Notes for debate on the 2012 State of the Nation Address (SoNA) by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, Parliament, Cape Town
15 Feb 2012
Honourable members and colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,
No loud noises can drown, in any measure, the blow by blow account of progress made on the delivery of a better life for all, as presented by President Jacob Zuma in the 2012 State of the Nation Address (SoNA). South Africa is on track to deliver on those key priorities we have singled out as part of our electoral mandate.
We welcome the national focus on massive public infrastructure development. In this regard, quality education and skilling are of paramount importance. As we said in July 2011 when we adopted the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) Accord on Basic Education (2011:4), with organised labour, business and community representatives:
“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.”
Despite challenges, there is progress in education. The system is more equitable and pro-poor than it was before 1994.
We have built a relatively stable schooling system that has extended the right to basic education to over 12 million learners in about 24 365 public schools and 1 486 private schools. Currently, we employ no less than 365 447 educators.
Current achievements show exceptional delivery on Section 29 of the Constitution and a progressive shift towards a social reality wherein “everyone has the right to a basic education”.
Three years ahead of the 2015 target, we’re set to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals on expanding access to education. As the President has reported, we have doubled Grade R enrolment from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000 in 2011.
More young South Africans are completing Grade 9, from 80% in 2003 to 88% in 2010, and more, as you know, are now completing Grade 12.
The percentage of Grade 12 learners who qualified for Bachelor’s studies has now increased to 24.3% placing us in good stead to meet the target of 175 000 set for 2014. It was 23.5% in 2010, 19.9% in 2009, and 20.1% in 2008.
Free schooling and school meals are central to our pro-poor policies, to maximise access and roll back poverty.
Currently, over 8 million learners in over 80% of public schools benefit from the no-fee school policy. Over 90% of schools in Limpopo, Free State and the Eastern Cape are no-fee schools.
As the President has acknowledged, we have achieved a lot in dialogue with teacher unions. The Triple T of Teachers, Textbooks and Time, on which the President called for focus in 2011, will benefit from well-informed and well-prepared teachers. We are already implementing the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development.
We are also using specialist teams comprising our best teachers and educators from Higher Education Institutions and NGOs to ensure quality teacher development.
We will turn the Teacher Laptop Initiative into an effective tool for entrenching Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in teaching and learning, in line with the White Paper on e-Education. There were challenges in the initial roll-out which we are ironing out in consultation with unions. An announcement will soon be made.
A process is underway at the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) to simplify and streamline the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS). Honourable members would know that this is the system we currently use to evaluate educators’ performance, as agreed at the ELRC in 2003.
Once agreed, another instrument – the Teacher Performance Appraisal – will replace the existing IQMS.
Processes are being finalised to evaluate principals and deputy principals. This would inaugurate a new era of performance agreements, accountability, sound school management and the accruing benefits of quality teaching and proper use of time.
We have published for public comment the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit Bill (NEEDU Bill). The closing date for comments is Friday, 17 February 2012.
Honourable members will recall that in 2011 we completed the curriculum review process. At the heart of this has been the need to promote and improve curriculum implementation and learning outcomes. This year, the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) are being introduced in Grades 1 to 3 and 10. We’ve trained teachers and developed learning support materials for successful rollout.
We will support and monitor implementation. And this we’re capable of doing. In 2011, we provided targeted intervention in all underperforming schools, with 4612 visited by the end of the 2nd quarter of 2011.
We have made progress on the provision of learning and teaching support materials. In 2011, we provided high-quality workbooks to around 6 million learners. Some 24 million books were provided in all South African languages.
We have pleasure to announce that the national workbook programme has been extended from Grades 1 to 6 to Grades 7, 8 and 9 this year. 54 million books are being distributed to learners, free of charge.
The 2012 State of the Nation Address was spot-on on the matter of infrastructure. It is one of the formidable constraints that are making it the harder to deliver on the mandate of providing educational services to the nation’s children in an environment that is conducive for learning.
Behind the compromise of the right of children to learn in a favourable atmosphere, with adequate classrooms, libraries, laboratories, fencing, electricity, water and sanitation, lies the mammoth task of building the necessary infrastructure and resolving the backlog we have inherited.
About 1 700 schools are still without water supply and around 700 have no toilets. We have an estimated short fall of 63 000 classrooms and 15 000 schools are without libraries. Moreover, we still have schools built entirely of mud.
We have conducted a study that has demonstrated the enormity of this challenge. It will enrich our efforts to resolve the problems of overcrowding and shortage of spaces. At the current rate of provisioning, our targets would only be achievable in twenty years or so.
Our aim, which stands to benefit from the country’s focus on infrastructure development, is to accelerate the delivery of school infrastructure and furniture, eliminate backlogs, and bring all public schools to optimum functionality.
Addressing school infrastructure and providing a productive environment for learning and teaching will go a long way in creating a professional working environment for educators and help in elevating the status and dignity of teaching.
And thus we welcome this national focus on infrastructure development as a most timely and strategic intervention for basic education, for skills development, for job-creation and for stimulating the economy. It is in this way that our developmental state can best attain the goals we have set out in the New Growth Path (NGP) and the National Development Plan (NDP).
