Speech by MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, Senzo Mchunu on the occasion on the official announcement of the 2010 National Senior Certificate results at the Chief Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre
6 Jan 2011
Honourable Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize
My colleagues, Members of the Executive Council
Members of Parliament and the Provincial Legislature
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ethekwini Mayor, Cllr Obed Mlaba
Top management of the Department of Education
Leaders of trade unions
Officials of the Department of Education
Teachers and parents
The daily appearance of the sun on earth and the precision with which this happens, the appearance of the moon, the gleaming of the stars from the sky, the free movement of trees from side to side, the involuntary flow of rivers, the sounds of animals in the wild and the singing of birds – this is all evidence that the Creator, God, Allah, Modimo, Xikwembu, Mudzimu, Mungu, Chukwu, Mwari, uThixo, uNkulunkulu, uMvelinqangi, does indeed exist.
In our country, the FIFA World Cup dominated 2010. It was a spectacular showpiece, it all happened almost with the perfection of the sun. It was hosted by us, mSouthern as they say, an African country and the first ever. We will continue to celebrate this achievement for a long time to come. But elsewhere in the world - and in some cases, in our country as well - there was very little to celebrate. A number of countries experienced the worst natural disasters.
In Haiti, over 220-thousand people perished as a result of the earthquake that flattened Port Au Prince. In Chile, another earthquake struck, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. In China and closer to home, in Uganda, heavy rains buried villages and towns killing thousands of people. There were dozens more calamities around the globe which all combined, has seen 2010 being dubbed a year with the deadliest of natural disasters in a generation. Other parts of the world continued to grapple with civil strife and never-ending wars, for others, man-made disasters.
For the moments of both happiness and sorrow that the world experienced in 2010, we submit to the Almighty. As a country and as province, we submit our aspirations on education to the same Creator. With greater zeal and determination, KwaZulu-Natal aspires for quality education; high performance reflected by a high pass rate, particularly in matric, we want success. We know that success can only come from hard work. It is for this reason that we were deeply humbled by the experiences we picked up from the very well-meaning teachers, learners, parents, teacher unions, business community and all stakeholders – all of whom worked extremely hard to contribute meaningfully to our efforts to bring about quality education to our people.
While the euphoria of the World Cup gripped the whole country, as the Education Department, we knew that we would still need to answer to the people of KZN at the end of the year.
It was for this reason that we encouraged teachers and learners to do as much teaching and learning as possible, even at the height of the World Cup and during the salary negotiations for public servants. We also knew that since 2010 was one of the greatest years in our history, it would be such an absurdity that many learners would be left to fail and unable to fulfill their dreams during a year of goals. It would be a bad after-taste.
So we had to work hard in order to produce good and quality results. To this end, there were serious attempts by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Education to ensure that learner-performance, was enhanced – building upon the successes of 2009 when we saw a 3,3 percent improvement in the grade 12 pass rate.
In the past eighteen months, we have had countless engagements with teachers, officials, social partners and learners and throughout this period we were humbled by the enthusiasm we found in them. And these engagements are beginning to bear fruits. But we still need to do a lot more so that we move away from a situation where it seems normal to have schools that are identified as underperformers, let alone non-performers. We need to eradicate such schools completely, regardless of the challenges they may be facing.
At this moment, we wish to thank the African National Congress and the government for making education priority number one in South Africa.
The centrepiece of this prioritization is the delivery of quality education to all South African learners, irrespective of their background, colour or faith. The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal stands ready and prepared to make good on this promise – without fail.
We wish to express our heartfelt appreciation to our President Jacob Zuma for leading by example. It was in August 7th, 2009, at this very same venue when the President told the 1500 school principals from around the country that teachers need to be in school, in class teaching and on time. He further said, “We have essentially come together to launch a new drive to truly change the learning, teaching and management of our schools.”
In May 2010, our Premier, Dr Zweli Mkhize called a KZN Imbizo of 1500 school principals with the aim of reinforcing the President’s message, we thank you Khabazela for this high level encouragement on your part. In the department, we’ve gone further down, meeting with school government bodies, school management teams, principals, teachers as well as learners.
We acknowledge the fact that when we started in mid-2009 relations between SADTU and the department were almost frozen. Through mutual efforts it has been possible to improve the situation and creating an enabling environment for constructive engagements on various areas of our work, including the struggle to improve matric results. We have had several engagements with Natu and the aim is to free all of us so that we have greater focus on the classroom. We would like to have good working relations with all stakeholders, including business, based on our understanding that education is everybody’s business. In a condition of labour peace and cooperation, education becomes an uncontested winner.
