Chairperson, I start by thanking the hon Minister of Higher Education and Training, hon Blade Nzimande. I don't know if I should say "Sharp Blade" Nzimande! Welcome, Minister.
I also want to welcome the hon Minister of Basic Education, hon Motshekga. Thank you for agreeing to come and participate in this debate in the NCOP. Your co-operation is highly regarded by the NCOP. Thank you also to all the MECs who have been able to come here today to participate in this important debate.
We thought it would be important to start our debates on policy issues in the NCOP this year by looking at education because of its importance, and we will continue and consider other areas that we have identified as our priority areas of oversight.
When the President of this country addressed this House last year, he stated that our education was not delivering the results that South Africans needed to overcome the ravages of apartheid. He said that a large slice of the population lacked the skills they needed to find employment, leaving them jobless for years and years. He further stated:
Though it absorbs a significant amount of our budget, our education system does not produce the outcomes we require.
A couple of months ago the President addressed the matric results that were released, and they were unsatisfactory by far. An in-depth analysis of these results shows a deep-rooted challenge in our education system as a whole.
Let me just go quickly to the statistics. In 1998 more than 1,5 million children across the country started Grade 1. Since then, about 1 million of those children fell by the wayside. In 2009 only 551 940 of them registered for the matric class. That is a dropout rate of about 65%.
We have to ask ourselves the question: Where are those learners today? What are they doing where they are currently? That is a question that I want to put directly to all of us as Members of Parliament as well: What are we doing to be involved in that?
Also, hon members, in terms of the SA Schools Act of 1996, it is also the responsibility of the parents to make sure that those children go to school and are taught. I do not want to read the Act; I am sure everybody knows that the Act says we have a responsibility as parents to make sure that our children pass Grade 9 at least. It is our responsibility to do so. This is also in the Bill of Rights, which is entrenched in the Constitution.
There is absolutely no reason today for parents or anybody to allow their children to not go to school and hide behind the argument of poverty. The Minister and the Department of Basic Education have made it very clear that no school should refuse to admit a child to school if he or she does not have the money to pay for school fees.
That is the reason for the department actually taking steps to make quite a number of schools no-fee schools today. The quintile system itself has played a major role in addressing that and, Minister, we want to thank you that the number of these schools where our children are not paying school fees has now increased and that they can go to school and receive an education. Thank you for that, because it was a very big problem in the past. Although there are challenges regarding the classification of some schools into different quintiles, the quintile system is still one of the best ways of actually helping poor children attain a basic education.
Let us quickly look at the matric results. The 2009 matric results were announced earlier this year. Only 334 609 of the 551 940 who wrote passed matric. That is 60,6%. Of these, just over 100 000 qualified for university entrance. In Mpumalanga, for example, the pass rate was 50%, and in the Eastern Cape 51%. Simply put, this means that one in every two matriculants in these provinces is facing an uncertain future.
Figures released by the Department of Basic Education show that 18 schools got a 0% matric pass rate. Half of them - i.e. nine - are found in Limpopo, four in KwaZulu-Natal, three in the Eastern Cape, one in the North West and one in Gauteng. Do you want to tell me that those children are all stupid in those schools and that not even one child can pass? There must be something wrong. I don't believe that all those children cannot pass and that there was a pass rate of zero in those particular schools. There is something wrong and all of us need to pay attention to that.
I want to suggest right now that all Members of Parliament who are deployed in constituencies where those schools are should adopt a school like that. Don't wait for tomorrow; let it be your school until you upgrade it and until you get the results corrected. I have done it in the past and I know it works. I monitor such a school until the results of the school shape up and then I know I have done my work. Then I can leave that school and go and do another school.
Hon members, in 2007 the pass rate was 65,2% and in 2008 it was 62,5%. These decreases started after 2004, when the pass rate was 70,7%, and it has been going down every year. If the trend is anything to go by, it means we are heading for trouble.
What are some of the challenges that exist and that all of us can address, instead of waiting for the department? One of the challenges is absenteeism at school, either of the teachers or the children themselves. We can go there and check. I did that just two weeks in my constituency, and I discovered that these problems still exist. Other challenges are bad management of schools and a lack of infrastructure at schools.
In interacting with my constituency, I further found that there was a lack of discipline among some of the teachers - not all of them. Remember that we have some teachers who are very good, but some of them still lack discipline at school, and some learners also have a lack of discipline, either leaving early or arriving late, whatever the case may be.
There is also poor management of school transport. They have complained to those of us who have visited schools that in some areas they don't have school transport, or the school transport brings them to school late and fetches them early, whatever the case may be. Those are simply questions of logistics can be addressed by management at that particular school.
Then there is the issue of a lack of qualified teachers, especially for subjects such as mathematics and science. Minister, when I visited two high schools in the Modimolle area in Limpopo, where I am deployed, I asked both of the principals of those schools one simple question: What made your results drop in 2009? Let us leave other years, just tell me what made your results drop in 2009.
Both of them said to me that the children had failed in large numbers in mathematics, physical science and accounting. I asked them why they had failed. The answer I got from both these principals was that the papers were too hard. The standards set in the papers were too high. That is what I got from their mouths. Now, I didn't see the papers, and I don't know what they looked like, but what I want to raise is that it is common knowledge - you get some information - that some of the teachers, when they teach accounting, deliberately avoid bookkeeping and management accounting. When they teach mathematics, they avoid, for example, looking at the question of trigonometry, which is very important in teaching mathematics.
Hon Chairperson, other speakers will expand on what I have said, because I don't have much time. But let me also say that we should also ask ourselves the following questions as we discuss this subject: How many children of disadvantaged parents can read, count and write properly when they go to school, as opposed to the children from advantaged families? How many township and rural schools are crippled by the lack of resources that are needed to ensure that teaching continues uninterrupted? How many schools in poor areas are functioning and have libraries and laboratories? These are some of the questions that we should ask.
Once more, the government has committed itself to ensuring access to quality education as one of the strategic priorities of this term of Parliament, with a focus on the delivery of quality outcomes. As the President stated, among other things, during the state of the nation address in 2009, particular attention would be paid to learner outcomes, early childhood development, improving school management and supporting and developing a higher quality of teaching as a profession. Achieving this, however, depends upon dealing with basics first.
These are what the President calls the non-negotiables, that is, teachers should be in school, in class, on time and teaching for seven hours every day. There should be no neglect of duty, there should be no abuse of learners and learners must be in class learning. These are non-negotiables and very, very important.
Coming to higher education, I want to thank hon Minister Blade Nzimande. I have had a discussion with him - I don't want to repeat a lot in the debate - particularly in terms of the students who need to be registered at or admitted to tertiary institutions. I am referring to the question of students who are perhaps doing their third or final year and hardly have the money to complete their degrees. They have to break off their studies, go and work and come back and finish their degrees. There are still these problems at tertiary institutions.
There is a point system for admitting students to university. I am not too sure whether it is standard, or whether each university has its own point system. The University of Cape Town, for example, might have its own system, and UWC might have its own system, so too Free State, Wits, and the University of Pretoria. Which criteria are being used, actually, in dealing with these point systems?
The most important thing is that we must make sure that the children who pass well in matric gain access to these tertiary institutions. Those point systems must not be used to prevent our children from entering institutions of higher learning and to favour other people getting into the institutions of higher learning. I would want to request the Minister today to look into that. I have actually seen that the Minister has begun that type of discussion. I think this morning you came out very well. I do not know if you pre-empted the debate this afternoon, Minister, but I was watching you on television and this question came up again, and you responded to it very well. I want to thank you very much.
Thank you, hon members. Those are my inputs for the debate. [Applause.]
Hon Chairperson of the NCOP, it is always a pleasure and an honour to follow on after you in a debate.
