Statement by Minister of Education, N Pandor, MP, at the GCIS Parliamentary Media briefings
14 February 2005
A rapidly changing labour market has necessitated the reshaping and realignment of skills and competencies of graduates from education institutions.
Curriculum reforms and institutional transformation at FET and HE institutions in recent years have been geared towards ensuring that learners and students are equipped with skills they need to become economically and socially active citizens. The Annual FET Conferences, the latest of which was held in November 2004, have brought business and employers closer to education partners to improve the relevance of FET College programmes for better articulation with the needs of the labour market. In addition to this, the growth in the uptake of learnerships has been particularly encouraging in the light of the collaboration between the Department of Labour and Education around the National Skills Development Strategy implementation.
1. Revival of the Human Resource Development Strategy
The January cabinet lekgotla mandated the urgent revival of the human resource strategy. The aim of the renewal of the human resource development strategy is to ensure integrated human resource development planning and implementation, monitored on a national, regional and sectoral level, with progress measured against approved indicators.
2. Skills development programme reform: SETAS and FET colleges
There will be a massive campaign to reform further education and training programmes to reinforce the institutional reform project started in our public further education and training colleges. This will involve better matching of the requirements of SETAs and the employers they represent with public institutions providing further education and training.
The recapitalisation of FET colleges remains a priority to ensure the best articulation of our national skills strategy with the programmes provided by colleges. The recapitalisation will also require investment from the private sector and business.
Higher Education programmes are being shaped increasingly through the funding formula and through the human resource development requirements of the country and access to programmes for scarce skills areas is receiving attention. The areas of teaching, science and technology have been identified for improved enrolment. Student assistance schemes will be refined and aligned to national development needs so as to address urgent skills requirements.
3. Improving participation and quality in Mathematics and Science
In recognition of one of the leading maths and science teachers in our country, Mr OR Tambo, a trust fund will be established and supported by interested partners and friends of education in honour of Mr Tambo. The trust fund will be named after this great teacher, and will be used initially to fund, resource and equip those institutions that contribute to producing learners and graduates in mathematics and science under difficult circumstances. Laboratories and other infrastructure, through this fund, will be provided for such institutions starting with the 102 Dinaledi schools for mathematics and science.
We will also be undertaking a strengthening of our national maths and science strategy and an audit of the performance of the Dinaledi schools.
We have undertaken to pay teachers in subjects like maths and science more and there will be further information available on this in the budget.
4. Improving Technology in education
Centres of excellence for technology in education will be developed so as to improve the utilisation of ICTs in all aspects of the education enterprise. These centres will be located in FET institutions that will be identified by the Departments of Education and Communication. These centres of excellence will isolate best practice, develop materials and pilot and adapt technology which exists for application in the South African context. Already, the collaboration between the Departments of Communications and Education has yielded fruit in the reduction of Internet and telephone tariffs by 50% for schools, and it is envisaged that centres of excellence for technology in education would enable the digital divide to be narrowed for South African learners.
5. Implementation of Curriculum 2005 at FET level from 2006
The implementation of the FET Curriculum in 2006 will complete the circle of transformation of the schools curriculum. The preparation for this is already far advanced. A national core task team comprising curriculum specialists and officials from all provinces are ready to embark on an intensive training of teachers, principal and school governing bodies in the first half of 2005. This is an initiative that has received and will receive continued attention to ensure its successful implementation.
6. National Student Financial Assistance Scheme
Over the past 10 years NSFAS has assisted more than 400 000 students with awards amounting to over R5 billion. During 2005 it is expected that at least 100 000 of the most needy students at public higher education institutions will be assisted with awards ranging from as little as R2 000 to as much as R30 000 per student depending on need that is determined through a national means test.
Last year over R200 million was paid back by past students and made available to future students. This raises the prospect that the scheme could become self reproducing in the future.
7. Mechanisms for tracking output, outcome and impact of education programmes
The Department has established systems and databases (including the Education Management Information System) that are used for monitoring output, outcome and impact. Specifically, these systems are being refined to ensure that they provide a cross-linked set of information on different aspects of education institutions. When fully elaborated, these systems will assist to enable the tracking of whether the poor get a larger share of state resources as a result of poverty targeting. The frequent amalgamation of information from the infrastructure databases such as the School Register of Needs, Examinations and Assessment databases, Personnel databases, socio-economic and funding information provide the opportunity for better tracking of provision of education, of developments in education institutions, and in the quality of education that is provided across the country.
8. Education Summit in Durban
From 10 – 12 March an Education Summit will be held at the Durban International Convention Centre. There an action plan for the next ten years will be developed that will place education at the heart of our strategy for growth and development.
Issued by: Ministry of Education
14 February 2005