learners in approximately 21 274 quintile 1–3 spread across primary, secondary and special schools receive a nutritious meal every school day as part of our efforts to mitigate against poverty and hunger.

As a result of this substantial investment in our people, by 2017, approximately 99% of 7 to 15 year-olds were attending educational institutions, up from about 96% in 2002. 

Amongst 16 to 18 year-olds the participation rate is about 86%, indicating that it is within this age range that school dropout begins to occur but numbers have been stabilising in recent years. Primary school completion has increased from about 85% in 2002 to about 95% in 2017. A remarkable feat indeed.

We are paying attention to the secondary school completion rate that has marginally increased from about 40% to just over 50 percent in recent years.

One important achievement in recent years is that fewer children are entering school late. Statistics show that the percentage of 7 year-olds surveyed in the General Household Survey who have already completed Grade 1 has increased from about 35% in 2002 to about 64% in 2017.

The star performer that is likely to improve educational outcomes is that by 2018, we had over 2.4 million children accessing early childhood education in our country. 

Comrade Chairperson, the function shift of the ECD responsibility from the Social Development to us is progressing well. I have met with the Minister of Social Development.

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. Work streams attending to a range of issues have been instituted.

In this current term of office the process will be completed, and we will offer two years of compulsory early childhood schooling as directed by the President. 

Comrade Chairperson, at the tail end of schooling, the matric pass rate has also climbed substantially over the past 24 years from a low base of 53.4% in 1994 to the high of 78.2% in 2018.

By 2016, around 58% of the youth were successfully obtaining the National Senior Certificate or an equivalent qualification from a college. In absolute numbers, this means the number of people completing matric has increased from around 275 000 in the late 1900s to over 400 000 in recent years.

In particular, whilst the number of matrics grew by around 50% over the period under consideration, ‘Bachelors-level’ passes grew by around 100 percent.

Comrade Chairperson, we have greatly improved the quality of our teachers. In 1994, only 54 percent of the African teachers were qualified, but today out of over 410 000 teachers, only a statistically insignificant number is still completing their qualifications.

In fact by 2017 the number was less than 5000 including the underqualified teacher cohort.

Interestingly, Comrade Chairperson, nationally, the supply of newly qualified teachers had almost tripled over the five years to 2017, growing from 5939 in 2008 to 25 877 in 2017.

This is of course as a result of growing our own timber through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme. Some optimistic experts now expect South Africa to have a surplus of 81 725 teachers by 2020.

A further thirteen thousand Funza Lushaka bursaries have been awarded to student teachers, this year alone. Despite this success, we have no desire to take our foot off the accelerator.

Comrade Chairperson, we will intensify our efforts of improving the quality of teaching and the status of the teaching profession. 

We will continue to empower and equip our teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world, as well as focus on foundational skills such as teaching literacy and Mathematics.

In this regard, we are implementing the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning.  Since Framework was adopted, we have set up Provincial Core Training Teams in six of the nine provinces.

The rest of the provinces are to be covered in this financial year. These training teams are responsible for the roll-out in their provinces, and are also provided with resources to distribute to all teachers.

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. The full implementation of the framework will commence in the new financial year.

Working with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the NECT, we are pursuing ways to ensure a balanced approach to the teaching of numeracy and mathematics as evident in the Department’s recently developed Framework for Teaching Mathematics with Understanding.

The latter is being implemented in 41 schools in three provinces benefiting 14543 foundation phase learners in five African languages offered as LoLT (IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, Sepedi, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga).

Comrade Chairperson, we are also collaborating 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 universities.

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.

Comrade Chairperson, the emerging narrative of a basic education system that is on the rise has also found traction internationally.

Progress in the sector has also been confirmed by the recent cycles of regional and international assessment studies of which I won’t go into details.

Comrade Chairperson for us to reach our lofty ideal of realising a world class basic education system in our lifetime, the 6th Democratic Administration has decided to do only smart moves. 

Of course, the President in his June State of the Nation urged all of us to focus on implementation. ‘Now is the time to focus on implementation,’ he told the nation.

Hence the zeitgeist of the basic education in this new (current) term of office is to focus on implementation, and heightened levels of service delivery and accountability. Therefore, we have convened the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) in July, and resolved henceforth that there’s no need to overhaul the entire architecture of the basic education system.

We are not about to introduce a new curriculum. But, as you all know any curriculum worth the paper it is written on remains a dynamic document, meaning only amendments occasioned by the new developments will be considered. 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.

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, we will finalise a draft report on education progress, using the Household Survey data, anytime this year.

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 strengthening 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 subjects). 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, before the end of this year.

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 function shift of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the DBE.

As I said earlier, we remain committed to rolling-out a high quality childhood learning programme through offering two years of a universal and compulsory Early Childhood Development.

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. 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, we 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. 

We 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. 

We 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).

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. 

In conclusion, we are ready to take the bull by the horns. We count on you to continue being a reliable ally in the education of South Africa’s children, our true and undisputed national asset. 

I thank you.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 9/26/2019
Number of Views: 6816

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