Chairperson of the NCOP, Ministers present and members of the House, this topic of today is very important. It is the crux of the matter and the solution to guaranteeing a better future for all our people and our country. Education is the main pillar of building a stable and prosperous country. Therefore a quality education and training system is cardinal to enhancing good values and morals in our communities. Voorsitter, kan ons met gerustheid s dat ons in hierdie rigting beweeg? Die antwoord is nee, omdat die gehalte van syfervaardigheid en geletterdheid in grade 3, 6 en 9 hopeloos te laag is. Ons het 'n krisis in die onderwys en ons moet dit vinnig en dringend uitsorteer. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Chairperson, can we confidently say that we are heading in this direction? The answer is no, because the levels of numeracy and literacy in Grades 3, 6 and 9 are far too low. We are experiencing a crisis in our education system and we need to address this swiftly and urgently.]
We must quickly come up with accurate diagnostic models to address the problems and the causes of failure in our basic education system.
We need effective models and programmes to address our sociocultural environment within and outside our schools, as well as a change of mind-set among our children and youth regarding the values and goals that are important for a stable life and community.
The capabilities of our teachers and their commitment to quality education and training outcomes must be improved and set as the most important priority.
Die doelwit, soos gestel deur vandag se onderwerp vir bespreking, wys soos 'n teregwysende vinger na elkeen van ons in Suid-Afrika. Die departement het wel in 2008 'n projek geloods om 'n fondasie te l vir leer en om geletterdheid en syfervaardigheid te verbeter.
Dink net: As die nasionale regering onder die ANC en sy alliansie-vennote die model wat in 2001 deur die destydse DA-administrasie in die Wes-Kaap gemplementeer is, gemplementeer het, het ons nie hierdie krisis op hande gehad nie.
Die uitfasering van onderwyskolleges deur die destydse regering onder voormalige President Mbeki se beheer was verkeerd en 'n fout. Onderwyskolleges is die teelaarde vir leerkragte in basiese opvoeding en onderrig. Dit is hier waar die fondasie vir enige goeie leerkrag gel en vasgepen word. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[The goal, as put by today's subject for discussion, points like an admonitory finger to each one of us in South Africa. In 2008, the department did indeed launch a project to lay the foundation for teaching and to improve literacy and numeracy.
Just consider the following: If the national government under the ANC and its alliance partners had implemented the model that was implemented in 2001 by the former DA administration in the Western Cape, we would not have this crisis at hand. The phasing out of teacher training colleges by the government at the time, under the leadership of former President Mbeki, was wrong and a mistake. Teacher training colleges are the breeding grounds for teaching staff in basic education and teaching. This is where the foundation for any good teacher is laid and established.]
To enhance the culture of learning and training, we must show our commitment to advocating our aims and goals extensively all over the place- on billboards, television and radio, in local government institutions, national government institutions and social development institutions, on our roads, in our shops, etc.
We must have a psychological, physical and structural campaign to achieve our goal of learning and training our youth and communities. This must not be a once-off occasion, but an ongoing and constant campaign in every sphere of human existence.
Die stelsel van basiese onderwys moet verander word, want die bestaande stelsel toon ernstige probleme. [The basic education system needs to be transformed as the existing system shows signs of serious problems.]
The simple factor by which the teacher-learner ratio is calculated is wrong and inadequate. We must find a different model to determine this ratio, especially in our basic education phases, Grades 1 to 3, Grades 4 to 7 and further up.
We must implement a model for monitoring and evaluation in schools and classes to see if pupils perform and progress in numeracy and literacy. This must be done on a regular and constant basis by the school's senior staff. Then, when the inspector comes to the school, as mentioned by the President in the state of the nation address, nobody will fear that faults will be identified. To achieve this, more time must be set aside for the appropriate staff to perform this duty in the time available to them.
Leer en opleiding begin by die gewoonte om te lees en 'n liefde vir lees te ontwikkel. Daarom stel ek dit as 'n feit dat hierdie gewoonte deur middel van verskillende programme, modelle en inisiatiewe aangemoedig moet word. Mense met 'n liefde vir lees verstaan beter, ontwikkel beter en presteer beter.
Ons kan nie verwag dat leerkragte wat in 'n situasie opgelei is om 'n bepaalde model van onderrig toe te pas en uit te voer, 'n nuwe model, wat ander doelwitte het, suksesvol sal implementeer nie. Hulle moet ook konstruktief en effektief opleiding en onderrig ontvang om hulle te kapasiteer vir hul nuwe taak. Geen "mikrogolf"-opleidingsmodel sal effektief werk nie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[Education and training start with the habit of reading and by developing a love of reading. For this reason, I am stating it as a fact that this habit should be promoted by means of different programmes, models and initiatives. People who love to read have a clearer understanding of things, their development is more advanced and they perform better.
We cannot expect teachers who are trained to apply and implement a certain model of teaching in a specific situation, to successfully implement another model that has other goals. They must also receive constructive and effective training and teaching to capacitate them for their new task. No "microwave" training model will work effectively.]
Chairperson, you cannot expect learners to excel in any form of mathematics if they did not receive maths training from the primary phase and throughout the phases up to Grade 12. Umalusi identified that historically 30% to 40% of all secondary schools did not have some form of education with regard to maths before Grade 9. Therefore the maths pass rate in 2008 was only 46%. In 2008 54% did not pass and in 2009 53% did not pass.
This is a typical example of a misjudgement in educational accountability and implementation. The misfortune of this situation is that those learners were dealt a psychological blow by our system of education to their whole lives and future. This we must never again allow to happen.
Too many learners with the potential to study further, maybe at a college or university, cannot go to such an institution, due to the financial inaffordability. We must come up with a financial model of assisting them to further their studies.
Even parents with a decent job, such as teachers, people in correctional services, health services or other government sectors, cannot afford to send their children to these educational institutions. We must look into the matter. Maybe the benefit of a study loan or bursary at their workplace could address this problem.
Hierdie voordele sal ook ons leerders aanmoedig om hulself te kwalifiseer in daardie rigtings waar die voordele vir hul toekomstige kinders se verdere studies rooskleurig is. Dit sal die finansile sake van ons horonderwysinstellings ook baie verbeter, en hulle sal ook beter dienste aan ons studente kan lewer wanneer hulle by hierdie instellings opdaag.
Kom, laat ons die onderwys, onderrig en opleiding van ons jeug en gemeenskap die belangrikste saak maak om 'n beter toekoms vir ons land en al sy mense te verseker. Ons moet ook daarop konsentreer om kriteria en modelle te vind vir di leerders wat uitval tussen graad 1 en graad 12, sodat ons hulle langer in die skool kan hou. Dit sal verseker dat ons baie meer matrikulante sal h, en 'n baie beter toekoms vir ons jeug en ons samelewing kan voorsien, met al die voordele wat dit inhou. Ek dank u. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[These benefits would also urge our learners to obtain qualifications in those areas that would be beneficial to their children's future studies. This would greatly improve the financial affairs of our higher education institutions as well, and they would also be able to offer better services to our students when they arrive at these institutions.
Come, let us prioritise the education, teaching and training of our youth and communities to ensure a better future for our country and all its people. We must also focus on finding criteria and models for those learners who leave the education system between Grade 1 and Grade 12, so that we can keep them in school for a longer period. This would ensure a greater number of matriculants and provide a much better future for our youth and society, with all the benefits that are associated with it. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Thank you very much, hon De Villiers. As I call on the hon Makgate, may I take the opportunity to welcome the president of the SRC of the University of Cape Town Mr Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, who is seated in the gallery. You are welcome, sir. You may proceed, hon Makgate.
Modulasetilo, Matona a Lefapha a a leng teng fa, pele ke simolola ka puo ka re thuto e botlhokwa mo baneng ba rona. [Chairperson, senior officials of the department present here today, before I start with my speech, I would like to say education is important to our children.]
Nelson Mandela's long walk and commitment to quality education for all South Africans manifests itself not only in his personal struggle to qualify himself as an attorney, but also in the broader struggle for the liberation of black people in general and black Africans in South Africa in particular.
