Deputy President of the Republic Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa
Adopt-a-School Foundation Trustees
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is my singular honour and privilege to deliver a short address to this august occasion, the 8th Back to School Party, a brainchild of the Adopt-a-School Foundation.
At the outset, I must applaud the work of the Adopt-a-School Foundation and its many corporate partners. It is an important work not only because the programme assists Government in building new schools, ‘bricks and mortar’ but because it restores the dignity of both learners and teachers in particular and education in general. In the process, it restores the promise of freedom, a Better Life for All.
Programme Director, we have made progress in the introduction of Early Childhood Development.
We have progressively worked towards eliminating mud schools and inappropriate school structures, replacing them with state-of-the-art buildings, especially in historically neglected areas. I will elaborate on this later in my address.
Our anti-poverty strategies include the expansion of school nutrition programmes in both primary and secondary schools. Today, the National School Nutrition Programme reaches 9 million learners daily.
We have recorded significant milestones towards free education through fee-exemption programmes – about 86% of our schools have been declared no-fee schools.
We have made progress by steadily and emphatically improving Matric results from a meagre 57 percent in 1994 to over 80 percent in 2013.
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI)
However, our greatest success yet is in the area replacing inappropriate structures with the state-of-the-art buildings. Just to give you a snapshot of our Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), we have since the programme launch in 2011/12 with the initial roll out 49 schools – I am happy to report that these have been completed and handed over to communities.
During the 2012/13 – we set a target of 140 schools. Progress is as follows:
· 23 schools completed in the Eastern Cape to date
· 6 schools completed in the Western Cape to date
· 1 school completed in Mpumalanga to date
· The balance is at different stages of implementation.
In the current financial year 2014/15, we set a target of 150 schools. Progress is as follows:
· 99 schools in implementation, Framework agreements are in process for the balance.
· 78 of 99 schools at design stage in the Eastern Cape.
· 9 of 99 schools are at a stage of planning and
· 1 of 99 schools is at a stage of design in the Free State.
· 11 of 99 schools are at different phases of construction in the Western Cape
The overall count reads in 2014 is as follows:
· Schools: 79 schools completed
· Water: 224 schools have received water for the first time.
· Sanitation: 266 schools have received decent sanitation for the first time.
· Electrification: 265 schools have been connected to electricity for the first time.
Universal Access to Primary Education
Programme Director; allow me to reflect on the journey that the country has travelled since 1994 to fulfil the 1956 Freedom Charter rallying cry for the, “Doors of Learning and Culture to be opened.”
The best way to measure our progress is through the universally agreed United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
According to Millennium Development Goal 2 (MDG 2) all children of school going age, boys and girls, must achieve universal primary education by 2015, or must have completed primary education, regardless of their age. In line with the importance attached to universal education in the constitution, compulsory schooling was introduced for the age group 7–15 years by which time learners are expected to have finished grade 9. The importance attached to education is reflected by the allocation of 20% of the country’s budget to education. This currently represents the largest sectoral allocation in the country’s budget and amounts to 6% of the GDP.
I am happy to report that South Africa achieved the Millennium Development Goal 2 (MDG 2) in 2010. According to 2010 MDG Country Report, South Africa attained the goal of universal primary education before the targeted date of 2015. That same report encouraged the government to maximise the gains made during the preceding 15 years by translating this achievement into educational transformation and improving the quality and functioning of education.
Early Childhood Development (ECD)
Since the achievement of universal education for primary school age cohort the focus has now shifted to Early Childhood Development (ECD) based on the assertion that quality ECD can potentially improve learning outcomes throughout the school system. Even though there has been a steady increase in the percentage of learners enrolled in Grade R in public schools between 2002 (39.3%) and 2011 (84.8%), (DBE, 2012a) universal enrolment in Grade R may not be achieved by 2014 as originally planned.
Our ultimate target now is that by 2019, all learners in Grade 1 must have had access to a formal Grade R programme provided by the state. Working together with the ECD practitioners, the plan says by 2016 no Grade R practitioner with qualification below NQF Level 4 shall be in front of learners. By 2019, there will be no Grade R practitioner with qualification below Level 6. To achieve these ambitious targets, 13, 000 ECD practitioners will be trained towards an ECD National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 4 in the financial year 2014/15.
However, there is also a parallel process to introduce a Pre-Grade R year throughout the system. Our Medium Term Strategic Framework: 2014-2019 – demands the introduction of a Pre-Grade R year. This process is to be led by the Department of Social Development. An inter-departmental team has been working towards the finalisation of business processes, funding, human resources and infrastructure to ensure viability of the programme. This interdepartmental team consists of the Department of Basic Education, Department of Social Development, Department of Health and other state entities.
In spite of the good progress made in the primary education sector and ECD - secondary school completion rates remain problematic. According to our 2012 survey only 43.9% of learners complete secondary education (DBE, 2012) which, according to international standards, is low.
As a result, all our plans for the future centre around learner retention and improving quality of the education provided. To achieve this, there is a focus on Information and Communications Technology (ICT). We have come to the determination within the sector that ICT is crucial to improve the quality and efficiency of the system from a number of aspects including administration, e-learning and teacher training.
There is also a conscious bias towards teacher development. It is within this context that teacher development is one of the major focus areas in this current term of office. This will include various policy reviews including conditions of service, teacher recruitment, deployment, utilisation and development including a sustained focus on teachers’ professional development.
To demonstrate our seriousness in the premium we place on teachers, the Mangaung conference of the ANC resolved that we should establish a Presidential Commission to review the remuneration and conditions of employment of education and health professionals. Speaking at the SADTU 8th National Congress President Jacob Zuma announced that such a commission has indeed been established and is headed by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo.
All of us involved in this sector know very well that in order for us to improve the quality of our education – classroom teaching must improve so that learners can receive quality knowledge at the requisite level. Equally, in-order to effectively deliver the curriculum it is crucial that we have the correct teacher, teaching the correct subject in front of the class.
To achieve this we have launched various initiatives including 131 fully functioning Teacher Training Centres (including 40 ICT enabled Centres supported by our generous partner Vodacom). We firmly hold a view that the classroom is a centre piece of learning and teaching. And, at the core of this learning and teaching is a competent and confident Teacher. We note with appreciation that all Teacher Unions have also launched their own Teacher Development Institutes. These Institutes are owned by Teacher Unions but receive substantial monetary and non-monetary support from the Basic Education Department. Teacher development is one area where both Teacher Unions and the Department sing from the same hymn book.
To augment Teacher Training Centres and Teacher Development Institutes, we have also launched Subject Committees and Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). These committees provide a uniform mechanism for subject teachers and other subject specialists to contribute to the continuous process of curriculum development and effective curriculum implementation.
In conclusion, our work is not yet complete until every child in our motherland has the opportunity to grow their personal development in an environment that is safe thus enabling the nurturing of the culture of reading, mastery of numeracy, arithmetic and encouraging creativity.
It is now my pleasure and a privilege to introduce the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Adopt-a-School Foundation and the Deputy President of the Republic Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.