Council of Education Ministers (CEM) Media Statement by Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, Pretoria
14 Jun 2012
Deputy Minister Enver Surty,
Director-General, G Bobby Soobrayan,
Senior Managers of Department of Basic Education and Provincial Heads of Departments,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for honouring our invitation to update the nation on the state of education in our country. Due to the lengthy agenda, we delayed you here, our sincere apologies. In recent weeks various media publications and institutions have carried stories about the state of education in our country. Today’s briefing is intended to respond fully to such stories.
This morning, we held a scheduled Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to deliberate on various education matters. We will also outline the key agenda items for discussions. Hopefully by Monday, our communication team will release a statement on some of the resolutions reached.
Let me start by giving you a perspective and background of the situation in Limpopo, and then highlight the great strides we have made since we took over the provincial education department through section (100) (1)(b) of the Constitution.
The DBE took over the administration of the Limpopo Education Department in December 2011, after the department experienced systemic and management lapses. Some of the challenges we had to confront include:
- the bloated personnel against a very lean provincial budget;
- teachers declared in excess but not moved to another school;
- financial management, especially the over-expenditure on compensation of educators; accruals; unauthorised expenditure; and an inability to fund key strategic educational priorities, for instance;
- inadequate funds to procure and deliver learning and teaching support materials (LTSM), especially textbooks and stationery for the 2012 school calendar;
- inadequate funds to effect allocations and transfers to schools;
- challenges with the introduction of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) for the 2012 school calendar year due to educators not trained, and CAPS textbooks not procured; and
- funding constraints.
To ensure that the basic rights to education of learners in Limpopo are not infringed upon, I directed my intervention team to focus on the latter four areas. Working together with the other national intervention teams, the MEC for Education in Limpopo, and the administrative leadership of the Limpopo Department of Education, we have, thus far, managed the following:
(a) to reactivate the learner/scholar transport programme for deserving schools;
(b) to train educators (including office-based educators) on the implementation of CAPS. The training is ongoing, including that for the implementation of CAPS to Grades 4, 5, 6, and 11 in the 2013 school calendar year;
(c) to transfer more than R500 million to schools, including schools for learners with educational needs; and (d) to procure CAPS textbooks for Grades 1, 2, 3 and 10, and top-ups for Grades 11 and 12 directly from publishers at a reasonable price of R126 million. This signifies that the centralised procurement model has saved the Limpopo Department of Education a lot of money, which can now be used to deliver other essential programmes in that provincial education department.
As we speak, textbooks are being delivered to the central warehouse in Polokwane. Warehouse staff has been burning the midnight oil to ensure that we meet the agreed to court deadline. By this past Monday 11 June 2012, trucks from the Districts had started moving textbooks consignments to the district warehouses and the schools. We are therefore in time to meet the deadline for delivery to all schools by tomorrow.
The matter concerning the Selowe Primary school dubbed the “tree school” in the Silvermine village has been resolved. MEC Masemola is here to elaborate if necessary.
In terms of the Eastern Cape, we have taken note of the sit in staged by members of SADTU. A team led by our DG has held meaningful discussions to resolve the impasse. We remain hopeful that all matters related to the post-provisioning will be resolved. I am informed that an ELRC resolution has been signed by the Eastern Cape department and the organised teacher unions. It is within this context that we believe that the case by the Legal Resource Centre may be resolved outside courts.
The department has recently experienced a spate of litigation. A case that has received extensive media coverage was Section 27 v Minister of Basic Education. Here Section 27 had applied for an order that textbooks be delivered to Grade 10 and Foundation Phase learners.
It is unfortunate that this matter went to court as the department had engaged with the applicant in order to settle the matter out of court.
New Generation publishers took to court two weeks ago to seek an interim interdict to stop the department from releasing reports to publishers pertaining to the Grade 11 Accounting English textbook, and that the textbooks for Grade 11 Accounting not be included in the National Catalogue pending the finalization of the case. The main dispute was the disqualification of their textbook, due to flouting our requirement not to include the authors’ or the publishers’ name on the submission. The rationale behind this requirement was to prevent any form of bias on the part of screeners.