His vision of quality and free education in a nonracial, democratic, nonsexist society has evolved over many decades through not only personal sacrifice, but also the collective political counsel of the then leadership of Kotane, Max Sisulu and others.
The ANC's vision for a quality, compulsory and equal education was subsequently concretised in the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown on 26 June 1955. These objectives were completely articulated and amplified in the Rivonia Trial of 1964, during which Nelson Mandela said:
The present government has always sought to hamper Africans in their search for education.
There is compulsory education for all white children at virtually no cost to their parents, be they rich or poor. Similar facilities are not provided for the African children ...
Against this background, it must be noted that the vision of the Freedom Charter became the bedrock of struggle for the liberation and its policy compass. It culminated in the adoption of the South African Constitution of 1996. Moreover, the Bill of Rights, although conceptually raised during the Rivonia Trial, encapsulated all the ideals that we envisaged during Nelson Mandela's testimony.
In relation to education, the Constitution is ambiguous. Section 29, clause 1 says:
Everyone has the right -
a) to a basic education, including adult education; and
b) to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.
(2) Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practicable. In order to ensure the effective access to, and the implementation of, this right, the state must consider all reasonable educational alternatives, including single medium institutions, taking into account -
b) practicability; and
c) the need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws and practices.
Since Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as President in 1994, our ANC-led government has made significant strides in relation to policies pertaining to education. In our primary and secondary schooling, we are just a few years away from achieving 100% participation by all our children. About 600 000 children attend crches and preschools. The matriculation pass rate has risen from 58% in 1994 to 60,7% in 2009.
Overcrowding in classes has been greatly reduced. The teacher-learner ratio in 2006 was 1:32 as opposed to 1:43 in 1996. Currently, more than the poorest 60% of schools in the country are no-fee schools.
The mass literacy campaign is now reaching more than 500 000 people who could not read and write. In higher education, 140 000 students have been supported through our national financial aid scheme, which is helping to improve participation of the poor in higher education.
Furthermore, during his tenure as the President of the ANC, the first democratically elected President of the Republic and his public-speaking career after retiring from presidential duties and office, Nelson Mandela has been consistent in his quest to amplify the historic evolution of ANC policies, emphasising the critical importance of education and constructively criticising the subsequent ANC administration for failing to implement policies.
However, it is critical that we contextualise recent trends in basic education, particularly against the enormous sacrifice of Nelson Mandela and his peers. In this regard, the consistent decline in the matric pass rate between 2006 and 2009, with 2009 presenting us with an all-time-low matric pass rate, is indeed alarming. Many commentators have, since the publication of the 2009 results and over the last while, lamented the direction of the systematic deficiencies of basic education in our country.
As we all know, our ANC-led government's policy which entails shifting resources to the poor, achieving almost universal access, and implementing initiatives to enhance outcomes and the culture of learning in schools has been amazingly effective. Furthermore, our education budgetary allocation demonstrates this government's commitment to developing the strategic capacity and instruments to build the developmental state; and we would like to engage with any contrary view.
At the same time, new challenges have emerged which demand of the ANC-led government to be more resilient. However, we need to acknowledge that these successes have not translated into an improved outcome. Our country continues to be confronted by low pass rates mathematics, science and technical subjects which in turn continue to cast doubts on whether we are able to meet the immediate, medium- and long-term skills capacity demands of the developmental state.
What is it that we need to do? I have already alluded to funding, which has given access to millions of South Africans to the various bands of education. However, we believe that indicators of access should not be restricted to a narrow definition of registration at a centre of learning, since the evidence of inequalities is still reflected in our learning and teaching landscape and it remains stuck.
For example, the critical deliverable of infrastructure provision often gets overlooked in the broader picture. Currently, and although we have made significant gains in the sphere of infrastructure provision, the scenario remains heavily skewed, particularly in relation to rural areas and poor and wealthy urban schools.
Moreover, infrastructure delivery in rural and peri-urban schools continues to be bedevilled by the absence of synchronisation between the three spheres of government. We are therefore calling on the Department of Basic Education to address this matter.
As the ANC, we have adopted certain non-negotiables in education as contained in our 2009 January 28 Statement. Amongst other things, the ANC is calling on teachers to be in class on time and to teach for seven hours daily. These non-negotiables were reaffirmed by our President, Jacob Zuma, during the state of the nation address two weeks ago.
As we know, our education system, aside from real constraints, is also seriously constrained by management capacity. This has led in many instances to unintended consequences. For example, they manifest in poor delivery, dysfunctional schools and ill discipline among some educators and learners. We are therefore endorsing the injunction of our leadership to engage with all its stakeholders, learners and teachers to adhere to the non-negotiables.
Furthermore, we are calling on the department and its provincial counterparts for improved evaluation and monitoring. Also, we wish to propose to the Department of Education, as a matter of policy, a revised and faster evaluation and assessment of schools where management requires attention.
In addition, we would like to be privy to an updated database that reflects those schools where management deficiencies are acute, in order to remedy the situation. It is our view that through working together we can destigmatise the image of township and rural schools, since it appears as if a stigma has taken root in many of these schools.
As we all know and have seen, either as spectators or active participants, the functioning and transformation of our school governing bodies remain contentious. In most areas, SGBs are indeed executing their mandate and statutory obligations in an exemplary fashion, and we salute them.
In other areas they have been used as catalysts to advise on the sinister objectives of careerists with regard to counter-transformation and further undemocratic and racialist agendas.
The SGB system has been given life through an Act of this democratic Parliament and as public representatives it is our duty to ensure that the statutory mandate is upheld at all times. It is our view that the latter is also a non-negotiable since the responsibilities and duties of the SGBs and the school management in general are regarded as being mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary, they are indeed both central to the framework within which management of schools is located. Furthermore, as the ANC we are calling for the forging of a social compact for each sector to contribute to the common objective in which particular communities and progressive formations can together strengthen the schooling system and build an enduring people's contract.
In conclusion, despite the achievements articulated here, as the ANC we are conscious that both higher and basic education have not evolved to the desired level, hence education is our government's number one priority, consistent with the definition adopted at our 52nd conference in Polokwane. Thank you. [Time expired.]
Chairperson of the NCOP, hon Mahlangu, hon Minister Nzimande, the hon Motshekga, the Northern Cape MEC Cjiekella hon members, ladies and gentlemen, we welcome today's debate on enhancing the culture of learning and teaching in our schools for better education outcomes.
Our national pass rate has dropped by 13% since 2003 and our literacy and numeracy levels are way below the international standards. This is an indication that the current education system as well as the culture of learning and teaching are not properly entrenched and that education in South Africa is in crisis.
One of the primary reasons for this is that the rights of learners have all too often come a distant third in order to protect ideological considerations and other educator rights. However, in the Western Cape, we are determined to put the rights of learners above any consideration. Every action, policy or strategy we adopt is guided by this principle.
If South Africa is to succeed, we simply cannot afford to fail the millions of young learners in this country who are desperate to obtain a quality basic education or enhance their future opportunities. It is within this context that the DA administration in the Western Cape has adopted a range of measures which will enhance the culture of teaching and learning in our schools. This puts the rights of approximately one million learners first and ensures that they receive a quality education.
Despite the fact that the Western Cape has the best education system in the country, we have made a bold commitment to improve our educational outcomes, setting specific targets for 2010, which include an improvement to 80% in the Grade 12 pass rate; an increase in the number of learners who are writing their examinations; and a reduction in the number of underperforming schools from 85 to 55. We are planning to have reduced this number to zero by the year 2014.
These are bold but necessary targets. Until yesterday, we were the only province in the country that had set such specific targets in education. I've just learned that the department of education in KwaZulu-Natal has released its own targets. We welcome their commitment to improving education in their province. I'm looking forward to reading their plan and discussing their strategies, as I shared with MEC Cjiekella in Kimberley a few days ago.
