Briefings notes for the Human Development Cluster Programme of Action (PoA) media briefing by Minister of Ministers of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga
10 November 2009
Cluster Chair: Ms Angie Motshekga
Panellists: Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, and Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Enver Surty
Ladies and gentlemen
Members of the media
Welcome to this Human Development Cluster briefing on the progress on the implementation of Government’s Programme of Action for 2009/2010.
Just to put all of us at ease, the intention of the document is not to be too deep in detail but rather to raise briefly some of the salient areas of the work that we do as a cluster and Departments. Of course as media, you are free to pose your questions so that this exercise does indeed assist in informing the nation on the work that we are mandated to do.
This is the first report since the inception of the cluster under the new administration. This briefing seeks to provide an update on the priorities approved by the Cabinet and further outlined in the State of the Nation Address. As most of you in this room would know, the present administration has prioritised health and education in particular for the next five years and beyond. It is however important to note that the cluster is not only made up of these departments.
This report focuses on the implementation of cluster work from April to the present. In presenting the report, we will be focusing on the following key areas as they relate to the work of the departments that make up the cluster:
* strengthening the skills and human resource base
* improving the health profile of all South Africans
* building cohesive, caring and sustainable communities.
Strengthening the skills and human resource base
The government has prioritised the delivery of quality education for all South Africans. In the words of President Zuma “We want our teachers, learners and parents to work with government to turn our schools into thriving centres of excellence”. We continue to strengthen the quality learning and teaching campaign by ensuring the commitment of all role players to our goals. Education must become a societal issue.
We have taken the first steps in addressing the recommendations of the recently published Report on the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement by the ministerial task team that highlighted various challenges to quality curriculum delivery. We have responded quickly to the recommendations. Our focus is to strengthen curriculum delivery and thus we have identified those steps that can be taken immediately to streamline delivery and others that will take slightly longer to implement.
The changes that will take effect from January 2010 is firstly to simplify the administrative functions that teachers are responsible for and that do not have a major bearing on their teaching, and secondly to provide structured, systemic support to teachers. The changes are:
* discontinue the use of portfolios for learners of all grades from next year
* require only one file for administrative purposes from teachers from next year
* reduce the number of projects required by learners
* develop curriculum and assessment policy statements for each grade in each year for implementation in 2011
* reduce the number of learning areas in intermediate phase
* emphasise the use of English from as early as possible for the majority of our learners that use English as language of learning
* clarify the role of subject advisers.
To support the above, we will ensure that in 2010, the foundations for learning programme for foundation and intermediate phase (Grades R to 6) will be implemented in all schools in 2010. Extensive learning and teaching packs for grades R to 6 teachers have been developed that will assist teachers with planning, teaching and learning. These packs will be distributed to all primary schools for the start of the school year in January 2010. What can schools expect at the start of 2010?
For Grade R, all 13 900 schools will receive the laying solid foundations: resource pack in January 2010 The pack comprises:
* lesson plans for teachers for literacy, numeracy and life skills
* learners’ workbook
* learners’ resource book
* posters and story books
For Grades 1-3, all 19 600 schools will receive lesson plans for teachers and workbooks for learners for literacy and numeracy in January 2010 For Grades 4-6, all 19 600 schools will receive lesson plans for teachers and workbooks for learners for language and mathematics by the end of February 2010. In addition, we are committed to ensure that all children have access to learning materials. In response to this need, the Presidency has allocated R524 million in the 2009/10 financial year to ensure that learners in Grades 1 to 6 will receive workbooks for literacy and numeracy in 2010. In addition, guidelines for textbook acquisition and distribution and retrieval will be issued to all schools in 2010.
Government has intensified efforts in order to deliver an improved higher education and training system which will provide a diverse range of learning opportunities for youth and adults. This is in line with our theme this year, “together achieving and expanding quality and access to education and training for all”.
It has been agreed that while the Department of Higher Education and Training took over the skills development and training sector in government from 1 November 2009, the National Skills Development Strategy II and current sector education and training (SETA) licence will be extended by one year, from March 2010 to March 2011. Collaborative relationships will be developed and strengthened between the SETAs, the National Skills Fund, universities especially universities of technology and further education and training (FET) colleges in order to seek ways to release funds to grow the skills base.
In addition, the report of the ministerial committee reviewing the efficacy of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is due to be submitted in December. The report will provide an essential guide for government to assist a greater number of poor but capable students to enter the higher education system and complete their studies. The report will be released for public comment before implementation of the recommendations.
Government is concerned about the internal efficiency of universities, and about the relatively low success and high dropout rates. It is allocating special funds to institutions to help them to improve success and graduation rates, because of the importance of raising graduate totals in the interests of national social and economic development. All higher education institutions were requested to confirm and provide the necessary data and information for the determination of system wide and institutional specific enrolment and graduate output targets for the period 2011 to 2013. This data is being analyzed during this last quarter of 2009.
