The Basic Education Budget Vote Speech has been well received in the Basic Education Sector, with constructive insights drawn from several senior officials at national level. The following officials shared their sentiments:
Dr Mark Chetty, Director for National Assessment said that, “despite 2020 being a difficult year for the Education Sector, the Minister re-affirmed the commitment towards laying a solid foundation for quality basic education, starting with the early years of schooling and ending with improved exit level outcomes. The Minister grounded the strategic realignment of the Basic Education Sector priorities and budget on the rights of learners to safe and quality education, providing additional human resource support to teachers and introducing innovative and creative subject disciplines that would increase the employability of our youth.
One of the three cardinal priorities Minister reported on was to improve the quality and efficiency of standardised assessments and fast tracking the implementation of the General Education Certificate (GEC). To facilitate high quality assessments below Grade 12, It was pleasing that the Minister drew attention to initiatives managed in the line function around a National Assessment Framework (NAF) to coordinate purpose-driven assessments from school entry (Grade R) to Grade 9 and the roll-out of the Systemic Evaluation model, targeted at establishing key learner competencies in Mathematics and Languages at the end of Grades 3, 6 and 9 as some significant developments during the Sixth Administration. Within a tight fiscal climate and restricted learning time in schools, an increased focus on GET programmes with a view towards modernising the curriculum with 21st Century skills and competencies linked to an assessment for learning approach must gain traction and feature prominently in sector programmes and priorities. This will energise the system at the early grades and usher in more holistic forms of support to learners”.
“The speech provides appropriate focus on the key mandates of the DBE. They are clearly set out and just as clearly elaborated upon. The speech gives an honest and accurate picture of the challenges faced in 2020 and provides a clear and honest account of what was done to address these problems. My line function encompasses Focus Schools, Marine Sciences and the Aviation curriculum development. It was gratifying to see that these were given considerable detailed attention by the Minister,” said Mr David Silman, Chief Education Specialist for the Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Directorate.
Dr Aaron Nkosi, Director for Curriculum Research commented that, “the speech covered matters that aim at attaining the priorities of the sector. However, nothing much on any on the strides made by the sector to improve safe schools and infrastructure. The speech has not touched on my line function, but alluded to connected schools which in turn, address matters of teacher development through online platforms to assist teachers to implement the guidelines for online teaching or remote teaching which were developed in 2020 due to COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, the sector has been creative in delivering many virtual teacher programmes through webinars, MS-Teams, Zoom and other platforms. Emphasis was put on Mathematics, Accounting, Physical Sciences, Coding and Robotics and Economics. The Education Sector should be leading the Information Communication and Technology (ICT) space in Africa. The models of delivering unlimited connectivity to schools should be explored. Provision of the end to end solution should not be at the centre stage now, but focus should only be the provision of unlimited connectivity in all schools. The introduction of Coding and Robotics, Marine and Aviation and the establishment of Focus Schools should not depend on donor funding which caused huge implementation delays. To succeed in these initiatives, the National Norms and Standards for school funding will have to be revised to accommodate the weightings of the special subjects”.