While we realise that there is no quick fix in education, we believe that these targets are achievable with dedicated and targeted planning and support. A number of practical management interventions have already been put in place in the Western Cape to help in achieving these targets.
These interventions include the implementation of a detailed turnaround strategy to improve the Grade 12 results; improving literacy and numeracy outcomes by directing maximum human and capital resources to the first three years of schooling; and a management plan to conduct diagnostic tests to measure the literacy and numeracy competency of all three grades, namely Grades 3, 6 and 9 learners. The tests will take place on one school day between 8 November and 19 November 2010. This will allow us to identify problem areas and to take effective and timeous remedial action.
Increased levels of accountability and performance of officials and principals have also been introduced. This is in the performance contracts for head office staff and district officials who are directly linked to learner outcomes - a first for any administration. It will ensure time-on- task by limiting the amount of training and the number of seminars and other functions that take place during school hours. The Western Cape department of education has ensured that at least a month's notice of training opportunities is given and has built in safeguards to ensure that such training will take place outside school hours or on weekends. The department has also reacted swiftly and firmly to any attempt to disrupt schooling, such as at Ludwe Ngamlana Primary School in Khayelitsha. We will not under any circumstances allow education to be abused in the pursuit of a political or any other agenda. I would like to thank the national Minister for her support in this regard.
Yesterday, the provincial cabinet approved the Western Cape education department's request to publish the draft Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill for public comment. This Bill provides greater powers for school inspections; regulates and renews the functions and powers of the provincial education council; makes provision for the inspection of schools to monitor performance and compliance; and further restricts the presence of alcohol, drugs and firearms at our schools.
An innovative plan to address infrastructure backlogs was also presented earlier today at a press conference. This plan provides for a number of short- and long-term interventions and includes the building of 12 new additional schools and 200 classrooms, as well as allocating 126 mobile classrooms, which will be rolled out among 75 schools before the end of the second term on 11 June 2010.
This plan will help alleviate school overcrowding and improve the overall state of our school infrastructure. These are but a few of our interventions that we have achieved thus far and it is safe to say that at the forefront of most of these interventions is the learner.
However, it is only through a sustained, focused and systematic approach that we will achieve the stated targets of improved learner outcomes. There is no doubt that a new wind is blowing through education in the Western Cape as well as the country. There is a great promise of a better tomorrow for all learners, giving a real life to our vision for an open opportunity society for all.
Chairperson, hon Minister of Higher Education and Training, Minister of Basic Education and all protocol observed, this year the Gauteng department of education will focus on improving learner performance in schools. Both President Zuma and Premier Mokonyane have stressed that improving the outcomes of our education system is central to providing decent work and developing our economy.
The President and our premier have made it clear that by the year 2014 we need to ensure that learners leave primary schools being able to read, write and achieve in basic mathematics, and that our matric pass rate needs to improve, with a higher percentage of young people achieving a university entrance.
The Gauteng department of education has, for the past few years, sought to improve learners' levels of achievement in numeracy and literacy. While some progress has been recorded, particularly as regards the number of learners in schools in disadvantaged communities who study maths and science, the goals of quality teaching, learning and achievement in these critical subjects have not been achieved.
In line with the national priority to improve maths and science education, the Gauteng department of education has developed a revised comprehensive maths, science and technology education improvement strategy. This maths, science and technology strategy is the result of wide consultations with school principals and teachers, departmental officials, universities and local experts in maths and science education. Their collective experience of what to do and, importantly, what not to do has resulted in a realistic and feasible approach to the task.
The intervention is multifaceted and includes formulating strategies for teacher preservice and in-service education and training. Secondly, we will focus on the role of resources in improving the quality of learning. This includes the improvement of infrastructure, appropriate fixtures and fittings and equipment and quality learning support materials. Thirdly, we will implement a sustainable strategy for improving learner achievement through holiday camps and weekend classes. Fourthly, we must build the capacity of the system - schools, district and head offices - to ensure that quality learning is effectively managed and takes place optimally.
With regard to literacy, government research has shown that the majority of learners in the Gauteng province are not able to read or write at the levels required by the national curriculum. Targets have been set by the Presidency and the department of education specifically, that by the year 2014 60% of Grade 6 learners in Gauteng will be at or above the national literacy achievement standard.
To accomplish this, the Gauteng primary literacy strategy is built on four pillars: annual external assessment of all Grade 3 and Grade 6 learners; the provision of high-quality literacy textbooks and workbooks, readers and teacher guides for all learners in 790 underperforming primary schools; the provision of learner support and the improvement of district and school management of primary literacy practice.
In terms of support to learners, the strategy includes a social marketing campaign to encourage parents to read to their children in the home and support their children's reading and writing homework; the co-ordination and alignment of the work of the literacy NGOs in the province; and the development of primary school libraries in 790 underperforming primary schools in the province.
Various tests, locally and internationally, show that our learners are failing numeracy and literacy. About 28% of Grade 3 learners pass literacy and about 44% have numeracy skills. This improves slightly in Grade 6, with an average of just below 40% of learners with language skills and just over 50% able to do maths.
If we hope to develop the skilled workforce needed to grow the economy of the country, we need to improve learner performance throughout the education system, especially in the foundation phase.
There are a number of factors, both learner-related and institutional, that result in poor learner performance. Learner-related factors include inadequate curriculum management and coverage during the year; ineffective school-based systems for monitoring curriculum delivery; a lack of standardised lesson plans, practical assignments and tasks; and a quality of teaching and assessment that is not optimal.
Institutional factors include learner and educator discipline, school safety, poor hygiene, cleanliness of infrastructure, poverty and social deprivation.
Last year we developed a five-year strategic plan from 2009 to 2014 to achieve better education outcomes. This plan is based on the following four pillars: ensure that Gauteng has effective schools and learning institutions; Gauteng department of education head office and districts to provide relevant, co-ordinated and effective support to schools; enable young people to make the transition from school to further education and/or work that provides further training opportunities; and strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders, resulting in education becoming a societal priority.
The new approach to science, maths and literacy aims to give concrete expression to ensuring that our schools are effective learning institutions and that our head office and districts provides relevant and appropriate support to schools.
Obviously, none of these will be possible unless we build effective community partnerships to make sure that President Zuma's non-negotiable, of teachers and learners in class, learning and teaching for seven hours a day, is achieved.
A province-wide Back to School campaign has helped to get education off to an early start in our province and to deal with the inevitable challenges of late registration of learners and overcrowding. Our department would like to thank the many public representatives, community members and the private sector for visiting schools throughout the province and contributing so generously to cleaning and repairing our schools. Your efforts have inspired us and given us hope.
Next month our department will host a meeting of faith-based organisations to discuss ways in which this important community can assist in entrenching the culture of learning and teaching in our province and deepen the involvement of parents and community members in their children's education. We also see this as an important way in which the faith-based sector will be able to offer pastoral support to schools affected by violence. Such partnerships have already been running on a pilot basis in Merafong, Eersterus and Boipatong.
To help learners access opportunities to further higher education, we have already issued over 350 of the 700 bursaries we have committed to matriculants from quintiles 1, 2 and 3 schools. This brings to almost 4 000 the number of learners on Gauteng provincial government bursaries in higher education institutions.
We will continue to link 2 000 other learners to educational opportunities and provide them with financial support. We are getting eight learnerships in Gauteng co-ordinated through the Gauteng City Region Academy in areas including artisan training, ICT training, co-operatives, heritage learnerships, creative industries and the auto industry.
Training in specific areas includes traffic officers, office administration, human resource management, construction, motor mechanics, information technology, boilermaking, electrical, welding, plumbing, fitting and turning, social auxiliary work and child and youth care.
This year we will begin a series of roadshows throughout the province, targeting learners in Grades 8 and 9 to ensure they have timely information about matric subject choices before they go to Grade 10. I thank you. [Applause.]
Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon MECs, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to quote what the former President Nelson Mandela said:
Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that the child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation.
