Senior Managers from both Provincial Education Departments and the national Department of Basic Education
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me immense pleasure to address this Districts Education Forum. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to see all of you here today.
When I mooted the idea of a Summit at our last meeting in August I half expected that – given the time of year and its pressures – you would only manage to pull it off in 2020.
I am immensely grateful that you understood the sense of urgency in my voice and decided to work with me and plan to ensure that this Sixth Administration continues to accelerate progress in our sector.
Today is a special occasion to focus on strategies that will propel all our districts into becoming hubs of excellence. We have to take stock of systems that work, new ideas and consolidate our plans for the future.
There’s no need throw the baby out with the bathwater. We began the journey of using districts as delivery sites a few years back.
Therefore there is no need to reinvent the wheel. When we started our focus on districts, to use the famous phrase by the Education MEC for Gauteng ‘we performed an aircraft engine change mid-air.’ Through sheer focus and determination, results are beginning to show that we have had a soft landing.
To prepare for take-off in this sixth administration, it is important that we perform a thorough surgical removal of all strategies that didn’t work in the last five years. Our job as education managers is to learn, firstly from the ground, new knowledge, emerging technologies and crystalize all these into innovation strategies for the future.
South Africans deserve that much.
I have no doubt in my mind that with this cohort of districts directors, the surgical removal operation will be smooth and the patient will be released by the time we conclude this summit.
This summit takes place just as President Cyril Ramaphosa has launched the Presidential District Coordination Service Delivery Model to address the way government delivers services to our people.
In his Budget Vote the President observed that there’s a, ‘pattern of operating in silos in’ in government. He said this is a challenge which led to ‘lack of coherence in planning and implementation and has made monitoring and oversight of government’s programme difficult.’
The new district-based coordination model aims to address service delivery and economic development challenges through the synchronisation of planning across all spheres of government, working alongside social partners such as business and community.
Of course I was tempted to boast and say, Mr. President, we have been doing it for years. I am therefore happy that as basic education sector, we are considered as trendsetters in matters of service delivery model. We should indeed give ourselves a pat on the back.
The President’s drive towards integrated service delivery finds real resonance with me as I have witnessed the power of district delivery model.
The President talks of forty-four (44) districts and eight (8) metros. In Education we have a total of seventy-five districts but remember – our districts are still aligned to Municipal Boundaries. What we did however was to subdivide the big Municipalities so we can better deliver educational services. All these should however be operating within single Municipal Boundaries for us to be part of the new energy brought about by the new administration.
In the new Presidential District Based service delivery, we must as a sector ensure that all spheres of government take into cognisance the existence of our school infrastructure within these districts.
This is so that service delivery to our schools such as water, sanitation and electricity are part of the master plan.
Our schools belong to the communities and dot the landscape in all our districts and metros. Thus it makes sense to work in tandem with other spheres of government to deliver optimal service delivery.
As a sector we must double efforts in the era of hope, progress and policy certainty. We carry in our shoulders dreams and aspirations of millions of our people.
We must ensure that their dreams are fulfilled not turned into a nightmare.
Our ‘new dawn’ must find expression in all our service delivery sites so that it doesn’t become a, ‘false dawn.’
This Summit is therefore very important for all of us. As you are gathered here you possess powerful knowledge about what obtains in our schools – with our teachers, learners as well as with school managers and governors.
Just recently we concluded the ‘Basic Education Sector 25 Year Review’ and it’s clear that we have made solid gains. Although challenges abound, we are certainly, ‘a system on the rise.’
I am pleased to note that in your “Action Hubs” you intend to be reflective as well as strategic. It is indeed important to understand where we are in all these important areas of the Curriculum, Quality Teachers, Learner Support, District and School Management as well as School Safety.
As I said earlier, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Let us use lessons from the ground to launch with vigour new strategies into the future.
Intrinsic in the President’s integrated delivery model is to be clear on what will be delivered, time frames and reporting regularly. The reports will take a District Approach.
We are now moving swiftly beyond the ‘Thuma Mina’ war cry because if you didn’t want to be sent you wouldn’t be here. Now is time for Khawuleza.
This is now the era of Khawuleza! Akusheshwe! The people of South Africa cannot afford to wait any longer. From us they want Quality Education for All. Now.
Despite the fact that the system is finally responding positively to unrelenting focus on improvements and efficiencies, don’t lose heart as our critics will continue to bombard society with the moniker, ‘crisis in education.’
Research shows that generally people are ‘useless’ at distinguishing slow progress versus crisis especially in large systems like ours. It is believed that people sometimes judge the past disproportionately more positively than they judge the present what psychologists call ‘rosy retrospection.’
Ours therefore is to stay focused – genuinely reflect on our work and see both the strides made and acknowledge any challenges. But we must also never tire of letting people know of our achievements. South Africans are desperate for news that will give them hope, and engender confidence in the ability of Government to respond to their needs.
The Presidency has indicated some new focus areas - in addition to our SONA priorities. These focus areas include:
- School connectivity, Infrastructure with a particular emphasis on the SAFE Initiative, No fee schools, School Nutrition, Scholar Transport, HIV/Aids, Alcoholism/substance abuse and Bullying
We are required to report on these new focus areas every quarter. As we all know these are key drivers in the tired narrative of, ‘crisis in education.’
These are the some of the new focus areas apart from our priorities that must find expression in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The new rule is that we have to plan for outcomes – not just inputs and outputs!
As Minister of Basic Education, I know that the gains we have made are as a result of collective action. I have no fear in my heart. I know that I lead an A-team in basic education!
We must disabuse ourselves of the notion that this work is about us and our precious legacies. Only posterity will make that call.
Our task is to work with without ceasing. We must deploy our skills, do our jobs with the necessary energy, zeal and vigour. Success is inevitable.
At the heart of our endeavours must be to make a positive difference in the lives of our people. One learner at a time. One generation at a time.
I wish you well in your deliberations. I can see that the teams we have been sending to conferences abroad are definitely learning something exciting. I can see evidence of lessons learnt from outside our boarders in the packaging of this summit. Long may these study trips continue to bear fruits!
I thank you.