Response at Mount Frere District Gala Dinner by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, Mount Frere, Eastern Cape
25 Jan 2012
MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mr Qhoboshiyane
MEC for Education, Mr Makhuphula
Representatives of school governing bodies
Representatives of teacher unions
Partners and all stakeholders in education
Thank you for making a conscious option for education, particularly deep in rural South Africa where the vast majority of our people are exposed more to untold hardship in the face of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
We’re indeed fortified by the unity you’ve afforded to education in the Mount Frere District just as you have done for other under-resourced rural and township schools across the country.
Education is a societal issue and this is what is strongly demonstrated by tonight’s gala dinner on education.
We took back this land and restored the birthright to all confident that with ‘unity and struggle’ we will create a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. We were guided by sacred values embalmed in the Freedom Charter itself to pursue the national democratic revolution to its logical conclusion – a new social order with new ways of social organisation alive to the needs of the entire human race.
Therefrom, with confidence and unmatched strength, we have rearticulated our people’s solemn pledge “to strive together, sparing neither strength nor courage, until the democratic changes” in the Freedom Charter have been won.
It is precisely for these reasons, of building a new and better society, that we’re all gathered in Mount Frere to say how each of us can give to the creation of a new dream for the nation’s children according to his and her ability, selflessly, with no gain or extravagant expectation for accruing interest.
The oldest liberation movement in Africa is celebrated in 2012 precisely because its raison d’être was premised on values of selflessness, moral supremacy and communalism.
Against this backdrop we welcome your work for an improved quality of basic education through, among others, the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) whose success relies on active involvement of all stakeholders.
It is through the QLTC that we can better coordinate strategic and tactical actions we agreed to at Nedlac when we signed the Accord on Basic Education and Partnership with schools.
We welcome South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa’s (NAPTOSA), investment in working with government to implement the agreed upon national strategy for teacher development and have a clear plan for funding in this regard. We view as divine SADTU’s commitment to activate its institute for professional development to provide quality training programmes for teachers.
Through joint action, demonstrated here today, we will surely “strive together” to improve the participation and performance of girl learners, help schools to guide learners’ subject choices and prioritise correct placement of teachers.
With your help we will work towards a speedy resolution of the serious challenges of capacity that gave rise inevitably to the need for a Section 100 1(b) intervention in the Eastern Cape. The same now extends to Limpopo which is receiving huge support from trade unions and other role-players.
Burning issues necessitating intervention in the Eastern Cape included: over-expenditure of the budget for compensation of employees, failure to provide textbooks and stationery to Section 20 schools and suspension of the scholar transport programme.
Cabinet was also worried about the termination of the school nutrition programme and the inability to effectively implement the school infrastructure development programme in a province faced with serious infrastructural backlogs and mud schools.
Cabinet’s aim was and remains to help the province to create an enabling environment conducive for efficient and effective delivery of educational services in the province. Among others, we remain deeply concerned about the grave matters of temporary teachers, books and infrastructure.
When we performed our school analysis of the 2011 national exams, we said it is essential to make the school environment conducive for learning. Whatever we do here affects lives of children in 256 schools in the Mount Frere district – 230 primary schools and 26 secondary schools.
You were right to say education in this district and province call for urgent action. We’ve also set the bar higher for all provinces for 2012. All districts and all schools are expected to perform at the national average of 70%.
In 2011 the Eastern Cape was the worst performing province with a pass rate of 58.1%, even down from 58.3% of 2010, a further decline of 0.2%. Of the 65 359 learners who wrote matric in this province, only 37 997 achieved a pass, of these, only 10 291 (15.7%) qualified for bachelors studies.
The five poorest performing districts, which are all in the Eastern Cape, are: Butterworth, Fort Beaufort, Libode, Sterkspruit and Mount Frere. Mount Frere is one of the consistently poor performing districts in the country with Grade 12 results for the past 3 years showing slight improvement and a decline in 2011. Its average for the past four years is 45%.
There is a link between performance in matric exams and the Annual National Assessments (ANA). In the case of ANA, in Grade three for literacy Mount Frere got a mean average of 41.44 and for numeracy 41.98. For Grade six, the district managed only 31.23 for language and 25.50 for maths.
We have mobilised teams to assist underperforming districts. Out of the process we want credible plans to improve learner outcomes. Our teams and provinces will help districts to develop plans aligned to our long-term strategy – the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025.
Attending to the complexity of running a district that is housed in four buildings, with a shortage of subject advisors, school infrastructure and furniture will rank high on the list of steps to be taken with the province and with the help of the DBE-based Planning & Delivery Oversight Unit.
As mandated by the ruling party, we will continue prioritising early childhood development for a solid educational foundation.
Our work in Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Sciences, Economics and Accounting will succeed if we strengthen the primary school level, teaching tables every day as necessary.
This year we will ensure a smooth implementation of the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements. Primary schools will now teach English from Grade one.
We will continue using the workbooks we introduced last year to support teaching and learning, ensuring learners have quality materials. For monitoring and accountability for what happens in the classroom, we will step-up and improve the Annual National Assessments.
With your support, more work will be done to improve on the following: literacy and numeracy across all grades; learners’ completion rate; career counselling; gateway subjects; working conditions of educators; attracting talented youth to teaching.
Working with provinces, we will build the necessary capacity and support at district and provincial levels; education MECs have all extended unqualified support in this regard.
We trust that this timely intervention will indeed help us remove all obstacles to quality learning and teaching and thus bring us closer to achieving our educational, human resources, and development goals.
The two-day education indaba that has brought us here indeed shows much can be achieved by working together united by the common goal of educating children for a better life for all.
Nkosi Ndevu, we’re grateful for the leadership you’ve shown by prioritising education. CONTRALESA has indeed showed us that “everyone is his brother's keeper. We are obliged to look after each other.”
I salute sincerely all education stakeholders and organisations for the support extended to the sector. Together we can map a way-forward for the nation like we did in Kliptown in June 1955.
As COSATU has said: “The transformation of our education system not only requires dedication from our teachers and their adherence to the non-negotiable’s which include being in class and teaching on time, but also the involvement of broader society, including parents, school governing bodies, the business sector and government” (COSATU Press Release, 23 January 2012).
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
25 Jan 2012
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