I want to quote something else that former President Mandela said:
There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children.
Opvoeding en dissipline moet nooit agterwe gelaat word nie. Dit moet nooit vergeet word dat opvoeding en dissipline n aan die hart van elkeen van ons mense is nie. (Translation of Afrikaans paragraph follows.)
[Education and discipline should never be neglected. It should never be forgotten that education and discipline are dear to each one of us.]
We need to invest in our youth to ensure a skilled and capable workforce to support growth and job creation.
The ID slams the Department of Higher Education and Training for failing to spend nearly R200 million of its National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, budget over the past years. It is outrageous that in a country where tens of thousands of young people lack the financial resources to pursue further education, thousands of them are unable to access government funding. This is a massive contributing factor to the serious lack of skills among our youth, and therefore to the 70% youth unemployment rate, which continues to render them powerless in our economy.
The NSFAS has largely blamed universities and colleges for the unspent R89,3 million in 2007 and R95,5 million in 2008, saying that they only reported back on the use of funds late in the year, making it difficult to spend the remaining money. The NSFAS also blamed the shortage of suitable candidates for loans.
The ID remains unconvinced that there is a shortage of suitable candidates for the loans and we call on the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, to improve information about access to the NSFAS.
We also call on the Minister to lengthen the NSFAS application period from two weeks to three months to give students ample time to apply. Those responsible for distributing NSFAS funds must be held accountable for unspent money because the youth are suffering the consequences of their actions.
The ID supports Minister Nzimande's ordering of a national review into the way money is allocated for bursaries. We support all efforts to prioritise enrolment of more previously disadvantaged students in universities and colleges. However, NFSAS funds should also be prioritised towards those students wishing to enter the areas of studies most urgently needed in our economy.
Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan's first national Budget sees the release of the first budget for the new Department of Higher Education and Training. From April this year the Department of Higher Education and Training will have its own budget and South Africans will be looking at the department to start delivering. The upcoming financial year will see R32 billion allocated to this sector of education, with R19,5 billion to universities, R3,9 billion to FET colleges and R168 million for skills development.
Allow me to say the following:
Dit is goed en wel om teoreties te beplan. Die uitvoer van werk en om toe te sien dat die werk uitgevoer word, is egter van kardinale belang. Die department moet kan monitor en evalueer wat regtig gebeur. Hoe kan 'n onderwyser aan 38 tot 40 kinders in 'n klas persoonlike aandag gee? By 'n primre skool, Vela-Langa in Paballelo, is daar 73 kinders in graad 1. Wanneer gaan daardie onderwyser by almal kan uitkom?
Die betrokkenheid van ons ouers by die voorheenbenadeelde skole is glad nie na wense nie. Ons ouers moet meer belangstelling toon in die opvoeding en ontwikkeling van hul kinders. Die department moet toesien dat daar reg begroot word vir ons skole, sodat daar ook regte fasiliteite by ons skole kan wees. [Tyd verstreke.] Ek dank u. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans paragraphs follows.)
[It is all very well to plan according to theory. However, carrying out work and ensuring that the work is carried out are of the utmost importance. The department must be able to monitor and evaluate what really happens. How can a teacher give individual attention to 38 to 40 children in a class? At Vela-Langa Primary School in Paballelo there are 73 pupils in Grade 1. When will that teacher get to everyone?
The involvement of our parents at previously disadvantaged schools leaves much to desired. Our parents have to show more interest in the education and development of their children. The department must see to it that proper budgeting for our schools takes place in order to have proper facilities at our schools. [Time expired.] I thank you. [Applause.]]
Chairperson, hon Ministers, MECs and members, all protocol observed, South Africa's education system has made a lot of progress in prioritising programmes and policies in accordance with the transformation agenda of the ANC.
Since the 1994 democratic breakthrough, significant legislation and policies have been implemented to promote access to education in line with the Freedom Charter. These achievements follow the Freedom Charter's guiding clause, which states that the doors of learning and culture shall be opened. This clause has been an inspiration during student-life struggles, classroom politics and the yearning for a better education system.
The adoption of the democratic Constitution had a major impact on the area of education and training, quite likely entrenching the human rights doctrine. Subsection 1 of section 29 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right to basic education, including adult education. This section also states that everyone has the right "to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible".
Furthermore, a provision of this section states that in order to ensure the implementation of these rights, the state should take equity into account and redress the legacy of apartheid. This provision recognises that the right to access quality education might not be enjoyed by children from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly if certain sections of society seek to treat education as a commodity whereas this section places education as one of the basic needs. However, socioeconomic inequalities seem to place constraints on this right, which is enshrined in the Constitution.
The education policy debate should be located within the social structure and practice in various institutions such as schools, the family, the community, the Department of Basic Education, the business sector and organisations or bodies. It is at the community level that the position of schools can be understood and advanced in society. This relates to an education alliance that includes community involvement in transporting the learners, the role of women's co-operatives in producing school uniforms, the empowerment of the community, and the strengthening of local education and training units, which include teachers and learners. There is a need to strengthen management capacity to ensure working districts and schools. This entails bringing in management capacity from the private sector, civil society and elsewhere in the public sector.
There is a need to develop a social compact for quality education. This will include a national consultative forum dedicated to clarifying the non- negotiables and performance targets to key stakeholders, and the monitoring thereof.
The mobilisation of communities at all levels should be encouraged to raise awareness of and participation in education issues. Examples include graduates assisting their former schools; corporate social investment; ANC branch campaigns to clean up schools and support food gardens; and encouragement of young graduates to enter teaching. As was said, "Teach South Africa".
Schools can be useful resources for the surrounding communities. This relates to the possible sharing of resources, sports facilities and joint events. This partnership between schools and local community structures will build trust and a sense of ownership. Furthermore, it will eventually prevent school vandalism, violence and crime.
The following issues also need to be looked into in the context of community activism. One of the issues relates to the issue of no-fee schools, which has been a bone of contention. The way in which it is applied is not satisfactory in certain areas. Other concerns relate to other issues like the issue of teacher training; the renewal of powers of school governing bodies, which is crucial; discrimination against children on language grounds; and the issue of the education of the girl-child.
We also need to seriously look into the issue of combining the idea of nutrition with a basic health service in schools. Part of the problem is too much focus on the nutrition side without looking at the effects of ill health. Certain diseases can be taken care of quite easily with the right medical attention.
The issue of HIV and Aids in schools is one of the major challenges to all South African schools. In this regard the Constitution guarantees the right not to be unfairly discriminated against, the right to life and bodily integrity, the right to privacy, and the right to a safe environment in the best interests of the child.
There is a need to strengthen awareness, skills, values and attitudes in order for educators and learners to uphold the behaviour that will protect them from infection and to support the infected and affected.
Parts of the awareness programmes to be strengthened include HIV and Aids testing, admission and/or appointment of educators, the right to attend any school and the prevention of HIV and Aids transmission during play and sport.
The ANC election manifesto seeks to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by 50% through vigorous prevention campaigns. There is a commitment to accelerate health care for millions in schools. In order for this goal to be met and sustained, resources are required.
Azikho ke izixhobo ezikolweni zethu, Mphathiswa obekekileyo. Izikolo ezininzi zabantu abamnyama azinazo izixhobo ezaneleyo zokulwa ezi zifo. Mhlawumbi singatsho ukuba sibethwe lixesha esisuka kulo, ixesha localu- calulo. Kodwa ke, loo nto ayithethi ukuba asinakho ukwenza nto. Sasiqhele iziko elivuthayo localu-calulo, saloyisa. Asinakho ukoyiswa leli iziko. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[There are no resources in our schools, hon Minister. Many African schools do not have enough resources to fight these diseases. We might put the blame on our past, the apartheid regime. But that does not mean something cannot be done. We were used to the hostile environment of the apartheid regime, which we defeated. We cannot be defeated by this environment.]
With regard to the rural farm schools and transport infrastructure ...