Government is determined to increase the number of young people and adults accessing continuing education at these technical and vocational centres, in a way that supports an inclusive growth path. In order to achieve this, Government has invested R1.9 billion over the last three years in the Further Education and Training (FET) College subsystem, and we are now taking steps to enhance access to these institutions and the quality of courses they provide. We will consolidate the institutional base for FET colleges in partnership with the skills development system and improve responsiveness to the needs of the economy. Programme offerings will be expanded, training partnerships with industry will be funded through SETAs, partnerships with employers will be established and a work-placement programme for graduates of FET colleges will be set up.
As part of our continued efforts to enable millions of adults to become literate and numerate in one of the eleven official languages, I am pleased to announce that by the end of 2009, South Africa will have an additional 620 000 newly literate people, drawn largely from vulnerable groups, as a result of the Kha ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign. Significantly, the Campaign enables adult learners, at no cost to them, to read, write and calculate in their mother tongue and also to learn spoken English. The specifically designed Campaign materials teach reading, writing and numeracy integrating themes and life skills such as health, gender, the environment and civic education.
These materials have also been adapted for use in Braille in eleven languages, and for use by the deaf. Classes are presented for 240 contact hours and are held in communities, at times which are convenient to the learners, and take place in homes, churches, community centres, prisons etc. These learning groups play a significant role in community social cohesion. The Campaign also plays a significant role in alleviating poverty by providing volunteers in the poorest communities with a small income. Of Kha Ri Gude’s R430 million allocation in 2009/10, 75% (or R325 million) will be paid out in the form of stipends to volunteers between June and November 2009. The volunteers are central to the Campaign and contribute not only to the teaching and learning process but also to ensuring advocacy, recruitment, monitoring and ensuring that the Campaign is a vibrant part of disadvantaged communities.
During the 2008/09 and 2009/10 financial years, the campaign has enabled 620 000 learners to become literate and has created approximately 75 000 short term teaching jobs. By drawing on the participation of a range of stakeholders, the Campaign is evidence that “together we can make a difference.”
We recognise the significance of access to information and its impact on the socio-economic conditions of our people. Since 2006, government has embarked on a programme to transform and expand the delivery of library and information services in the country to ensure free and open access for all citizens, including the visually impaired users. Libraries play a critical role in the promotion of literacy, positive family values and skills development. They reach out to both the parents and children and therefore are able to act as social hubs.
The programme has delivered new library facilities in Bushbuckridge, Hekpoort in Mogale City, Kamaqhekeza in Nkomazi Municipality, and Morokweng in North West province. Many more facilities are currently under construction as we are determined to create a culture of reading and writing. As part of the programme we are promoting the use of our indigenous languages by producing publications in all indigenous languages and making these available through community libraries.
Through a range of programmes our libraries have become community centres that are able to meet local information needs as well as nurture and support formal and informal education. The provision of internet facilities is part of the core responsibilities of libraries as one-stop information hubs supplying educational, health and business information to remote rural areas. We note with disappointment the destruction of libraries in Mpumalanga as part of the service delivery protests. These acts of vandalism undermine the efforts of our government to build caring and sustainable communities.
Improving the health profile of all South Africans
Health has been identified by this government as one of the main priorities for the next five years and beyond. A 10 point programme has been developed to guide in this journey. This 10 point programme will serve as a road map and our guardian angel towards improving the overall healthcare system and increasing access to health care while fighting the burden of disease that confronts us.
The various points on our 10 point plan have to be taken together because they simply cannot survive outside each other. None of them on their own will be able to change the healthcare system in any meaningful way outside the others. They are mutually inclusive. We will once more emphasise that we will implement them together and not necessarily individually one after the other. Indeed the National Health Insurance (NHI) is one part of the 10 point programme.
As has been announced by the Chair, the Minister of Health will be introducing the MAC on NHI immediately after this briefing. In his speech at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) recently the President instructed the Minister of Health to address the nation on the gory details of what he was talking about and this will be happening immediately.
In picking up the remaining points on the programme we wish to remind you of the statement made by the President in his State of the Nationa Address (SoNA) that we are worried by the deteriorating quality of care in our health system.
Point three of the 10 point programme is about improving the quality of healthcare services. In this case a unit has been set up in the department which will focus on five major issues to improve the quality of care. These are:
* safety and security of patients
* cleanliness of our institutions and infection control
* attitudes of staff as experienced by patients
* time taken in queues either before seeing a health worker or receiving medication
* availability of drugs.
We wish to assess, monitor and evaluate progress in our institutions using these five basic measures as a yardstick.
Taken together with the above, point four on our 10 point programme is about overhauling the healthcare system and improving its management. We believe that the whole healthcare system from primary through tertiary services right up to quaternary services will need a complete overhaul. That’s why when people analyse the costs of the NHI they base their analysis solely on the understanding that healthcare can only be curative. The whole system of Primary Healthcare (PHC), including what we regard as the cornerstone of any healthcare system which is prevention of diseases, have been relegated to the dustbins of history. Hence we have the outbreak of measles, cholera and other such pandemics which are largely preventable through immunisation, prevention and other local primary healthcare measures.
