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Address Delivered by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, at the Minister’s Meeting with District Directors, DBE Conference Centre in Pretoria, 05 December 2019

Programme Director

Deputy Minister

Director-General

DDGs

District Directors

Chief Directors

Officials and Staff

Welcome to the last engagement for the year 2019 of the District Directors’ meeting with the political leadership.  

Despite the transition, we still managed to have these quarterly meetings as planned. 

It has been a busy period as we marked a peaceful passage from the fifth administration to the current one.

This period of transition offered us an opportunity to have a relook at the strategic thrust of the basic education sector.

I am glad to say that after candid conversations with all key personnel in the sector, we agreed on common vision to move the sector forward.

Standing here today, I am confident to say we have found each other. Knowing what I know now, I am certain that we are on the right path.

I know that we have had more strategic planning sessions this year as part of the transition. I hope we don’t suffer from analysis paralysis.

Just know that it was important for the political leadership to have a sustained engagements with the education managers so that we both understand the new priorities of the sixth administration.

Despite the numerous strategic sessions, we are ending this year on a positive note. We are pleased that the 2019 National Senior Certificate examinations have been concluded successfully. No leaks. Nil.

The design, management and execution of the National Senior Certificate examinations remains the pride and joy of this Government.

In fact, in the last five years, we had only one regrettable but localised incidents of cheating that we nipped in the bud.

Interestingly, it was our own heightened sense of duty and agile security systems that picked up this problem very early.

Today, I pay tribute to thousands of our teachers who are part of this remarkable government designed NSC examinations ecosystem.

Over the years, all our teachers and officials have always covered themselves in glory. Your country appreciates your exploits. We are proud of you all.

As you can appreciate, the NSC Examinations are high stakes national assessments.

According to pundits the matric certificate, our only exit qualification from the basic education system, after 12 years of teaching and learning has intrinsic value for both individuals and society.

Foreinstance, research indicates that the labour market values the matric certificate, and this positive attitude has remained the same in the post-apartheid era.  

Researchers say that the premium to matriculation in terms of earnings and the probability of finding a job has also remained positive.  

Clearly there are economic returns to passing matric, particularly because doing so provides access to further education and training which drastically improves one’s labour market prospects.

Researchers insist the worsening labour market outcomes of matriculants should not be confused with a negative valuation of the matriculation certificate relative to fewer years of education. 

On our side, the NSC exams prepare learners for the world beyond secondary schooling.

It is indeed gratifying that the 2019 National Senior Certificate examinations went fairly smooth, with only a few, manageable incidents across our examination centres.

A total of 790 405 candidates sat for these exams. Some 147 question papers were written in 7 416 examination centres nationwide.

A further 212 learners wrote at correctional service facilities.

The examination progressed well until the final day, except for a few hiccups.

This included load-shedding experienced on the first day of the examination, and service-delivery protests in the North-West which led to the relocation of learners to other examination centres.

Learners who were affected by load-shedding during the Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and Information Technology Practical examinations wrote their papers last Friday, 29th of November 2019.

Marking commenced last week in some provinces and would shift into higher gear across all provinces in some 142 marking centres.

We expect to conclude the marking process by the 14th of December.

We will announce the national results of the 2019 NSC on 7th of January 2020. Individual results will be available at schools on 8th January 2020.

Reports indicate that adequate support was made available to Grade 12 pupils including progressed learners.

However, we must not lose focus on improving learner performance at the General Education and Training (GET) Band.

Programme Director; you may recall that one of the objectives of our last summit in Durban was to identify the challenges that are compromising the quality of education.

We committed ourselves to bring about the changes ‘without re-inventing the wheel.’

We are reaffirmed your role in ensuring that districts are well-managed, and instructional leadership is promoted at all levels.

The underlying objective should always be about working towards improvement in learner outcomes, year after year. 

Obviously this requires an enabling environment that nurtures academic rigour.

I cannot overemphasis that all schools under your jurisdiction should have school safety plans. All underperforming schools must be identified, and improvements plan put into place.  

In the year 2020, we shouldn’t be talking about dysfunctional schools.

Just last week, I had a pleasure of launching our National Reading Plan at the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) convened gathering.

As we all know, reading for meaning amongst our learners remains our Achilles heel.

Our new Reworked National Reading Plan is an overarching evidence based strategy that will alter the entire reading landscape in the country.

It compliments rather than replaces all existing reading initiatives including the ‘Read to Lead’ Campaign.

