Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Dr. Makgabo Reginah Mhaule,
MECs for Education from all our nine provinces,
Leaders of teacher unions and school governing bodies,
Representatives of learner organisations,
Academics and experts in the education sector,
Representatives of non-governmental organisations,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fellow South Africans,
Good Morning, Sanibonani, Molweni,
It gives me enormous pleasure to address the first Basic Education Sector Lekgotla as we mark the dawn of a new decade.
This is the second and final year of the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).
We meet here to dialogue on the best policy trajectories to take basic education to the next frontier of progress and excellence.
Amongst the objectives of this Lekgotla is take stock of the progress we have made and steps taken to accelerate the achievement of the SGD4 and the National Development Plan goals and objectives.
We will reemphasise the importance of focussing on quality and efficiency of learning outcomes utilising assessment data to craft new strategies.
It will be remiss for this Lekgotla not to ventilate on the progress made and measures taken to ensure that our learners are equipped with knowledge and skills for a changing world.
As we know the 4th Industrial Revolution isn’t a rumour but it’s real.
We also intend to harness our strategies in the area of promoting entrepreneurship in the teaching and learning of all subjects.
At the same time, we must develop practical steps to enhance the implementation of methods and techniques to promote neuroscience education in the teaching and learning of foundational skills.
This Lekgotla must also pay particular attention to the area of Early Childhood Development.
We intend to garner inputs to strengthen the draft framework for the implementation of the decision on the function shift of Early Childhood Development from the Social Development to us.
At the back of our minds, we must never forget to link our inputs and strategies to the broader Government priorities.
In short, these are:
- Economic transformation and job creation;
- Education, skills and health;
- Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services;
- Spatial integration, human settlements and local government;
- Social cohesion and safe communities;
- A capable, ethical and developmental state and
- A better Africa and World.
However our immediate task as the Basic Education Department is to demonstrate our unyielding focus on sector priorities that flows from the broader Government priorities.
Just to recap, taking our cue from the Government’s priorities, the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has decided that we must in this current five-year-term work towards achieving eleven non-negotiable strategic areas.
These have already been factored in the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), 2019 – 2024.
As I recap each priority, I will also state progress that has been made to date and challenges thereof.
Priority 1: Improving the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially, ‘Reading for meaning.’
In a bid to action, the President’s directive that every child should learn to read for meaning by the age of ten, we are rallying all South Africans to work together to achieve this goal.
Under the overarching programme, the Primary School Reading Improvement Project (PSRIP), a range of support interventions to improve the quality of teaching of Home languages (especially the marginalised African Languages), as well as English as a First Additional Language has been actioned.
Reading resources that have been found to have had impact on reading outcomes have been prioritised.
The resource package includes daily lesson plans aligned to the curriculum, additional appropriate reading materials in the African languages, and coaching for teachers.
In efforts to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics in the early grades, in 2019, the Framework for Teaching Mathematics with Understanding, was developed.
The purpose of the Framework is to improve teaching practices. The Framework sets out a number of practical guidelines and recommendations for teachers.
Subsequent to the pilot of the implementation of the Framework for Teaching Mathematics with Understanding in 41 schools in Grades 1-3 in three provinces – the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo; the programme will be rolled out.
We will, together with all stakeholders from parents, to civil society organisations, teachers and learners rally around reading as a national priority to roll back the challenges of innumeracy and illiteracy amongst South Africans.
Priority 2: Immediate implementation of a curriculum focussing on skills and competencies for a changing world.
In this regard we have developed a Framework for Skills for a Changing World.
In March 2019, the development of the Coding and Robotics curriculum was finalized.
We will, together with stakeholders in education continue to improve the education system and develop the skills that we need now and into the future, starting with the implementation of Writing of the Coding and Robotics Curriculum for lower grades in 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. Work on this front is continuing.
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. As we know this created a storm in the teacup.
The purpose of the GEC is to provide a foundation certificate for learners in the General Education and Training (GET) Band to acknowledge the competencies gained from ten years of formal schooling at the end of Grade 9.
The achievement of the GEC will allow learners to access three learning pathways. I will elaborate on three stream curriculum model shortly.
To continue with an academic route through the completion of a schooling programme, the National Curriculum Statement (NCS), culminating in the achievement of the National Senior Certificate at NQF Level 4.
The GEC is not a new qualification neither is it an exit one. It was registered in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in 2008/09 and expired in June 2012.
Progress in the development of the GEC has been made as follows:
- The qualification framework has been reviewed.
- Approval has been granted for handing the qualification framework over to Umalusi for further refinement up to registration by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
- The qualification has been submitted to Umalusi for finalisation and submission to SAQA for registration on the National Qualifications Framework.
Meanwhile, 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.
We are to do so in the light of the National Development Plan (NDP’s) injunction that we must have a ‘world class assessment system’ involving ‘reliable measures of learning for every school across grades.’
The first cycle of systemic evaluation in Grades 3, 6 and 9 will be finalised by June this year.