This whole system clearly needs an overhaul. In overhauling the healthcare system we are also going to focus on the management of our institutions, especially at the coalface of delivery, which is at the district, hospital and clinic level. In the next two weeks the Minister of Health will be meeting all the CEOs, clinical managers, nursing managers as well as district managers to outline the programme.
In this regard the focus will be on four major issues which seem to be very serious weaknesses in the system:
* financial management
* infrastructure and maintenance of facilities
* human resource management
* information and communications technology/information technology (ICT/IT).
These four are not only a problem at our districts and institutions, but they cut across the whole spectrum including provinces and national and hence the overhauling will have to take place across the spectrum.
Point five in our plan speaks about human resource (HR) planning, development and management. We are aware of the shortages of healthcare workers in our country. Three main issues will have to be looked at here:
* The whole spectrum of the training of nurses including the return of PHC nurses including clinic mid-wives. You are aware that we have embarked on the reopening of nursing colleges.
* The intake and training of medical students in universities.
* The training of mid-level health workers including task-shifting within institutions.
Regarding point six which talks about the infrastructure revitalisation, we wish to remind you that the President instructed during his State of the Nation Address (SoNA) that as a preparation for the NHI the Treasury and Department of Health (DOH) need to go on a massive public-private partnership (PPP) in order to have improved healthcare infrastructure.
Point nine which talks about the review of our drug policy: we are concentrating urgently on the whole procurement system. At the moment our main focus is on the procurement of antiretrovirals (ARVs).
The Cluster is also pleased to report that considerable headway has been made in encouraging South Africans to participate in some form of sporting activity. The links between sport and healthy lifestyles are well known. Since the beginning of the year, 1.1 million people have participated in sport and recreation mass participation programmes. Also through the Division of Revenue Act (DORA) grant-funded school sport mass participation programme which is implemented by the provincial departments of sport and recreation and monitored by the national department, 3 800 schools were empowered in terms of the provision of equipment, sports clothing, training (skills development) and a sports assistant. With regards to infrastructure, three community gyms were equipped.
Hundred and twenty junior athletes (under 17 girls and boys) were exposed to the high performance programme of the Department and went on to participate in the Confederation of Schools Sports Associations of Southern African (COSSASA) Games in Swaziland from 3 to 6 September 2009. This is the first of many such interventions in school sport. With the exception of one silver medal, South Africa ended up winning all gold medals at stake. South Africa participated in netball, football, volleyball and tennis.
Building cohesive, caring and sustainable communities
Government stands by its vision of an inclusive society, a South Africa that belongs to all, a nation united in its diversity, a people working together for the greater good of all. To this end, a social cohesion colloquium was organised recently in Durban in preparation for the National Conference on Social Cohesion to take place next year under the theme “building a caring society”. A broad group of participants representing all sectors of government and civil society deliberated on the topics that included Ubuntu and our humanity; poverty and access to economic opportunities; promotion of gender equity; social integration and building a caring nation. Delegates emphasised the need for a sense of belonging, changing mind-sets and nurturing ubuntu as well as the need for a national charter of values and the need to find practical solutions to problems of accumulation.
Government remains concerned about the state of transformation in higher education, as one of the obstacles towards achieving the vision of a society that embraces the principles of the Constitution. A summit of stakeholders in the higher education sector will be convened in the first quarter of 2010, which among other things will debate the state of transformation in higher education. All chairs of university councils have been requested to respond to the report of the Ministerial Committee on Transformation and Social Cohesion and the Elimination of Discrimination in Public Higher Education Institutions.
We continue to encourage schools to establish the Girls and Boys Education Movement (G/BEM) clubs. These are school based clubs made up of girls and boys who are committed to the promotion of human rights, dignity for all as well as mutual respect between girls and boys. In partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), we have engaged members of the G/BEM clubs in a successful seminar on teenage pregnancy. This allowed the learners to contribute to the drafting of the comprehensive strategy on preventing and managing teenage pregnancy. Sexual harassment guidelines for learners are planned and the G/BEM clubs will be a major vehicle for distributing these.
Government has also embarked on a community mass mobilisation campaign that seeks to galvanise and inspire communities to support the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Furthermore, the road shows seeks to ensure that more football fans are aware of the forthcoming tournament. In addition, municipalities are encouraged to begin legacy projects through the provision of facilities and capacitating of local sports people, who will drive sports development initiatives, so that football will grow. After the FIFA Confederations Cup, two such road shows were held in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal. A further road-show is planned for Mpumalanga in November while Western Cape and Northern Cape will be visited early in 2010.
Thank you very much.
