Address by Free State MEC for Education, Honourable PHI Makgoe, at the official opening of Lemotso Primary School, Welkom
22 May 2010
Executive Major of Lejweleputswa district municipality
Superintendent–General for Education
Senior and broad management
Learner Representative Council (LRC) members
Members of the school governing bodies (SGBs)
Ladies and gentlemen
Programme director, it is once more a pleasure for me to have another opportunity to officially open new school facilities. Let me take this opportunity to thank everybody for being part of this phase of our school infrastructure development initiative, and I hope this new facilities will rejuvenate everybody's quest at this school, to realise our envisaged quality education for sustainable development in our province.
Our province is experiencing a high learner influx from other provinces, as well as from our neighbouring country of Lesotho. This results in classroom overcrowding in our schools.
Classroom overcrowding not only frustrates educators who find it very hard to apply a one-on-one teaching and learning technique, as a result of imbalanced teacher and learner classroom ratio. This is putting a strain on our provincial education system, and results in a high demand for new schools.
The unveiling of the plaque and the official opening of this school is one of a number of similar projects taking place around the province, as part of our 2009/10 to 2014/15 school infrastructure development plan.
More modern and technically equipped schools will be built, which will match up with the world's economic landscape that is constantly changing. We need to continue to look beyond our traditional education boundaries, and seek to expand into new frontiers in the global educational trends.
Programme director, the building of new schools will help us among other things to eliminate the platooning problems which deprive our children of the opportunity to receive quality education, as we intend to sustain in our province.
In response, we have entered into a developmental relationship with the private sector, through our public private partnership (PPP) initiative. This initiative is further helping us in the delivery of the most needed infrastructure to eliminate platooning and overcrowding in our schools.
Another important partnership in our quest to delivering the most needed school infrastructure is the one between school governing bodies and the community. This partnership is very important in controlling, protecting and maintenance of the schools' property and the general promotion of the best interests of the school. This brings in our minds the question of safety at our schools.
Schools, programme director are traditionally community owned structures, where many different kinds of community activities take place, apart from normal schooling activities. These community activities include community meetings, sport programmes and so on.
However, some of these activities, especially sport, could make the school vulnerable to atrocities such as vandalism, facility misuse and theft. This is where our schools should consider organising community partnerships which will allow for a shared responsibility for sustaining the quality, lifespan and durability of the school buildings, laboratories, libraries, halls, technical equipment, sports facilities as well as the school enclosure.
In order to achieve this, the Free State Department of Education is aligning itself with the principles of the national school safety policy and expects schools to do the same.
* affirms the right of all school community members to feel safe at schools
* promotes care, respect and cooperation, and it values diversity
* Implements policies, programmes and processes to nurture a safe, caring and child friendly environment
* recognises that quality leadership is an essential element that underpins the creation of a safe, caring and child friendly school environment
* ensures that roles and responsibilities of all members of the school community in promoting safe, caring and child friendly schools are explicit, clearly understood and disseminated
* recognises the responsibility to provide opportunities for learners to learn through the formal curriculum, the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed for positive relationships.
Programme director, the official opening of Lemotso Primary School happens at the right time, when we are busy campaigning for the implementation of the provincial strategy on learner attainment (PSLA).
With this strategic initiative, we intend to direct the focus of the education system in the Free State on continuous improvement with regard to learner attainment in the national senior certificate examinations.
This focused approach on improvement of grade 12 results does however not suggest that interventions and attention to the rest of the system would be neglected.
The strategy provides a holistic intervention to improve the quality of teaching and learning, the improvement of management, leadership and governance at schools in order to ultimately improve learner attainment or results.
It makes provision for overall support to school management teams (SMTs), teachers and learners by all sections within the department. The focus will be on schools that achieved a pass rate of below 60 percent in the 2009 grade 12 final examinations.
Structured programmes are in place to ensure that schools share expertise and best practices through twining, as well as mentoring and coaching by experts, through classroom demonstrations and observations.
Further support to teachers and learners at these underperforming schools will be provided in the form of Curriculum support sessions, supplementary tuition for grade 12 learners in the form of Saturday and holiday classes, and the provision of digital video disc (DVDs) to schools, containing examination question papers and memoranda of all national senior certificate subjects; as well as a per question analysis of national senior certificate 2009 examination results, in order to allow educators to focus on problem areas observed.
Programme director, I am very delighted by the opening of Lemotso Primary School. Facilities like this are ideal for our desire to produce more graduates in the fields of science, engineering and technology. They will allow our education system to produce quality outcomes, particularly with regard to the rate of high school passes in English, mathematics, science, technology and accounting.
Consistent with the 2009 to 14 medium term strategic framework (MTSF) priorities and the Operation Hlasela as the defining programme of action for the Free State government in the medium term, we identified performance improvement in mathematics and science as our key focus areas.
To this end, English, mathematics, science, technology and accounting strategy was developed that would seek to achieve the following three broad strategic goals:
* Increasing the participation and performance rate in English, mathematics, science and accounting, with special emphasis on learner attainment and increasing endorsements
* Increasing the participation and performance of black learners, particularly those who are taking mathematics and science and following careers within mathematics and science fields
* Strengthening and enhancing the capacity of educators to deliver quality English, mathematics, science and accounting instruction in the classroom.
Before I conclude programme director, I want to point out that SA Mokgothu Primary School is part of the "Eradication of 15 Platooning Schools Project", which is a pioneer project by the Honourable Premier of the Free State province, Mr Ace Magashule.
We have already officially opened two schools in this series: Mehopung Primary School in Ficksburg and Kgabareng Secondary School in Viljoenskroon. The two we are opening today: Lemotso Primary in Welkom and SA Mokgothu Primary in Allanridge bring the number to four, something that shows that our pace is now gaining a remarkable momentum.
As I mentioned earlier, we need more modern and technically equipped schools in order for us to be able to leap into new frontiers in the global educational trends. This school and others we have already opened significantly denotes our progress.
All the equipments which are needed for a modern school are available here, namely the media centre and a library, as well as laboratories which will cater for science and biology experimental activities. These are just a few of the amenities that are found at this ultra-modern school and programme director, this is without any doubt, a mile stone for our department.
Programme director let me acknowledge the people, who worked so hard to make sure that the building of this school becomes a success. Special accolades to the district management, SGB of the SA Mokgothu Primary School, the principal, educators, as well as the contractors who completed the work according to expectations and handed over the keys on stipulated time.
Thank you all for your collective effort. Together we can do more.
Let us all hold hands and work together for the future of the children of this province.
I thank you!
Issued by: Free State Education
22 May 2010
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