Address at the Consultative conference of the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGBs) by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education in Johannesburg
3 Nov 2012
NASGB President, Mr Elphus Maseko
NASGB Secretary, Mr Matakanye Matakanye
Chairperson of Kagiso Trust, Dean Zwo Nevhutalu
Representative of Business, Mr Sizwe Nxasana
Representatives of our progressive forces
Representatives of organised labour
Comrades and friends,
Thank you for inviting me to this forum aimed at strengthening an important pillar of the education system. For me this consultative conference is a beginning of a critical process of revitalising the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB). With a membership estimate of around 7000 schools, it is crucial that the NASGB be better organised and better capacitated.
It would have been a missed opportunity for us to emerge out of this three day conference empty-handed. We can’t leave with no clear vehicle for strengthening school governance for quality education for all.
The public schools you represent are the most hard-hit by the legacy of apartheid. Thus there is a need for this intervention to succeed strategically to position your association as a champion of the poorest of the poor and the workers who’ve been ravaged, from time immemorial, by abject poverty, inequality and joblessness.
I’m grateful to all progressive forces of this country for being here, and for rallying around support for the NASGB in the very spirit of the mass democratic movement that had brought the apartheid regime to the negotiating table with its tail between its hind legs.
We need a strong association with a capacity to support School Governing Body (SGBs) in their difficult task of promoting the best interests of schools and their development and providing support to educators and the principals in carrying out their duties, as required by the SA Schools Act.
Though difficult it is to recognise everybody, I know our movement, the African National Congress, is represented, the South African Communist Party, Congress of South African Trade Unions , Business Unity South Africa, other formations and broader civil society.
Dean Zwo Nevhutalu, in spite of a July 2012 interview you did with Glenn Lewington, on Classic FM, in which you conceded the global crisis has been very devastating on the non-profit sector, Kagiso Trust has been a driving force behind the success of this conference.
Thank you! We’re very grateful for the technical and other support you extended to the NASGB. It shows commitment to community development and confidence in the future of our beloved republic. This is what South Africa needs. Less whining and less moaning. More action. Working together. Building a prosperous and better society for our children.
The South African Schools Act rightly says: “Schools will be improved only through the joint efforts of parents, educators, learners, members of their local communities and various education departments.” The economic hard times you spoke of are still with us with the looming threat of escalating levels of unemployment and hunger.
In a time like now, it is important to strengthen school governance, ensuring parents play an active role in giving our children quality education. This is important if we’re to guarantee there’s a teacher, in each class, teaching, at least seven hours a day.
It’s a pity we’re meeting here today to say what is it we’re going to do together to strengthen the association. I wish we were meeting here to respond to Census 2011, which shows remarkable gains of democracy as well as challenges and opportunities. We should be saying how as parents we’re going to help tackle the movement of our people, including learners, from rural and poor communities to more affluent provinces like Gauteng.
While we’re happy that our people are getting more education and we’re winning the fight against illiteracy, we should be saying how we’re going to ensure as parents that every citizen goes to school. Census 2011 shows 8.6% of the population is without education. But, on the positive side, it also shows that by 2011, 28.4% of the population had completed Grade 12, compared to 20.4% in 2001.
We’re here precisely because we know the challenges. We take you seriously. We want results. We want to turn schools around, we want better results, and good rankings internationally. We pushed for all-round induction of new SGB members after the successful nationwide elections of March conscious of the fact that better skilled and highly capacitated SGB members are key to the revival of the culture of learning and teaching in our schools.
Better functioning SGBs, and associations, will help fully to implement the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) and the NEDLAC Accord on Basic Education and Partnership with Schools.
All provinces have confirmed that induction sessions were held with the new SGBs on their role and responsibilities. In Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape, North West and the Northern Cape, training was provided in areas like financial management, QLTC, legislation and policy orientation, learner discipline, conducting interviews and conducting meetings.
If you were to ask: ‘by when do I want to see progress?,’ I would have said: ‘by yesterday’. But clearly, it will not happen without a strong, organised and powerful voice of major shareholders in education.
It does our country no good when we receive low marks consistently. We get worried when we’re ranked, by among others, the World Economic Forum’s annual report on financial development, at the bottom of class in maths and science.