Questions and answers
Journalist: To the Minister of Basic Education: the reviewing of the curriculum, that whole step is that government’s tested admission that outcomes-based education (OBE) didn’t work was a mistake and over the years that OBE has been implemented in classes. How much damage do you think it would have done to learning and teaching amongst youngsters now that it’s gone?
Journalist: It’s a question to the Health Minister: could you bring us up to speed on what works is currently going on around revising the treatment guidelines for HIV patients. Is the department planning to initiate treatments at a higher threshold and if so have you looked at the cost implications?
Journalist: To the Health Minister: I see here your whole overhaul of the health system - how different is this going to be to previous attempts to change the system. And when are we going to see this thing come into place and how long will the whole process [be] taking?
Angie Motshekga: Let me start by admitting that the process of overseeing the implementation of OBE was not fully done and it obviously had some consequences from the presentations of teachers. We seem to say that the whole thing which was set out as a curriculum was wrong; we can’t say everything that we have said was wrong. What forms your curriculum is the principles of the constitution to say a citizenry where everybody belongs, so those are the things that forms your curriculum and those are things we would have stated as principles in the curriculum which up to now and all of us are agreeing that the principles remain correct. The principles of that which constitutes a curriculum, and I hope members of the media will be patient with us because I think it’s very important to clarify this thing once and for all.
When you form a curriculum it’s like really putting a framework of a house - you put in what shape what structure and what would be the principles that forms the house. We then identified those principles as outcomes that would train our kids to have problem solving skills, analytical skills, to have critical skills - those would be the principles that you put out in your curriculum. What we didn’t do that came out in the review is to go a step further to articulate and clarify those outcomes and that was the weakest point and the review confirmed that to say after stating the principles, we didn’t go deeper to clarify how to achieve those outcomes.
That is why we are saying the review will state clearly these are the steps you have to follow, to say this should be your aims, this should you be your objectives, this should be your steps; so that’s what we are going to be doing. Again in setting up the framework we had unintended consequences, then there was overloading of assessments, that there were too many assessments that we put into that curriculum in assessing those outcomes and what came from the review to say that those has become burdensome and didn’t add value instead it distracted teachers from focusing more on curriculum than learning and teaching. Again I think it’s a weakness but it doesn’t say in terms of the principles we have set out in the curriculum that has been a problem.
So when we said last week perhaps OBE is going what we meant all the challenges that has been raised around the implementation of those principles that we have set out which were defined as outcomes of what we want to achieve as a curriculum are being corrected. So its principles that we have defined as outcomes but it’s the principles of any curriculum which are informed by the values of your society, are informed by your curriculum and are informed by your educational objectives. So the review said your outcomes was not properly articulated, they were not clear, clarify them to get everybody to understand them. What we have to say, indeed very creative schools were able to crack those outcomes and were able to get the output.
That is why your Meisies Hoërskool, for instance, in Gauteng - they used trainers because they were able to decode what those principles were and put them out much more clearer and were able to implement them. The weakness was that not all schools were able to articulate them and we did not assist them to articulate them. In terms of the assessments, the report says there were too many burdens, overloading teachers and therefore not necessarily adding value. It’s just been burdensome to both teachers and learners and we are reducing those. Again, the review said to us the resources that were available were not adequate; the outcomes were sometimes too ambitious for the available resources in the country. The teachers tended to create their own materials. I will make an example, for instance, in history we would have said in the past we use to do South Africa and Europe; we are saying we can’t get South African kids to only focus on South Africa and Europe, they have to focus on the history of Africa, Europe and take other continents but throughout history there has not been any development of material for South African kids to study the history of the Caribbean so what would have happened [was that] teachers were scrambling with materials and that in a way compromise on quality so the review is saying the process of developing material is not a competence of teachers, that is done by experts and professionals which should re-emphasise the use of text books, standardised material so that there is unity across the board. And again we have well resourced, very gifted teachers who would have been able to create materials which supported the curriculum.
The other thing, we are bringing a different approach to the curriculum, unlike what we had in the past week really it links to progressive principles. You would then have to re-orientated your teachers. The review says that has also been a weak point and teachers were not properly re-orientated towards the new curriculum, so in short what is it that we picked up in the review. It's difficult to say that OBE was a flop because the principles remain and I think we agreed that the underlying values remain but the implementation is what we are saying we have completely overhauled or reviewed and we are going to start phasing it and implementing it properly.
Journalist: The outcomes are your solution and the implementation wasn’t successful. To have a successful outcome then surely the outcome was to use your word a flop. You said it wasn’t a flop. At the end of the day the OBE was essentially brought into South Africa I speak under correction it was taken from an overseas model. It replaced a largely successful education model. You have children today who are Standard 8 or Standard 9 who can’t read or write because of OBE. I don’t see how you can possibly try to defend it?
