Mr Geoffrey Qhena, IDC CEO
Chairman of Shanduka, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa
IDC Divisional Executive, Ms Josephine Gaveni
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good afternoon. Today means more to me as we take to another level the partnership between my Department and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). Today’s partnership flows from the NEDLAC Accord on Basic Education and Partnership with Schools.
The fact that at this official announcement we will handover Adoption Certificates to the 20 schools that the IDC has adopted can only show that our bonds of partnership are based on unity in action, not on empty promises.
I’m equally glad that among us we have the Chairman of the Shanduka Group and the Adopt-a-School Foundation, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, whose Foundation is doing a tremendous job for education.
Only last month, I was with him in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, where we handed over a state-of-the-art Grade R unit to Mbonisweni Primary, provided by his Foundation.
The IDC should therefore be pleased to know that it made the right choice when it selected Shanduka Adopt-a-School Foundation as a strategic partner in the implementation of this programme.
I believe the IDC made the right decision when it approved in November 2011 a revised CSI Educational focus supporting an inclusive intervention targeting selected schools across the country in support of the Basic Education Accord. This was in the very year that we signed the Accord as part of the NEDLAC social dialogue.
Your work in education is vast and greatly appreciated. In 2007 the IDC supported education through various projects and in the same year adopted 15 schools as part of the support for our Department’s Dinaledi school project. In 2008 the IDC adopted 15 more schools bringing the total to 30.
This partnership will enhance our work aimed at ensuring effective teaching and learning so as to improve the quality of education in our schools. The focus will be on the overall functionality of schools.
The areas of focus for the IDC/DBE partnership are in line with the approach we agreed to at the last two-day meeting of the Council of Education Ministers. We agreed with education MECs that improving learning outcomes should be a priority for the nation and the sector.
Given the observation of the National Development Plan on the dysfunctionality of some public schools, we agreed that we needed to do all in our power to see real improvements in performance in the sector.
My Department will enlist services of skilled external experts in relevant areas to monitor and support schools and to help unblock bottlenecks in areas of weakness.
They will include a team of engineers, auditors and other expertise to undertake work with speed in areas like: Rationalisation of schools; School audit to get the right teacher in front of the right class; HR issues; Comprehensive infrastructure plans; Data challenges including headcounts; Teacher profiling; Implementation of the National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy; and Mentoring.
This partnership should help us get there. Education is the bedrock of development. Thus the parties to the NEDLAC Accord felt that improving the quality of basic education is a fundamental issue:
“Performance in the schooling system is at the heart of building the skills base for economic growth and development and ensuring that the society is able to achieve our equity and development goals” (NEDLAC Accord 2, 2011: 4).
The South African Schools Act (1996) has also underscored the transformative nature of education. It has tasked us to build an education system that will truly “redress past injustices in educational provision” and “provide an education of progressively high quality for all learners” (Preamble).
It calls upon us to use education to “advance the democratic transformation of society, combat racism and sexism and all other forms of unfair discrimination and intolerance, contribute to the eradication of poverty and the economic wellbeing of society” (Ibid).
I have no doubt that the selected schools will indeed benefit from this intervention as the IDC chose them carefully in consultation with our Department, provincial departments and districts, in terms of guidelines of the Accord.
This year we will launch with education partners in the business sector and our key stakeholders a national education partnership initiative whose main aim is to help pool resources that are invested in education.
The national education partnership structure will bring better coordination, synergy and impact to all contributions and interventions in education. In this way, we can even guide, with the help of communities, our partners towards areas where support is really needed.
These acts of social responsibility go to show that working together we can do more to transform our schools into centres of excellence as President Jacob Zuma has charged us to do when he presented the 2013 State of the Nation Address.
Since we officially launched the NEDLAC Accord on Basic Education in 2011, many of our people have heeded the call to make education a societal issue. They are helping us to turn South Africa’s public schools into functional institutions with proper infrastructure, sound management and other resources.
Since the ANC came into power in 1994 and made education the nation’s apex priority, we have been saying that government’s effort to provide knowledge and skills that are vital for economic growth and development, will only bear fruit with the support and active participation of all persons.
We thank the IDC for understanding its role in development and accordingly prioritised support for schools. We’ve done very well as a democratic state to broaden access to education. In 2012, we provided over R3 billion for Grade R. Through this programme we aim to ensure that children are well-prepared for formal schooling.
In 1999, South Africa had only 156 292 learners in Grade R. By 2012, the number had increased to 767 865. There are more than 22 000 Grade R classes in our schools. There was an increase from just over 20 000 Grade R teachers in 2009 to around 22 000 Grade R teachers in 2011.
We are aware more needs to be done to sustain the increased access and to improve quality of the educational experience.
We welcome the President’s announcement of a Presidential Remuneration Commission to review salaries of public servants, with teachers as a first priority. This is one of the key messages we took to the National Teaching Awards at Gallagher Conference Centre last night.
Working with provinces and districts, we will ensure that teachers teach children every day, that learners have and use textbooks and workbooks, that the curriculum is covered, that learners have transport and lunch and that they are screened and supported where they need additional support.
Together with education partners and stakeholders, including parents and guardians, we must ensure that all children come to school regularly. If we work together we can do more to make a difference in the lives of children.
Lastly, I wish to urge the leadership, teachers and learners of the 20 IDC-adopted schools to make much of this investment by IDC. Your conduct and how you respond to this helping hand will greatly determine whether other equally deserving schools receive a helping hand from other institutions and from the business sector.
Working together we can do more to improve the quality of basic education.
I thank you.