... luthutho lwabantwana olungenzeki ngendlela eyiyo nolusidla kakhulu phaya ezilalini olu sithetha ngalo. Kodwa loo nto ayithethi ukuba asinakuba nabo abantwana abapasayo esikolweni. Sinawo umzekelo obonakala kakuhle eFreyistata. IFreyistata ineefama kodwa ikwazile ukwenza u-100% wezinga lokupasa kulo nyaka uphelileyo, u-2009 lo sisuka kuye. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[... we are talking about the transportation of schoolchildren in the villages, which is not functioning well. However, that does not mean we cannot have learners who are doing well at school. We have a good example in the Free State. The Free State is a farming province but it managed to achieve a 100% pass rate last year.]
The ANC election manifesto argues that by 2014 all schools should have basic infrastructure such as water and electricity because this can have an impact on education outcomes. It is possible to meet this challenge through the comprehensive rural development strategy to ensure that rural development is linked to the education system to promote an integrated system. Xa singasebenzisana singenza lukhulu. [Working together we can do more.]
Government should strengthen the transport system to ensure an effective and developed infrastructure. Farm schools and village schools could benefit from a comprehensive rural development strategy that attracts and retains skilful teachers, as revealed by the joint media statement of the teachers' unions. Discipline, professionalism and efficiency need to be encouraged in schools.
With regard to the state of the school governing bodies, SGBs, the SA Schools Act, Sasa, prescribes different but interlocking roles for school governing bodies and school management teams, SMTs, in the interests of the school. However, there have been tensions between school governing bodies and school management teams, due to perceived role overlaps in implementation of Sasa provisions.
Enhancing the culture of learning and teaching requires several interventions ranging from the provision of infrastructure to learner and teacher programmes to create safety at schools. Section 8 of the SA Schools Act of 1996 compels the governing body of a school to adopt a code of conduct for learners. In support of teachers, the department released examples of codes of conduct to schools and provided training and further guidance on alternative forms of discipline.
There is a need to strengthen the regulations for safety measures that focus on the safety of learners within school premises, particularly at public schools. Such measures also accommodate school tours and sporting activities.
The regulations will, among other things, ensure the following. Firstly, public schools must take reasonable measures to ensure that the safety of learners during tours and sporting activities includes insurance against accidents. Secondly, learners and educators who lead a school tour are not allowed to carry drugs, alcohol or weapons.
The ANC's national executive committee, NEC, January 8 Statement addresses the various state of the province addresses and demonstrates continued commitment to addressing some systematic challenges and the need to strengthen partnerships between schools and local communities. The 2009 matric results have confirmed these systematic challenges. In the area of the community, education partnership ... [Time expired.]
There is that watch there. I'm just urging the members to use it; it is very effective in managing your own time. Hon Mashamba, you may proceed with the debate.
Chairperson, hon Ministers and hon members, I come from Limpopo with the mandate to participate in this national debate and discussion on enhancing the culture of learning and teaching. I was mandated not to engage in politicking on education. I think that we have long since passed the stage where we talk about provincial issues as if we were a federal republic. We are a unitary republic, so we can't have more than one vision for our education system.
We took the approach that a healthy mind in a health body is equal to a healthy school and a healthy community. So, while it is important to look into the issues relating to the internal processes of our education system, it is also important to take into account the communities in which we find our schools.
As a result, we have noted that we do not - in our province at least, I do not know about the other provinces - as yet have adequate facilities for our schools.
We have noted one anomaly, which the MEC has probably pointed out, namely that whilst we are busy building state-of-the-art schools, there are, at the same time, kids who are still studying under conditions that are not desirable.
We find that because of the approach which we adopted, some of the schools we have built, even the ordinary schools, are collapsing. So we need to determine what needs to be done there.
I come from a rural province. We have found that there is a factor unique to our rural schools. It is that our children are not able to do their homework properly because Eskom has the tendency to provide electricity with a low voltage. This means that the poorest of the poor must actually upgrade their electrical hardware in order to make it possible for their children to do their homework.
Our roads infrastructure also needs to be taken into account because sometimes, if it rains in certain areas, kids are not able to go to school. That has an impact on their educational progress. We have also come to realise that the call for free and compulsory education is important, precisely because that will relay the question of patriotism. A child who was brought up and sent to school by his country, by the state, is likely to be grateful to the state and the people of the country, as compared to the child who was sent by a struggling mother or uncle. So the whole question of free education will actually have an important impact on the wellbeing of our country.
We also looked at the question of educators. We realised that while it is important for teachers to be au fait with their subject matter, the good teacher is one who does not only know the subject matter but also knows the community from which the students and the children come. This enables that teacher to understand the difficulties the learners encounter in the educational system.
We also noted that it is important for us to make sure that the department that deals with supplying water co-operates with the education department. For instance, at the school we built in Phalaborwa, there was no co- ordination with local government. The school cannot operate because local government says that it did not know that a school would be established there. So our intention in the future is to have better co-ordination with our local government.
On the language issue, we have come to realise that while it is important for students in the lower grades to learn in their mother tongue, we think that that is not sufficient. We must point out to our education department - I hope that this is their terrain - that there is nothing wrong with copying from the past. For instance, when the National Party came to power, it made sure that it did not reinvent chemistry, physical science, mathematics and so on. What it did was to translate all those textbooks into Afrikaans.
We do not see why these subjects cannot also be translated into our own languages. We should have a structure that deals with this so that we are able to go forward with our own languages. Our own languages should not be used as the language of learning only at the primary level.
We are also saying that we have too much policing in schools. It is not the way to go. We are not saying that it should not be there, but rather that it is necessary to heighten the social consciousness of communities instead, so that they are able to appreciate the importance of community.
We think that this can only be done if communities - not only students and teachers and so on - are organised. In this way we can make sure that our communities understand the importance of education.
We would also like to see adult education intensified in our province. These days, schoolchildren are given very difficult tasks to complete. It is difficult for children from a village because they lack not only material infrastructure but also human resources. Their parents - in many cases just the mother because the father is working either on the farms or the mines - are illiterate, as are so many of the people in the countryside. Some of the tasks that these learners are asked to perform require somebody who is actually au fait with the subject. So it is also important to understand the need for adult education in that light.
We think that it is important for us to guarantee better access to finances for our students in higher education. Not every rural village parent in my province will understand the dynamics of higher education. If the various provincial departments of education can take an interest in and take responsibility for following up on students who pass at the end of a year and make sure that they link them up with state resources that are available, they will contribute a great deal in making sure that our children access the funds that are available.
We have also seen that it will be important for us to redefine what we mean by the term "parent". When talking about the role of parents, we should say that a parent is not necessarily the blood parent of a child; it can even be somebody who is standing in loco parentis. In our communities we find that there are many retired people who are knowledgeable about education, but because they do not have children at school it is difficult for them to participate directly in schools. Yet those people who have children at school are not au fait with educational matters.
On the issue of feeding schemes, we feel that it is important to monitor what happens at our schools, especially our primary schools. At one of the schools we visited, we were told that according to the norms and standards guidelines of the education department, learners do not get meat. When we asked the feeding scheme people why this is so, they said it is specified in the menu from the department. Well, we approached the department and we were told that that was not the case.
We are happy that our province intends making sure that kids who go beyond primary school on to high school should also be provided with meals. A child does not suddenly become rich when he finishes primary school. Even learners at high schools in our communities do need food to be provided.
There is also the question of the ideological environment within which education takes place. Our TV, radio and print media promote the idea that they are very helpful in making sure that our children not only become skilled but also get moulded into useful citizens. However, when you watch TV, listen to the radio or read our newspapers, you find that the ideas are not helpful in building our young people into critical citizens of tomorrow. We hope that our education system is not there just to produce people who will go and sell their labour in the market; we hope that our education system will produce useful citizens.
We think that our education system should also produce politicians like us here, who, tomorrow, should provide the necessary environment within which our society can operate. Because if we don't have credible politicians, we will have a country that is run by those who make everything unstable.