Angie Motshekga: Let met repeat what a curriculum is. A curriculum is informed by principles and we are saying the principles that we derived in terms of the constitution, the values of the country, remain correct and that is why I say even in moving forward those principles remain. I can read you a few of those critical outcome principles we are talking about; we want to identify and solve problems, want to organise and manage themselves, collect and communicate effectively, use science and technology, so those are the principles that remain correct as principles. But a curriculum has principles, it has content, it has methodology, it has assessment, that is what constitutes a curriculum broadly and we are saying not everything in the framework was incorrect. The framework remains correct, the principles remain correct, the assessments were burdensome; it’s not that [they] were wrong, there was just too many.
We are saying the content remains correct but the content was not properly supported. We would say South African kids should not only study history of South Africa, should study the history of Africa, but it was not properly supported. So it can’t be wrong. In terms of the content we are saying we have not articulated properly. So I’m not defending, I am saying it was a weakness on our part not to support those outcomes adequately; it was incorrect for us not to even see our assessment would be burdensome and remove teachers away from teaching and force them to do lots of administration. It’s not wrong to assess learners, but I think it was a weakness to over-assess them that they become statistics of really too many tests and very little time to teach them. So there is nothing overseas about it but it’s in the implementation of a broad progressive, creative and noble idea that we didn’t follow up properly and monitor and support its implementation. So there is no overseas about these principles - these principles are informed by our constitution, they are informed by our values as a country not by anybody. These are contained in our constitution.
Aaron Motsoaledi: I have got two questions on health: the first one is on HIV may I humbly request you what the programme director said after this I am having a comprehensive Powerpoint presentation on HIV/AIDS (http://www.info.gov.za/speeches/docs/motsoaledi_hiv_briefing.pdf) as per the instruction of the President; when he was addressing the NCOP he said I must show the nation what he was talking about and I have that Powerpoint which will also answer your question.
The second question on overhauling the health system, whether this time around it will work and what will make it work unlike in the past. I am not sure if we had a ten point programme in the past but the ten point programme we are having I have presented to several stakeholders, some are in various workshops including junior doctors, hospital associations, pharmacies, Health Professional Council, Pharmacy Council, Nurses Council, the Board of Healthcare Funders, the deans of all eight medical schools. The college of medicine in Cape Town and in Johannesburg, I presented the ten point programme to them and they believe it’s going to work and I believe if everybody believes it’s going to work, it [is] for us South Africans to make sure it does work. If you look at the Lancet report which we released in August there are many similarities. The Lancet report were arrived at a complete different process from the ten point programme but there are many similarities that gives us confidence that we are on the right track. What will be problematic is the ability to implement and I believe South Africans working together will be able to do that implementation. How long will it take, this is an ongoing process some of the things have already started within the healthcare system. I mentioned two areas in the overhauling number one that we need to overhaul the system because almost every South African believes healthcare is curative. They have forgotten about primary healthcare even when they discuss the cost of NHI it’s on the business of healthcare in other words that all South Africans have to get sick and get to a hospital. That South Africans can be prevented from getting sick is no longer in the system; that South Africans can get very cheap treatment at a primary healthcare level has also been forgotten. The other area of overhauling is the issue of management: who manages what and how is it managed; these are the areas of this overhauling and I can’t say by this time we would have been finished. Thank you.
Journalist: I would like to ask the Minister of Health a follow up on that particularly on the management of hospitals because clearly that is a problem where apparently qualified people had responsibilities for running hospitals and had difficulties there. I wondered if you could inform us whether you could give us figures on whether changes have been made on that level because clearly it’s going to be difficult to process in terms of labour regulations. Then for the Minister of Basic Education if you could help us with details about training of teachers, one of the big downfalls of OBE, how that is going to roll out or is it on the way? Then when you referred to the National Charter of Values it reminded me about the process that was put into swing by Naledi Pandor and that was the school pledge and I wondered whether that is a similar initiative and whether the new administration is of the mind that it’s a worthy initiative?
Angie Motshekga: We had a very good successful summit and the Deputy Minister has been running the process. We are still committed to the pledge; we are going to work hard to make sure that it’s implemented in the schools just as an opening sentence. We concentrated on the main issue which was the curriculum and I always said that education is just about knowledge and knowledge is contained in the curriculum. If we couldn’t solve problems there, all other things are undermined so that’s what we put our energies on. And the other things we have not highlighted, it’s not because they are less important, it’s just that we prioritised the focus on the curriculum addressing some of the issues which have been raised about it.
What we plan to do in January is, there has been instruction form the President that we have to make education a societal matter. We are going to incorporate the work on the pledge and other pledges not for learners but also for parents, to get parents to assist us with parenting, to get teachers to do their work. So we are incorporating that under the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) where not only are we committing learners to a certain set of values but also we have pledges that came from the summit committing teachers to a set of values, committing parents also who are working with STPs to make sure that parents and communities assist us. The short answer is I’m still very committed to the pledge which was done by my predecessor, we have not prioritised it because I thought I should use the first six months just to sort the burning issue around the curriculum.