We are attending to this matter and are in fact currently coordinating a Maths and Science Summit for this year. This multi-stakeholder summit will look at how to improve performance in this area and how to get more learners to take science and maths at school. Getting today’s process right is critical because your contribution is of paramount importance in this regard.
We have made a number of key strategic interventions. First we produced as a sector a long-term strategy for education – Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025. It should guide our transformation agenda and provide specific outcomes and targets. All along we were using the National Senior Certificate examinations to measure the performance of the system. We are now leveraging also the nationwide Annual National Assessments and are using them as a diagnostic tool. This year, around 7 million learners took these tests that should help us measure their skills in literacy and numeracy.
Parents have a role to play in ensuring we make effective use of Annual National Assessments (ANA). By now, many parents would have received feedback on their children’s performance in ANA and would therefore be better informed in terms of where to assist children and on which areas to engage their schools and teachers. The roll-out of revised Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) is on course. For 2013, we’re moving to Grades 4-6 and 11. The introduction of the revised CAPS this year in Grades 1-3 and 10 went fairly smooth, supported by provision of textbooks and workbooks. Our goal is to have a book for each child in each subject.
In this regard, you would know the serious challenge we encountered in Limpopo with books not delivered in time. We have put mechanisms in place to ensure this is not repeated in 2013 and provinces have already made orders for 2013.
There is also movement in accelerating school infrastructure. Over 3 years, our plan is to eradicate 496 inappropriate structures, provide water to 1257 schools, electricity to 878 schools, and basic sanitation to 868 schools. For this we’re spending R8.2 billion. And clearly, there is progress. On 2 October, with President Jacob Zuma, we launched 49 new schools in the Eastern Cape as part of the National School Built Programme and the DBE-driven Accelerated School Infrastructure Development Initiative.
These interventions will yield fruit to the extent that schools are functional and there obtains healthy levels of the culture of learning and teaching in our schools. And I believe, there’s a close correlation between performance of a school and the ability of its governing body.
We need a solid partnership with major stakeholders in education, including teachers, parents and learners. Our teacher unions are up to the challenge. South African Democratic Teacher's Union (SADTU) has come up with an innovative in-service training for teachers – Assessment for Learning – that has been provided, in its first round, in all nine provinces. SADTU’s welcome initiative advances our efforts in teacher development, which is one of our flagship programmes.
Educational demands are many and diverse. In a nutshell, they range from teacher supply, infrastructure, water and sanitation, provision of scholar transport, nutrition, furniture, textbooks and stationery to the development of policies befitting a new democratic state. The census has reminded us that the majority of people in this country are black and are poor, therefore pro-poor policies are critical. You can appreciate that the complexity of this matter requires that we revive and strengthen our democratic structures.
On its part, and among other initiatives, the Department of Basic Education has established the National Consultative Forum, to facilitate formal negotiation, discussion and interaction with organisations representing governing bodies of public schools at national level. The forum was created to promote communication around national education issues affecting the interests of public schools in general, and the governance of public schools in particular. This should help our quest for strong partnerships in education, between the state and stakeholders in public schools, as represented by governing bodies.
I’m worried though about the level of engagement and participation in forum meetings, especially by associations that represent the historically disadvantaged. The more prepared and assertive we are, the better we will shape the agenda of the forum. The Department of Basic Education is committed to help build the capacity of SGB associations so that they can contribute meaningfully to the improvement of schooling in the country.
We’re quite aware of limited resources at your disposal. Accordingly we have amended national norms and standards for school funding to enable schools to pay membership to SGB associations. It is hoped that with this amendment provinces will begin funding associations from May 2013. Please familiarise yourselves with criteria and requirements for funding.
A strong NASGB will benefit the whole system. I therefore challenge you to grow your membership in all provinces. I trust that the commissions, and the entire conference, will provide a platform for conscious reflection and action that will help in shaping the future of the association.
If we do not embrace this “idea of a partnership between all people with an interest in education”, as spelt out in the South African Schools Act, then comrades, it would be a tall order to reverse perceptions about our country and its education system. I look forward to a revitalised National Association of SGBs for the sake of our children and for the sake of our country.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
3 Nov 2012
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