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Budget Speech by Mr Enver Surty, MP, Deputy Minister of Education, 17 May 2005, Mr Enver Surty speeches

 

Budget Speech by Mr Enver Surty, MP, Deputy Minister of Education

Madame Deputy Speaker
Honourable Minister(s) and Deputy Minister(s)
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Invited Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

The Freedom Charter enjoins us to ensure that the doors of learning and culture are opened. The Minister and other speakers have reflected on how far we have come in achieving this vision. While we are justifiably proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time, we are also mindful of the enormous challenges that still lie ahead.

These challenges, by their very nature, reflect the difficulties inherent in transforming a racist education system, from one that was aimed at developing the human potential and skills of a small, mainly white, portion of the population, into one that seeks to develop the human potential of all South Africans in our non-racial, non-sexist, democratic dispensation.

Among the key challenges we face is the need to inculcate a learning and teaching ethos where all children are expected to succeed. This is not only a responsibility of the Department of Education, but it is a task for which all of us are responsible. The quality of education and the support we provide produce the skills that are critical for the developmental challenges we face as a young democracy.

Essentially this means that we need to further enhance the functionality and effectiveness of our public schools. Critical to the success of this task is the need to turn around under-performing and non-performing schools; to develop appropriate strategies to assist schools facing challenges of safety; to accelerate the delivery of water and sanitation provision to schools; to assist provinces in the elimination of instances of learners receiving education in non-conducive environments and to address social issues that impact negatively on the delivery of quality education in our schools.

Achieving these objectives are imperative for the establishment of an environment conducive for effective learning, where learners become more than mere passive recipients of information. It also calls on our educators to increase their professional knowledge base through relevant training in order to enhance their ability to educate learners to engage more critically and innovatively with the content of different learning areas.

We must support our educators in this, but they must also take responsibility for their own professional development. Through the implementation of our Integrated Quality Management System we will be able to reward the most competent and dedicated teachers.

This is particularly relevant in areas where there is a scarcity of skills. The development of an appropriate response to the challenge of scarce skills has been a major area of focus for the Department. Mathematics, Science and Technology have been identified as key development drivers for the country and the new money provided by Treasury will allow us to provide incentives for scarce skills and hardship posts, ensuring that well qualified teachers are found and retained in all schools.

As government we recognise the importance of Mathematics in the lives of our children. It is the enabling discipline for all sciences and technologies. Without it the career choices of our learners will continue to be limited and this will have severe implications for our efforts to create a more equitable society. The introduction of Mathematical Literacy in the Further Education and Training band will enhance our effort to create a numerate society able to respond to its developmental challenges.

Further, our national Maths and Science Strategy will also contribute towards breaking the cycle of mediocrity in mathematics, science and technology education, particularly in historically disadvantaged schools. Through specific interventions such as the Dinaledi programme, we are aiming to improve enrolment and participation in these critical disciplines.

Since its launch, the strategy resulted in consistent improvement in participation and performance in Grades 10, 11 and 12 mathematics and physical science, especially among African learners and girl learners. Many successes and lessons have been learned in the first three years of its implementation indicated by the fact that since 2001, enrolment in mathematics has increased by 17.1%. Similarly, enrolment in physical science has increased by 25.5%.

It must also be noted that performance in these subjects increased during the same period. A comparison of the academic year 2001 and 2004 reveals that the number of learners who passed mathematics increased by 36.2% while the number of learners who passed physical science increased by 38.3%.

In terms of African participation and performance, in 2004 the 102 dedicated schools contributed 11.4% of the African output in mathematics HG and similarly contributed to 9.6% of the African output in physical science HG, although Dinaledi comprises only 1.6% of the total number of schools.

During my Budget speech last year I indicated that we are exploring ways in which this strategy can be expanded to more schools, particularly in the rural areas. Today I am happy to announce that significant progress has been made since then in preparing the groundwork for the successful expansion of our MST Strategy.

Essentially the expansion programmes will have the following objectives: 

  •  Doubling the number of learners passing HG mathematics and science to 50 000 by 2008;
  •  
  • Equiping learners to have the ability to go beyond basic computer literacy and to use digital technology, communication tools and networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate and create information.

We aim to achieve the above by addressing the following: Providing a basic ‘package’ of support to all schools;
Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on progress on a bi-annual basis;
Breaking down the psychological barriers about mathematics and science being hard or difficult;
Training of more confident and competent educators;
Ensuring better school management;
Providing basic resources for educators and learners;
Ensuring greater district and provincial support for the selected schools;
Addressing language challenges in mathematics and science;
Providing career guidance for learners earlier to illustrate the benefits and opportunities through the gateway subjects;
Accelerating the process of rewarding scarce skills educators;
Using interactive digital technology; and
Strengthening the numeracy skills in the GET Band.