Enver Surty: As the Minister has correctly indicated, it's central to the success of the delivery of a quality education programme with competence and proficiency of the educators. And therefore the commitment has been made in the teacher’s summit and certainly is the view of the Department that we have to pay particular attention to teacher development, particularly with regard to content knowledge. And perhaps that takes us back to one of the constraints with regard to the implementation of the curriculum that perhaps too little focus was placed on content knowledge. We cannot argue, we must agree that for example the Outcomes Based Education phenomenon is based on three pillars. Its knowledge, skills, and its values and attitudes, the values and attitudes are obviously drawn from the constitution and therefore we have a manifesto values within the Department which speaks about racism, non-sexism, tolerance, respect, democracy, transparency. And these are elements that are contained within the Constitution and would form part and parcel of the knowledge of a learner, so that’s one part of it. But in order to have the skill to apply that knowledge to different contexts, one has to have knowledge itself. Which means the content knowledge itself must precede the conceptual knowledge and therefore a particular focus has been placed on this particular area. And what we could give you as an example is that in the past two years we have managed to train 2 100 teachers in content knowledge, in mathematics and science and the languages. And that has made a significant difference in the achievement of learners in the FET band, that’s Grades 10 to 12. We have also provided opportunities for unions to assist in the development of the educators.
We have precept programmes for people who are entering the profession and incept training. These are going to be made available at various sites. The Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Higher Education and Training are looking at possibilities within the FET Framework to say how they could pursue the inset training especially with regard to content knowledge. Then there is the continuous professional development of educators and that’s with the point system. The unions are working with the department and other stakeholders to ensure that lifelong learning, which is again part of our based education, forms part of the framework. What is it that you expect from a learner in the 21st century? That he or she must be able to have knowledge, to have the skills to apply that knowledge in different contexts. For example if you talk about fuel, we must know what fuel is, is it fossilised fuel? Is it liquid fuel? What other source of energy, what does it do? What impact does it have on our lives? Does fuel contribute to the climatic changes that we face out here? How do we conserve energy? So there is a relationship between the knowledge that is being taught in terms of its content and its application in different context. And how fuel affects finance and the cost of food? So you can’t look at knowledge in an isolated way. What OBE says is to have the ability to apply that knowledge in different context.
If a learner doesn’t know what fuel is or what different forms of fuel is or what conservation is and what it relevance is to the environment and to climatic change, you are not going to get anywhere. And we are saying that particular understanding must be developed and we must strengthen teacher capacity in terms of those areas. If we are going to say OBE is dead then we are going to say that one of the principles within the framework is to utilise ICT in the learning environment. Do we say that’s not relevant and necessary, we have to say yes we have to do it but we have to recognise enormous disparities that occur in the social economic context of our country. That not all schools have ICT, how do we deal with that particular issue and recognise that in order to achieve certain objectives and outcomes you require a particular learning environment. And what we are doing now is saying frankly and honestly, as we develop our educators, to what extent does we support those educators in achieving those outcomes which arte plain, easy to understand and which could be conveyed with clarity so that the confusion within the system is removed and that the outcome is clearly specified and can be achieved progressively by the learners. So it’s to remove the constraints within the implementation of the curriculum and that we have basically consulted with the educators and the experts and we have recognised that there were difficulties in that regard. We will not try to defend it and say that these difficulties did not exist. Like anything else a curriculum is something that develops as times change, so it will evolve and we might find that there are other deficits that are identified and we might have to take corrective action in this regard. But I think we are on to a firm start. One of the key difficulties has been that because this new curriculum approach has been so exciting, so demanding and required development of educators.
Educators began to undervalue the importance of content knowledge and focus more on methodology and that is a reality. So they sacrifice the content that important first pillar at the expense of an exciting methodology in their endeavour to develop their own curriculum because they want to become curriculum developers. And they thought these were the extraordinary demands, we say that not everyone has the ability. These educators who have the ability, proficiency and the competency to do so, should go ahead. But at the very least these are the minimum skills that educators at this grade must have in order to teach this content knowledge and to make sure that the learners are able to apply that in different contexts. So it’s a real honest assessment of the realities on the ground and the challenges that we face as a whole. So I hope that has assisted in clarifying the concept. I know it’s somewhat confusing but we are doing our best to be honest, and that’s why the emphasis on literacy and numeracy is there within the curriculum plans.
The Minister has decided that in terms of how she is going to reconfigure the department, she would perhaps have a dedicated branch for curriculum, in terms of policy development, implementation and support and a dedicated branch in terms of teacher development, so those two would go hand in glove in ensuring that we have quality education in our schools.