There is progress since we started implementing the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). In the 2011/12 financial year, we provided 1 648 classrooms; 316 sanitation blocks; water to 63 schools; electricity to 540 and fencing to 96 schools. In this period, 7 new schools were built.
From 2000 to date, 1 206 new schools have been built; 38 664 additional classrooms; water has been provided to 5 214; electricity to 2 847 schools; fencing to 2 655 schools; sanitation to 10 621 schools and 28 805 toilet seats.
Currently, contractors have been appointed for the construction of 49 schools in Lusikisiki, Libode and Umtata regions. They have 7 months to complete all 49 schools. Contractors have also been appointed for the provision of water and sanitation to 88 schools in the Eastern Cape and 78 in Limpopo.
KwaZulu-Natal has started implementing 88 projects of which forty eight are in construction stage. Other provinces are also engaged in school infrastructure projects, including Gauteng and the Free State.
Infrastructure projects have the potential to create a ready market for the absorption of learners registered in and graduates from Further Education and Training, particularly with regard to work exposure opportunities and internships.
Strengthening the coordination of information on the pipeline of projects between various government departments, particularly those that produce skills and those that oversee the construction of major infrastructural projects, will help create a value chain of skills supply coupled with workplace-based training for Further Education and Training (FET) College learners.
In line with the imperative to make education a societal issue, we have prioritised the March 2012 School Governing Body (SGB) elections. I take this opportunity to invite Members and our people to play an active role in making this process a success.
As you know, we have maintained a consistent increase in the pass rate, a positive development that the President also highlighted. The pass rate now stands at 70.2%, from 67.8% in 2010 and 60.6% in 2009. And there’s no reason, whatsoever, why we can’t take it up to 75% this year.
This I must underscore. The 70.2% is a true reflection of the performance of the Class of 2011. It is an achievement we should all welcome and be proud of as a serious nation truly committed to skills development and economic growth.
Umalusi pronounced the 2011 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations fair, valid and credible. All processes met the required standards. The Star newspaper (28 December 2011) also reported that experts found that the “matric papers were fair”.
We’re concerned about Mathematics and Physical Science, particularly given the specialised and technical skills our country needs for the drive towards industrialisation, economic growth and sustainable job creation. We have a strategy in place designed to improve the results.
For the interest of honourable members and our people, I must clarify this matter of minimum requirements to obtain a National Senior Certificate.
These are “minimum” and not mandatory for all learners to perform at this level.
A sober comparison and assessment of our requirements now in the NSC compared with the Senior Certificate (SC) show clearly that our standards have not dropped but improved. Let me illustrate:
- The NSC requires a seven subject offering, SC only six.
- Mathematics or Maths Literacy and Life Orientation are compulsory; these were not before.
- Candidate could pass the SC with a converted pass of 25%, provided an aggregate of 720 was obtained. The aggregate was made redundant in the NSC with the specific requirement of 3 subjects at 30% and 3 at 40%.
- Admission to bachelors in the SC required a pass of 4 subjects at 40% and 2 subjects at 33.3%. By contrast, admission to bachelors in the NSC requires 4 subjects at 50% and the remaining subjects at 30%, (home language must be at 40%).
- All subjects offered for the NSC are at one level which is equivalent to the Higher Grade.
We are aware that quality and efficiency remain areas of concern, and that is why we’re focusing on the quality of passes. We are using the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025 to up our performance, ensuring that the value-chain through which the system is expected to deliver quality learning and teaching is working optimally.
We have initiated a process of linking the Action Plan to Provincial Annual Performance Plans for better alignment, with detailed attention to 2012/13, and the rest of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
We have a national strategy for improving literacy and numeracy. It will help us improve school performance and the learners’ ability to read, write and calculate.
Through this strategy, we hope to address weaknesses shown by Annual National Assessments (ANA) 2011 and to tackle other deficiencies, including in areas of resources management, school and district management, accountability and monitoring.
Our Planning & Delivery Oversight Unit will support districts, particularly low performing districts. With provinces it will assist in developing credible plans for school improvement.
In line with the Planning Commission’s proposals on improving school functionality, we will send teams to the 15 districts that performed under 60% – 11 in the Eastern Cape, 1 each in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.
Working with provinces, we are hard at work to restore stability and service delivery in those provinces that are under Section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution – Eastern Cape and Limpopo.
Regarding Limpopo, we are grateful for improvements in the last two years, in NSC results. We are working hard to ensure that this good work they are doing is not hampered by current financial and supply chain management problems.
Regarding the Eastern Cape, we are deeply concerned about poor learner outcomes. As the President has said, we are attending to that situation, and have enlisted the support of partners to turn the situation around.
Lastly, we are devoting more time and energy to stakeholder mobilisation which is one of the major pillars of our education reform strategy. Here we are guided by the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign and are using as a rallying point the NEDLAC Accord on Basic Education and Partnership with Schools. All persons in South Africa should support the ‘Adopt a School Campaign’.
We commit once more to the nation that our approach of business unusual will continue into 2012 and beyond. Working together we can do more to improve quality of basic education. Don’t point fingers, raise them up for education!
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
15 Feb 2012
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