May I take this opportunity to thank the SABC and specifically Ukhozi FM and Lotus FM for running the Matric Catch-Up Programmes. It was a really a good and direct contribution to efforts to improve results in our country and our province.
We believe it is important for all of us to understand the meaning of an educated child to hersef or himself, to the family, to the community, to the province and to the country as a whole. I wish to borrow from one American educational reformer and philosopher, John Dewey who once said, “Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself.”
We firmly believe in hard work and high performance even with scarce resources. Not only because it is revolutionary to do so but because it yields tangible results for all of us.
We began 2010 with a focused 10-point intervention plan. The key performance areas were the following:
- Provision and monitoring of the use of critical resources
- Availability, retrieval and use of LTSM
- Focus on Teaching and Learning
- Effective Monitoring of School functionality
- Effective school leadership and management
- Governance and community involvement
- District visits by the MEC and Top Management.
In implementing the departmental 10-point plan, a number of critical initiatives were launched. And these included:
- A strategic planning meeting of all role-players in January 2010, to assess the successes, strengths, weaknesses and challenges, as evidenced in 2009
- A strategic session in August 2010, to assess learner progress and performance in the March and June common tests, and to chart a way forward to improve learner readiness for the 2010 NSC Examination in the most practical and concrete way.
And, in line with the outcomes approach, the department has continued its emphasis on improving the numeracy, reading, writing, languages in all grades and the Grade 12 pass rate.
The Annual National Assessment (ANA) in February 2011 will be the cornerstone from which improvements in numeracy, reading, writing, languages and Mathematics are founded. It is expected that educators, subject advisors, parents and all stakeholders alike will use the results from ANA to improve their understanding of what the learners can and/or cannot do at a particular stage or grade based on empirical evidence from ANA and other assessment results.
We’ve set ourselves ambitious goals for 2011. These are:
- Ensuring that teaching and learning commences on the first formal day of the new school term, and continues throughout the year, till the end
- Ensuring that teachers prepare for classes in a manner that can be expected of dedicated professional teachers, whilst parents should register learners in schools timeously, attend the required school functions and foster a climate of respect for education and schools
- Support schools, learners and educators with determination, fortitude and excellence
- Ensure that districts and head office-based staff complies with their administrative and professional responsibilities to ensure that schools and learners meet the expectations of the department.
We will host a KZN Education Summit next month with one objective, strategising to force the system of education to work in KwaZulu-Natal. We will come out with plans to overcome current challenges and become a leading province in providing quality education.
In KwaZulu-Natal 130 302 full-time candidates registered and 122 444 sat for the 2010 NSC Examination. This figure represents 23.7 percent of the national figure. Of the 20 626 part-time candidates registered, 12 800 wrote their exam. We had 17 713 ABET candidates registered and 11 846 wrote their exam.
We are happy to announce that there has been a marked improvement in the performance in almost all the subjects including the critical ones, such as accounting, economics, mathematics and physical science. We’ve also increased the number of learners who qualified to do a bachelor degree from 26 287 in 2009 to 31 466 this year and those who qualified to do diplomas from 31 406 in 2009 to 34 708 in 2010. It is also with great pride that we announce that all the twelve districts in KwaZulu-Natal have made significant improvements in their pass percentages this year. We congratulate rural districts in particular, for overcoming and do this well.
District pass percentage: 2009-2010
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It is therefore, with great pride and pleasure that I complement the Class of 2010 for achieving a provincial pass rate of 70.7 percent - an improvement of 9,6 percent on the 2009 results.
I congratulate all learners on their success, and would like to take this opportunity to wish them well in their future endeavours. May all your dreams come to fruition, and may you contribute to a better, brighter and progressive South Africa. To those who have not succeeded, we wish to assure you that we will provide the best possible opportunities for you, by way of the Supplementary Examination for those who qualify to write it, and for those who wish to repeat grade 12 in 2011.
As MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, I wish to thank all role-players who have gone an extra mile in ensuring learner success, and for a successful and productive 2010. Our gratitude also goes to the district management, the Examination and Assessment staff and principals who ensured a perfect 2010 NSC Examination and also for ensuring that school-based assessment is strengthened. Let me further thank ward managers, circuit managers, district directors, principals, teachers, learners and parents for making to 2010 the year that we are immensely proud of.
In our aspiration to be counted amongst the best performing education departments in the country, we would like to be as precise as the sun when it rises from the east, firm but polite like the moon and as bright as the stars.
I thank you.
Source: KwaZulu-Natal Education
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Education
6 Jan 2011
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