Aaron Motsoaledi: Painfully I have to agree with you on the issue of management. What you are saying actually happened, that’s why we identified it on the 10 point programme about the issue of management. Similarly there was a time when the Department of Health believed that you don’t have to be a doctor to manage a hospital as long as people have management skills, they can. We do not challenge that and that hospitals perhaps must be managed along business lines as some form of business entities. That is no challenge either, but unfortunately in most areas, it’s not what actually happens. Some people have been put to manage hospitals; we are aware that they can’t cope. But I can’t give details of what we are going to do because we will have to re-assess all the 254 hospitals in 52 districts, not only individuals. But we are assisting the whole system. For instance I have got a couple of letters from several clinical managers that their job description and that of the CEOs - there are a lot of overlap. That is also going to be assessed. I will be meeting all these people in the next two weeks in meetings where we are going to outline how the process is going to take place. And that also means meeting labour because some of the issues are labour issues. So allow me not to outline them today until I have met with the people who are affected.
Journalist: You talk about the quality of teaching; President Zuma has said that the Cabinet itself will be performance judged. Could you tell us what progress is being made with assessment of teachers to make absolutely sure that they can teach, and they teach the right thing? There was a lot of talk about bringing back an inspectorate. What is happening in that regard?
Journalist: Are you not concerned that it seems as soon as you go to a township clinic or rural area, there is just no medicine available. I’m working on a story now about a three month old baby in the Eastern Cape who went to a clinic with a chest complication and then the nurses just said that babies don’t take medicine, she went home and died. This is a story that repeats itself. In Delft adults go to the clinic with chest infections and then they are given a recipe by nurses to make their own cough mixture at home. In other places people wait eight hours to get two Panados. Are you not very concerned about this, this is very disastrous.
Journalist: Minister of Health, I understand the overhauling of the health system is a work in progress but what targets have you set? How are you going to monitor the overhauling? Surely you have to monitor and tell us when you will be done with the assessment. What timeframe are we looking at?
Aaron Motsoaledi: We are worried about medications that’s why we put it on the statement that if you look at point number three on our 10 point programme, we are talking about the quality of health services, the quality of healthcare. We have put up a team and that’s what I will be telling the CEOs and managers when I meet with them. Five issues are going to be looked at when we assess, monitor, evaluate and do follow ups in the hospitals. We said it’s the safety and security of patients which appears on the statement, the cleaners of our institution and faction control, the attitude of staff that’s experienced by patients. The fourth issue is the time taken while they are queuing to see a health worker or is needing medication. And every institution will know that they will be assessed and monitored on that. How long does it take and why are people queuing. Are there other better methods, is it just a shortage of staff or a lack of management of that which is there. And the last issue is availability of drugs, in some cases you find that the drugs are there in the depot and we read from the press that there are no drugs in the clinics, so we are going to tell the health managers that as we want them to take responsibility as we are doing at a national level. If there are no drugs in a hospital, we want t know at least a week or so in advance, we shouldn’t be told that morning that there is no Panado. Surely the hospital manager must have seen, and if we don’t respond they can phone the Presidential helpline to report the matter.
Sometimes it becomes an argument who caused the problem, is it government having no drugs, is it the depot or is it that the clinical manager who just woke up to find out that morning. So far the blame has always been put on government, the institutions have always been blameless, and some of their managers have been hiding behind that. Point number nine on the 10 point programme is talking about the regime of the drug police because we are aware that there is a problem. We mean reviewing the whole procurement, we believe there is something wrong with the whole procurement chain including the logistics. But we are also reviewing it in terms of the HIV and AIDS, in terms of could it be that a system of procurement is better. Some Premiers in terms of HIV and AIDS have come to the national Department saying why don’t you buy these drugs centrally and send them to provinces instead of giving us money because we are having problems with it, that is also being looked at. I said I don’t want to give details because in two weeks' time I will be meeting these clinical managers to tell them. We have already instituted a plan, we believe the process of going to every institution to evaluate and see what’s going on. The team told us that it will take three weeks.
In some hospitals they will say there are no delegations, when districts and provinces realise that some hospitals are not being managed well, where the management can’t even repair a broken window. But after assessment you will be able to say that this one can manage this number of delegations. The timeframe will be known after the initial assessment which will take ten weeks and we’ve been told that it will cost R10 million. Doctors also want us to come into their offices so they can tell us where the weaknesses are, so it’s going to be a very expensive process.