I mention this now because in Limpopo, where I come from, it is disheartening to find that where student formations no longer function according to political ideas - maybe ideas from different political parties - the ethnic element is coming back. There are Zulu, Venda and Tsonga students' associations and so on. That, I think, is a recipe for disaster. Tomorrow we might end up having warlords all over the place, defending ethnic entities.
That is coupled to the tendering processes. We said that our schools are collapsing because, firstly, people who are awarded tenders do not do proper work. Secondly, because of the element of ethnicity, what will happen is that everybody will make sure that they do their level best to push their own narrow interests. That, in turn, may also strengthen ethnicity.
In order to address this situation, I think it is important for politicians to make sure that they make the population aware of the seriousness of education.
Insofar as internal processes are concerned, I think we agree with other provinces about what should be done at schools. Thank you.
Chairperson Baba Mahlangu, Minister Motshekga, MECs, hon members of the NCOP, ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed an honour to participate in this debate.
Excuse me, hon Minister. Yes, hon Sinclair?
I'm sorry to disrupt the hon Minister, but in terms of the speaker's list we have, the hon Plaatjie, is supposed to be speaking now.
Thank you, hon Sinclair. There was an agreement that the speakers' list would be changed, and a new speaker's list has been submitted to members. We will call Mr Plaatjie. Thank you very much. Hon Minister?
Thank you, Chair. It wasn't my intention to come and steal anyone's time today. [Laughter.] I was merely summoned and told when I would speak, so my apologies for the inconvenience to the hon member. We'll sort it out over tea one of these days.
Chairperson, thanks for your leadership in calling for this debate and discussion, because we know you for your passion to serve our people and, in particular, your passion for education. Let me take this opportunity to start by giving a short report to the House.
A few weeks ago the 2010 registration process that started the academic year at our universities, universities of technology and colleges was completed. For our fledgling department there were many lessons to be learnt from this period, particularly relating to the challenges facing students and institutions.
It is clear to us that there are no quick fixes and that many of these challenges cannot be addressed in the short term. We want to be upfront about that. We need to take into account that the higher education sector has grown significantly over the past 15 years, as there has been a significant increase in the intake of black and particularly female students, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds.
As a matter of fact, over the past 10 years female students have come to constitute the majority of students at all universities in the entire system. [Applause.] While this is a welcome development, we have become victims of our own success, because the infrastructure has not actually been able to keep up with the growth and increase in access.
I am pleased to share with you that we are, nevertheless, undertaking a number of measures to ensure that some of the fundamental problems besetting the higher education system are addressed and overcome.
When we conceptualised this department it was with the vision of a truly comprehensive and differentiated postschool system conjoining the education and training sectors. Allow me to emphasise this. We're trying to build a differentiated and flexible postschool system - not necessarily postmatric - to actually cater also for those youths who may not want to go back to school, but require opportunities. That is where we are trying to anchor the paradigm of this new Department of Higher Education and Training.
This is not only about access to postschool opportunities for the youth, but for adults as well. For this evolving system to meaningfully contribute to the lives of individuals, to the economy and to broader society, we are striving to ensure that all the work of our department is understood by addressing key interrelated issues which we want to mainstream into our postschool system. This includes addressing HIV and Aids, making sure that we respond to the needs of the disabled; and addressing the class, race and gender contradictions in South African society.
The primary goal of this administration is to improve access and success for particularly poor and rural students by moving from a racially elite system to a more inclusive system. Elements of this racial and class- defined system include low participation rates; distortions in the shape, size and distribution of access to education and training; and quality and inefficiency challenges in the system and its subsystems in the institutions.
It's important to emphasise this, especially the issue of access and success, because as things stand now statistics on hand show that 48% of the students who are supported by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme actually drop out of university - they don't finish, they don't complete their studies. So it is important that we do not just emphasise access, but also emphasise success in the system.
While government has made great strides towards redressing the apartheid legacy, many thousands of young people still bear the brunt of entrenched policies and practices designed to preserve privilege. This obviously has to change. While we worked to achieve a smoother registration period this year, a range of problems were encountered, from financial and academic exclusion to financial aid and accommodation shortages. As a department we set up a task team to monitor the 2010 registration process, and it was mandated to intervene in the event of upheavals on campuses. Allow me also to say that for the beginning of the 2011 academic year, I would really like to see hon members of the NCOP going out with us and visiting universities and FET colleges during the registration period, so that we can, for ourselves, have first-hand experience, especially of what happens during this period.
Ahead of and during the registration period, we met with various student formations and with Higher Education SA, which represents the vice- chancellors, and agreed to work together to address immediate challenges, as well as to seek long-term systemic interventions to ensure greater access, particularly for financially needy students.
One of the things we agreed on was that no academically deserving but financially needy student should be excluded from accessing a place in a college or university, in particular. [Applause.] In order to facilitate this as a department, we asked the NSFAS to advance registration fees for those students who qualified for NSFAS assistance. This is because the problem before was that a student qualified for NSFAS aid but had to pay R3 000 to R5 000 upfront; and poor students cannot afford that. I wish to say to members that any university that excludes a student who qualifies for NSFAS assistance on the grounds that that student has not paid registration fees will now actually be breaking the law in many respects.
Unfortunately, 23 universities had committed themselves to taking advantage of this upfront payment, but only 12 institutions took up the offer for the 2010 academic year, to the value of R180 million, to cover registration fees. Briefly, reports from the task team reveal some of the things that we know.
In some instances there was a lack of communication, for example between the stakeholders, students and university management. Sometimes there was no co-ordination between the various units of a university, like the finance section not co-ordinating with the faculties or financial aid offices.
A case we dealt with at one stage was of a student who got five distinctions in matric and was actually admitted to a university by the faculty, but when he went to the financial aid office they said they were no longer dealing with the first-years; that they had finished dealing with them the day before, and that he was no longer going to get anything. This student is an orphan, by the way. So the faculty office admits the student, but the financial aid office excludes the student.
These are some of the problems, and there are a lot of them. I do not have time to go through all of them, but the reason we are raising these things and reporting to you is to call upon our institutions, colleges and universities in particular to please treat applicants with care and humanity.
I want to raise this very sharply with the chairpersons of the university councils, particularly during the stressful opening registration period. I want to say, "You must treat students with care". Some of these universities got irritated - we had a lot of calls, because we had a dedicated phone line - when we approached them. It was as if we were harassing them. We want to say to them that this Zuma administration is a caring administration; no problem is small. [Applause.] If the President has a hotline, why can't each university create an office where complaints can be lodged for the institution to deal with?
We are saying this because we personally went to many institutions. We also wish to say that whilst we understand some of the frustrations faced by the students, we strongly condemn the violence and destruction of property that occurred during some of the protests, especially at the Tshwane University of Technology, the Mangosuthu University of Technology and the University of Zululand - and that's two institutions in KwaZulu-Natal. We don't want to give that province a bad name.
We encourage engagement rather than violence, which serves no purpose. We are determined to use this experience in order to address the larger systemic issues. For example, the NSFAS review committee report is now with us as a department, and we are studying it. It's a very interesting report. We will be releasing it for public comment next month, and we invite the House to also provide a platform to respond to those recommendations which, by the way, also deal with some of the matters that were being raised by the hon Gunda. I'm very happy that you focused on higher education.
We are equally concerned about NSFAS unspent monies. But some of the reasons for this are ironic, because they are owing to a lack of capacity at some of our former black universities. Ironically, where the money is needed most, there isn't enough capacity to be able to administer it. Another reason is the dropout factor: students who drop out midway and whose allocations therefore have to be returned. So we are looking at all those things and we are quite confident that we will be able to deal with them.