The introduction of the Three-Stream Curriculum Model is continuing in earnest especially with regards to Technical Education.
During the financial year, 26 technical occupational subjects were being developed, and 22 subjects have been submitted to Umalusi for appraisal and feedback.
Almost 260 subject advisors and teachers were oriented in the subjects and 67 Schools of Skill are piloting the technical occupational subjects.
The plan is in place to finalise textbook development for the 22 elective subjects for the Technical-Occupational Stream.
To this end, we have finalised the Concept Paper to strengthen the Three-Stream Curriculum Model.
As you might recall the Ministerial Task Team was established to oversee the implementation of the model.
Priority 5: Eliminate the digital divide by ensuring that within six years, all schools and education offices have access to internet and free data.
We should have by the end of 2019, completed and digitalised CAT and IT Grade 10 -12 state-owned textbooks (high enrolment subjects). Assessed 10% of the Special schools for connectivity and ICT infrastructure deployment.
Assessed 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 last 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 compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD) before Grade 1; and the systematic function shift of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education in line with global trends.
To this end, the Ministries of Basic Education and Social Development have developed a joint Concept Note on the ECD function shift.
The Concept Note amongst others, identifies eight work-streams, which will be made clear in the National ECD Framework.
The eight work-streams include finance, legal, Monitoring, evaluation and quality assurance, Human resource management and development, Infrastructure, Governance, curriculum and service delivery, Nutrition and health; and Communication and advocacy.
The National ECD Framework will be released by the end of the 2019/2020 financial year.
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 (SAPS) 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.
To this end, the National School Safety Framework has been developed.
The National School Safety Framework supports provinces in establishing the Protocol with SAPS established in nine Provincial Education Departments.
We have adopted and are implementing two protocols, one dealing with incidences of corporal punishment in schools, and the other dealing with the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools.
All relevant personnel at provincial and district levels have been trained on how to use the protocols in a child protective manner without rendering children who are victims vulnerable to exploitation by the system.
The roll-out of competitive and recreational school sport programmes has been jointly facilitated by Department of Basic Education and the Department of Sports and Recreation.
We continue to work with the Departments of Social Development and Health; education stakeholders including parents; Non-Governmental Organisations; universities and researchers; and development partners to strengthen our programmes in schools.
Interventions include raising awareness and capacity in our educators on various psychosocial skills to enable them to support vulnerable learners.
To date, we have placed over 2 658 Learner Support Agents in schools; trained and placed child and youth care workers through partnerships with the Department of Social Development, provinces and NGOs.
Health and Safety in schools:
We should have already supported the provision of school health services to 200 000 learners in Grade R, 1, 4, 8 and 10 including human papilloma virus (HPV) in Grade 5.
By now we should have printed and distributed 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 are yet to 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.
We will continue prioritizing school infrastructure programmes including the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) and the provision of basic services.
The Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative of eradicating unsafe and inappropriate sanitation facilities is our top priority over the next three years from last year 2019 to 2022 targeting the nearly 4000 schools that still have inappropriate sanitation facilities.
Since the inception of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) programme, 229 inappropriate schools have been eradicated, 834 sanitation, 957 water and 372 electricity projects completed.
In the current financial year, 40 inappropriate structures, 311 sanitation and 225 water projects are targeted for completion.
On the Sanitation Appropriate for Education Programme (SAFE); 606 projects are targeted to be completed in the current financial year. 188 projects have been completed to date.
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).
In our pursuit of Inclusive Education, we will ensure that People Living with Disabilities have equitable access to education, health services, employment, social security and all the opportunities that come with living in a democracy.
To date the progressive rollout of SIAS Policy and Curriculum Differentiation has reached 99 470 teachers and 5 567 officials.
All Provincial Education Departments are now conducting training to consolidate and institutionalise the implementation of SIAS to ensure strengthened early identification and intervention.
In November 2019, we hosted the Roundtable on Resourcing of Schools for Learners with Special Educational Needs.
The technology companies, supported DBE’s plans to meet our ICT roll-out obligations especially to increase the pace of provision of ICTs to all schools of learners with special education needs.
An audit of the farm schools as well as the multi-grade and multi-phase schools is being conducted so that the ICT roll-out in these schools is appropriately done.
In preparation for the rollout, school principals, school management teams, and teachers have been trained on change management.
Priority 11: Strengthen partnership with all stakeholders, private sector, and promote integrated governance, intergovernmental relations, and labour peace.
We should accelerate progress in sharing information with our international and national partners so that funding and support is aligned will our priorities especially our focus on improving learner outcomes, especially in the Foundation Phase.
As the new administration, we are buoyed by the recent matric results that bridged the 80 percent threshold for the first time since the dawn of democracy in 1994.
This milestone must not distract us from the path of development we have charted for ourselves as a country.
Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend. We are stronger together, always. Let’s build a South Africa of our dreams.
I thank you.