Angie Motshekga: The question on teacher assessment: the current tools we have doesn’t necessarily give us the relevant information in terms of capacity of teachers, our weaknesses and the ability of how they teach. That is why we called a Teachers Summit to review our tools the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) which has hundred assessors. It’s a tool which, the methodology of the tool where you assess themselves and the supervisor assesses. When I was still MEC you will get in a dysfunctional school and everybody get five so it seems they are perfect but the school is not working. So with the Teachers Summit we have agreed to revise the tool I have set up a task team - my predecessor has set up what we call NEDU it’s your National Education and Development Unit and it's meant to assist us to improve on the work we are doing. One of the key challenges is to delink assessments to payroll, to pay progression, your increments because that is where the problem was as colleagues, they know the implication has got to do with people’s salaries got inflated and we are working towards cleaning that area to make sure our assessments are pure assessments to assess quality, to also information for improvement and also for the needs of teacher training and development and use maybe a different tool for your promotions and salary increments. What has been one of our weak areas in terms of our ability to assess and get accurate information on the more than 300 000 teachers that we employ to say that indeed Mrs. Motshekga this is the level of her abilities and therefore this should be a developmental plan? Through the work we are doing with the Summit which we will announce quite soon what the progress is because we have a good working understanding with teachers on the importance of us being able to assess but also having a tool that enables us to get the required information unlike the current tool that really wasn’t giving us the necessary information to help us to deal with the others.
The need to process we have set up a task team to look at the feasibility what structure should we use should we have the inspectorate that we want to go back to is there other tools that we can use. There is some hybrid between an inspectorate and a developmental tool but I’m not sure what the final tool will look like but the investigation team will help us to assess if we do need an inspectorate if we can afford an inspectorate or are there other models which work better than the inspectorate so we are not there as yet to know exactly what is the final tool.
Journalist: To the Minister of Basic Education: You said the IQMS system that provided a one percent pay progression for teachers who performed satisfactorily and that linked to a reward system that you are scrapping it all together. Is that what you said, maybe I misunderstood is that being scrapped?
Angie Motshekga: Until I have an alternative I can’t remove it what we are saying is that we are reviewing it we say it’s not as effective as it should be because it’s not giving us all the information we require from it. But until such time we have a new tool we are not able to remove it because it’s the only thing we have in place otherwise there would be a vacuum.
Journalist: To the Minister of Health: it’s encouraging to see that task shifting is part of the ten point plan but you state it will go to mid level healthcare workers. What about community healthcare workers or health surveillance assistance does task shifting extend that far. If not why not?
Aaron Motsoaledi: Absolutely it is. In fact as I am speaking you will be aware when we do the HIV/AIDS presentation that because of the massive programme we have to undertake you do need task shifting and as I’m speaking we do have teams already in the country from the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, United Nations Population Development who are here to help us in that integration and advise us about shifting some of the tasks because we don’t have enough doctors do to some of the things. If you look at the ten point programme under the Human Resources we do mention that issue of community health workers because it’s an important pillar of our healthcare system. How many community health workers are going to be there what are they going to do and by the way within in our system check one of the most unfortunate things that we did that even environmental inspectors they use be called inspectors were removed from the system because they must be hired by Local Government which never did so and it’s a very big problem we also have to re-look that one. So the task shifting is going to be an extensive project.
Journalist: Minister Motsoaledi, given the broader societal debate on legalisation of prostitution and taken note of the last South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) report endorsed by you and read out by the Deputy President. Are you in favour do you support a move to legislate in favour of prostitute or at least decriminalise prostitution? And with the view to 2010 are you looking even if it’s a temporary measure to look for sort of special points where prostitutes can for a lack of better word sex workers sell their work?
Aaron Motsoaledi: Number one, I am part of SANAC which is debating this issue. They have not yet reached a conclusion. I know as a matter of fact that there is going to be an alliance summit this weekend. The issue might arise but remember COSATU itself amongst it structures also didn’t finish the discussion on this issue because they could not be in agreement and so I can’t stand up and say this is my preference as the Minister I will hear from all those structures. I happen to know within the ruling party the issue is being discussed but there is no final conclusion so I don’t know any part of South Africa where by and large there is broader consensus on agreement about this issue and I’m sure even within the ANC Women’s League there is no broad consensus from what I’ve heard and so we will hear from all of you.
Journalist: Minister Motsoaledi when you said hospitals needs to be operated business-like, one of the ten point plans speaks to the refurbishment of hospitals. I just want to find out if you know if the department is actually looking at public private partnerships as an option?
Aaron Motsoaledi: Yes, the issue of running hospitals business-like, I said this was thought of in the past when they said you don’t have to have a doctor as a CEO of hospital but I said unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have taken place and that is why there are weaknesses. Now the issue of public-private partnerships (PPPs) we need to divide them. The PPP we are on now which the President instructed in the State of the Nation Address is about infrastructure that there we need in fact if you look at the ten point programme it says PPPs along the same lines we did for 2010. That means the manner in which we produce the 2010 infrastructure in a short, very efficient time, we need to look into that and see if we can’t do that with the health infrastructure seeing that the project of revitalisation of hospitals has been there from 1998 and it’s not going very well and that is why we are looking into PPP’s. The other areas of PPP’s into management is something that we have not yet reached a conclusion on and we are looking into it but you are aware that hospitals like Albert Ntuli are running along such lines. We have got to check and see if that type of model is working very well, is sufficient is cost saving whether it can be repeated anywhere such an addition has not been arrived at. Thank you.
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
10 November 2009