Another key challenge facing us is to ensure that our schools become laboratories for citizenship in our democracy where the fundamental values underpinning our Constitution are finding real expression. Learners, when exposed to and educated about democracy, social justice and equity, non-racism and non-sexism are more likely to be advocates for social justice in future.

To achieve this, we need to transform the institutional culture in our schools and institutions of higher learning, so that they give expression to the fundamental values underpinning our Constitution. Central to the achievement of this is the creation of greater awareness among learners and educators of our national symbols and this we aim to do through strengthening our collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture.

Among the initiatives that we have identified for implementation are ensuring that all learners know the national anthem, understand the history and significance of our national days and providing readings of South African and African writers such as Plaatje, Coetzee and Achebe in our schools so that we can instil pride in our learners of their South African and African identity and rich cultural heritage.

Through pre-service and in-service training we are also ensuring that all educators are able to integrate Constitutional values into their teaching.

As part of the curriculum, HIV and Aids education is responsible for the greater awareness on this subject. The Department of Education has developed and produced HIV and Aids resource guides that will be used by schools to prepare an action plant to respond to the pandemic.

Generally, School Governing Bodies have had a positive impact on how schools are governed, on the relationship between communities and the school, and in the increased confidence of previously disadvantaged communities, in particular, to engage in and provide support to their schools.

We must, however, express our concern that in some instances the key provisions in the South African Schools Act and other legislation related to school governance is selectively applied by certain groups of parents to oppose transformation.

In our last budget speech, we warned that we will change our legislation, if necessary, to ensure that the principles of equity, redress and representivity are complied with by school governing bodies and we have indeed done so through the proposed Education Laws Amendment Bill.

Yet we shall continue to engage School Governing Bodies on this and other matters so as to ensure that they play a constructive role in meeting our objective of providing access to quality education for all.

We have noted with great concern the recent spate of violent incidents in schools that has been widely reported in the media. This is a situation, which we as the Education Ministry cannot and will not tolerate. Schools must be safe places for both learners and educators, where learning can take place without fear or anxiety and in an atmosphere of tranquillity, peace and stability.

I have recently met with my colleague, the Deputy Minister of Safety and Security, in the company of senior officials of both Departments, to discuss the matter and to shape our response to this challenge.

The problem of violence at schools requires a holistic approach which must also focus on the development and implementation of proactive interventions to reduce and prevent violence and crimes in learning institutions. These include addressing factors that contribute to crime and violence both in schools and school communities, ensuring that schools contribute to the development of safe communities by instilling positive value systems through the education of children. A comprehensive programme involving both Departments, at national, provincial and district level, in all nine provinces is being developed.

Schools are not islands and communities have a critical role to play in strengthening our efforts by:

Supporting community police forums, school governing bodies and sector policing initiatives in their areas;

Supporting all efforts geared at functionality in schools and creating healthy, disciplined and safe learning environments; and

Recognising the risk associated with the use of and trade in illegal drugs and helping to put an end to such practices in communities.

Sport can play a potentially crucial role in contributing to a safe and drug free learning environment. Sport continues to play a major role in promoting national reconciliation, social transformation, social cohesion and the achievement of a national identity. As such we need to increase the mass participation levels in school sport as part of our moral regeneration campaign, in support of social cohesion and in the promotion of healthy lifestyles, so as to meet the developmental challenges of our united but diverse society.

We all have a responsibility to foster a sense of pride, honour and patriotism in our school-going youth and must do so through a properly organised, managed and coordinated school sport programmes. We must use school sport to turn schools into stable, functional institutions of learning and recreation and vibrant centres of community life.

We must take advantage of the many benefits that Physical Education and school sport give to children and the youth, including a distinctive contribution to their physical, social, affective and cognitive development. In so doing we will lay the foundation for lifelong physical activity and sport participation. As we do so we shall continue to emphasise the crucial role of sport and Physical Education in the lives and development of women and girls.

We need to acknowledge and respond to the worldwide challenges of the growth of childhood obesity, incidences of early sexual activity, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse

I am pleased to record that we have agreed on a sound framework for cooperation with the Ministry of Sport and Recreation, through which we will ensure a secure position for sport within all schools for all children, by means of an integrated programme of appropriate activities, supported by quality teacher training initiatives.

Our call today is for all of us to be reminded of those comrades at Kliptown on 26 June 1955, who gathered together and declared: The Doors of Learning and Culture shall be Opened! What better way to honour them than by encouraging our youth to be active participants in the transformation of our society through the provision of quality education to all our children.

Finally, in the light of the strong emphasis we place on cooperation and coordination between the Department of Education and other departments and stakeholders it is most appropriate to conclude with the following words of our President:
“Acting together, we do have the capacity to realise these objectives. And sparing neither effort nor strength, we can and shall build a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”

Thank you.

Increasing the number of dedicated Mathematics and Science schools to 400; and

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 6/30/2008
Number of Views: 496

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