The main thrust of this comprehensive reading plan is to ensure reading for meaning across curriculum, in all grades, and in all schools throughout the country. 

Our plan is to ensure that we teach all our learners to read well, and most importantly to read for meaning. 

By 2024, the plan would have been successfully implemented throughout the system.

I mean wall-to-wall coverage, circuit by circuit, district by district, and school by school.

You, as this cohort of education managers are a vital cog in the reading ecosystem. You’re expected to acquaint yourself with the plan and run with the implementation thereof, circuit by circuit, school by school. 

Programme Director, we have resolved that public advocacy and communication must begin with our managers and staff.

There are two matters that have got our detractors hot under the collar.

The first one is the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). We must refuse to be bullied, and misrepresented by certain interest groups pushing their own nefarious agendas.

As the Department of Basic Education, we have a moral obligation to help the girl child in particular and all our learners to engage honestly and openly about all matters, sexuality.

The Comprehensive Sexuality Education has been part of the curriculum since the year 2000.

The aim of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education and, is to ensure that we help learners to build an understanding of concepts, content, values and attitudes related to sexuality.

We must reiterate that there is no new content that has been added to the Life Orientation subject in schools as reported during the media frenzy in recent times.

The only recent intervention has been the development and deployment of Scripted Lesson Plans to strengthen the delivery of the Life Orientation curriculum especially around sexuality.

The Comprehensive Sexuality Education curriculum also addresses the issue of sexual behaviour change as well as strategies on leading safe and healthy lives.

We do not teach our learners about sex. We do not run sex education.

The Scripted Lesson Plans provide age appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education.

These lessons do not sexualise our children.

The Lesson Plans touch on child abuse prevention measures that builds resilience, confidence and assertion amongst young people, who often do not know when they are being violated by sexual predators.

We reject with contempt it deserves the notion that Comprehensive Sexuality Education sexualises our children.

We are unmoved by critics of comprehensive sexuality education as all our actions are based on solid academic research.

The second issue that has had tongues wagging, is the mooted grade 9 certificate.

The whole brouhaha that we are about to introduce a grade 9 exit certificate before matric is nothing but, to quote Shakespeare, ‘a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’.

The key purpose of the GEC is to offer learners an accurate and reliable indicator of their academic progress at the end of the compulsory school-going phase of basic education, and to award learners with a national certificate for their efforts.

The proposed GEC is a level 1 qualification on the SA National Qualifications Framework.

It is a transitional qualification rather than an exit qualification.

In simple language, it marks the end of the compulsory school-going phase, grade 9, with a nationally recognised qualification after having passed a standardised national assessment.

Inherently, it will offer a standardised benchmark against which schools can compare their internal assessment standards.

It also speaks to government policy as expressed in various position papers since 1995 - that the system must ‘provide for an increasing range of learning possibilities, offering learners greater flexibility in choosing what, where, when, how and at what pace they learn’.

As we know, grade 9 is also a phase wherein learners choose further education streams.

Thus, this certificate will be used as a barometer to assist learners to choose their future learning pathways that are available in the system, such as academic, technical vocational and technical occupational.

It will be recognised by all public technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.

One of the advantages of the GEC is that it could provide valuable national data to gauge the performance of our basic education system before the high-stakes grade 12 examinations.

The GEC also seeks to address the high dropout rate before grade 12.

These learners exit the system without having written a national standardised examination, and with no evidence of nine years of learning.

As a result they cannot pursue other avenues of learning and training such as in the TVET colleges.

No learner will be asked to exit schooling at grade 9. That is not this government's policy. We are creating a nation of lifelong learners.

In conclusion, I must admit that we have had a good show. We are certain of registering progress against our set objectives.

Our gains over the recent past are irreversible. 

I am confident to say that basic education in this country is a system on rise.

We have entered our own season of hope, though challenges abound. It is incumbent upon this collective to take the sector to the next level.

I would like to conclude by wishing you all a restful period with your families and loved ones as 2019 nears to an end.

Drive Dry. Do not Text and Drive. Arrive Alive!

We are looking forward to the New Year, 2020. Just remember, hope is not a strategy.

Instead, we must work hard, and accelerate the implementation of our strategic plans.

We have no choice but to register progress in all our 11 priorities.

Our people expect no less. Our children deserve that much.

Thank you. Ke a leboga.

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Written By: DBE Webmaster
Date Posted: 12/5/2019
Number of Views: 834

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