We are opposing the matter since we are under an obligation to ensure that all publishers comply with the terms of reference we issued. I cannot comment further on this matter as it is also still sub-judice.
The matter brought to court by a service provider in Limpopo in terms of a current contract has been postponed to later this month. It relates to their attempt to prevent us from delivering textbooks to schools in Limpopo. An association of publishers has also filed papers in court challenging our decision to centrally procure textbooks in Limpopo, rather than allowing schools to do so. The matters are still in the courts and our legal teams will advise me in due course.
Recapitalisation of technical schools
In terms of the Recapitalisation of Technical Schools, we are pleased to announce that in the last financial year we were allocated R210,518 million and we have managed to spend R151,769 million leading to 72% utilisation. We also held a meeting recently with all principals from technical schools and the department is implementing the resolutions of the meeting.
In addition to the positive work we are doing, it gives me great pleasure to announce that on 9 March 2012, our department and the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) jointly signed an Intergovernmental Protocol Agreement.
This Protocol Agreement has paved the way for strengthening collaboration on improved service delivery, particularly for school-going children.
This development is a culmination of a three year process that had been sparked by a Cabinet decision calling for stronger monitoring of young people who receive grants, so as to ensure they attend school regularly.
DBE has taken a lead role in fostering this relationship in the interest of mutual cooperation, support and assistance with regard to sharing of information and best practices in combating poverty, improving educational outcomes and rendering social services to orphaned and vulnerable learners.
We will provide learner data, DSD psycho-social assistance and ECD information, while SASSA will attend to social grant-related issues.
We need to intensify our work in the key priority areas we have identified and communicate accordingly. It is one thing to deliver on our mandate, and another thing to be seen to be delivering on our mandate.
These matters are also addressed strategically in our plans, ranging from improving performance in ECD, literacy and numeracy, maths and science, CAPS implementation, workbooks roll-out, assessments and infrastructure.
Preparations are underway for the Maths and Science indaba that we have announced at the last Council meeting and during our Budget Vote Debate last month.
We are soliciting active involvement and buy-in from key education partners and stakeholders just so we can reinforce our plan on Maths, Science & Technology and strengthen implementation.
Learner teaching support material (LTSM)
The goal of one book per child for every subject should continue to inform our current approach to LTSM and central procurement of books.
This goal would be better advanced were we to achieve a nationally-integrated LTSM procurement system which would ensure significant economies of scale, cost-effectiveness and quality of material.
This will indeed help in expanding access to textbooks for effective curriculum delivery.
Annual national assessment (ANA)
Our preparations for the 2012 administration of Annual National Assessments are well under way. More important with ANA is to ensure proper teaching and learning take place to help learners acquire the necessary skills and knowledge that we want to assess as indicators of our goal of quality basic education.
Council of Education Ministers (CEM) agenda
Following the meeting I had with King Makhosoke II, of the Ndebele nation last week Friday, to share the initiative that is implemented in his constituency, to improve numeracy and literacy, today we have invited the team he is working with to share with CEM this best practice. On behalf of the other MECs I want to congratulate the King for the initiative.
We encourage other traditional, religious leaders and business to partner with us to improve the quality of our education.
In our agenda, we are scheduled to discuss and finalise the following issues:
- Central Procurement of Textbooks
- School Infrastructure Delivery
- 94+ Projects for Madiba Campaign
- Competency Tests for markers for the National Senior Certificate NSC examinations
Reports from officials show progress on teacher development. After months of fruitful discussions, we are pleased to announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on teacher development, with teacher unions, today. A signing ceremony will take place immediately after this media briefing. We wish to thank the organised teacher unions as well as our officials for reaching consensus in collaborating to promote teacher development.
I thank you!
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
14 Jun 2012
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