Let me use this opportunity to address the issue of transformation. This also affects the question of how NSFAS operates. For instance, most universities give only about half of the amount that the students want. As a result, we are sitting with just under R3 billion in student debt owing to universities. This NSFAS report will assist in telling us what we can do in order to address this in order to make sure that poor students do not have these kinds of stresses and are able to concentrate on the one thing that they go to university to do, which is to study and pass. We are convening a higher education summit next month, which will be opened by the President, bringing all the stakeholders together. We have never done this before. This summit will bring together trade unions, management and university councils in order for us to agree on what we mean by transformation and what the challenges are and, it is hoped, emerge with a charter. We want to feed all these matters into that process.
Related to this, by the way, is another challenge for our department. ``Postschool'' must not only mean university. That is the problem we have at the moment - that some children who don't get matric exemption, which we do want them to get, even commit suicide because they see no other way out. That is why we are going to grow the FET college sector from the current 420 000 students to at least one million students, if not more, by 2014. [Applause.] We will elaborate on these things when we table our strategic plan for 2010 to 2015 and when we have our Budget Vote debate in this Parliament.
Let me end by saying that one of the most important things, which was not announced this week, is that we are forming the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations to actually recognise and accredit workplace training, which is normally not properly recognised.
I would also like to end my speech by saying that this House is very important to me and to us, because you are actually closer to where these colleges and universities are. There's no place that is national, because institutions are located in particular areas. So please be partners with us. Thank you very much for inviting us. Siyabonga. [Applause.]
Thank you, hon Minister. Now, hon Plaatjie, you are the most important person to come to respond to the debate of the Minister. [Laughter.]
Chairperson, allow me to start this debate by borrowing words from a famous actor, Michael J Fox, who said, and I quote: I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for, perfection is God's business.
At times we import models and ready-made curriculum solutions without much considering our own situation. In pursuit of the solution to the problem of the culture of learning and teaching in our schools, we need to start from the basics. Beyond the technical support, which most of the speakers have alluded to, for example school fees, bursaries, learner transport, etc, the prerequisite for a culture of learning is the mastery of vocabulary. This is the long and short of the matter.
Where there is a severe vocabulary deficit, the culture of learning is seriously undermined. If the department wishes to enhance the culture of learning and teaching in our schools, they must pay particular attention to vocabulary. It is the foundation on which the educational superstructure rests. Where there is no foundation, the building collapses. In business it is a lack of capital that restrains the entrepreneurs. However, in education it is lack of vocabulary that impedes and frustrates learners.
In most cases, the South African curriculum dictates that children need to acquire a mother tongue and, thereafter, English for educational and commercial reasons. Many children are defeated here. Learning one language is hard enough. To master two languages poses a very steep challenge. The culture of learning in South Africa generally flourishes in the little pockets where families are better resourced and where children have access to literature. It also flourishes where they are exposed to good spoken language.
Cope is advocating an activist state. In an activist state, the state actively supports the development of community leaders and cascades bureaucracy so that all efforts to tackle the problems can be joined at the local level.
The present government is relying only on the top-down mechanism and is, therefore, failing. Cope would have removed VAT on books for children and encouraged nonprofit companies to produce easily accessible literature for children. If the problem of vocabulary is solved, the problem of enhancing the culture of learning and teaching will be resolved.
Let me come to the problem of funding poor learners in higher education. Every week this government is embarrassed because whatever is meant for the poor is grabbed by those who are already wealthy within that circle that is close to government.
Cope agrees that we should create support for the poor, but we insist that total transparency should prevail. According to the Sowetan a few weeks ago, in Mpumalanga an MEC, Pinky Phosa, pressured her head of department to award her future son-in-law a bursary. Has the government acted on this? Why are wealthy learners always prioritised?
In the activist state that Cope envisages, ordinary people will have a great deal more power than at present. We are committed to a state where people shall really govern and where people will be active in their own cause.
In conclusion, I will address the question of teaching. Cope insists that colleges of education be reopened; teachers' certificates be upgraded at least after two years; and every classroom must have immediate access to the Internet so that they are able to facilitate teaching and learning.
We have lost 16 years. We owe it to Madiba to create a golden republic and not to slide towards a banana republic. I thank you. [Applause.]
Chairperson, hon Ministers, MEC Grant and hon members, Hannah Arendt said that education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for and by the same token save it from ruin. Furthermore, through the education we provide we can decide whether we love our children enough to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world, or whether through our failure to provide them with educational opportunities we expel the children from our world and leave them to their own devices by striking from their hands their chances of making something new, something unforeseen by us.
These words were said by a famous educationist, one Hannah Arendt; and they could well have been said to all of us seated here today about the situation with regard to higher education in the Northern Cape.
Education is an investment for the future. It is a delivery system that transfers wisdom, culture, norms, values, expectations and the vision of one generation to the next. It is through education that the development of our human resource capital, which is so critical in our country and in our province at this point, can be enhanced, thus making it possible for us to fight and defeat poverty and adequately redress past inequalities and discrimination.
It is against this background that we have embarked on a path to advocate for the establishment of a university in the province. Amongst the main aims of this drive is a desire to develop innovative and critical thinkers, producers and users of knowledge with the capacity to shape the future of our province, our country, the whole of Africa and the world at large.
The recent global recession made it blatantly clear to many of us that the success of our country depends on the innovativeness of our people rather than on the abundance of labour or its natural resources, as was evident with our major banks in the country.
We need to continue to develop a critical mass of human resources possessing skills that are required to compete favourably in the global economy. That is the surest way of building a strong economy that is growing and sustainable, and capable of creating the jobs we need to drastically alter the socioeconomic conditions under which many of our people continue to live.
To this end we have just identified as our starting point the establishment of a university in the province. It is of particular significance that the call for the establishment of such an institution should be in resonance the 20th anniversary of the release of Nelson Mandela. It is in line with the collective honour that we, together with the whole world, continue to bestow on this iconic symbol of freedom and democracy that we shall accordingly, together with the members of this House, intensify our efforts to establish an institution of higher learning.
We are fully aware of the enormity of the challenge that still lies ahead of us. But working together with our communities, the private sector stakeholders and other formations, we remain convinced that the initiative for which we plead for your support today will go a long way in ensuring that higher education, in the form of a university education, becomes accessible to more and more of our young people.
Hon members, we are of the firm belief that, upon completion, this university must and will become a centre for educational excellence and diligence. Out of this university must come engineers, geologists, artisans and mine managers who will take full advantage of the emerging mining potential in our province, the Northern Cape.
We shall overcome the obstacles relating to the provision of quality education especially for the poor and the vulnerable. Again, out of this university there should come agricultural economists and animal health inspectors who will take full advantage of our province's strong agricultural sector.
This institution of higher learning must also help us in addressing the scarce skills currently experienced in our province as well as the rest of the country by producing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health practitioners so that we are able to provide quality health care to all our people.
It must also help us to produce educators, school managers, subject specialists, and so forth, so that we do not suffer from a shortage of teachers to teach our children. We also need social workers and other community-based workers to help us address many of the social ills within our communities; and accordingly this university must also produce these critical skills.
The message we are communicating today in this House is that, upon completion, this institution of higher learning must not and will not become a white elephant. It must in a real sense seek to instil values and skills that can only take our province and our country forward. If we educate our nation, and in particular our young people, we would have won a greater cause for our social and economic transformation agenda, and such a university will offer us the best opportunity of doing so.
The pass rate that we achieved in our province in the 2009 Grade 12 examination is well documented, as have been the reasons for the decline. It is certainly not my intention to proffer any excuses for the steep decline in the results. However, the most compelling factor that influenced learner performance was the inevitable cost-containment measures required to offset projected and real over-expenditure as articulated in our earlier statement.
It is certainly my intention to lead a turnaround strategy, central to which is our refocus on taking educational decisions on basic school functionality. We are determined to improve the management of our schools as well as ensuring that the non-negotiables, as articulated by our President, are strictly adhered to: Managers must manage, teachers must teach, learners must learn, and parents must take a keener and deeper interest in their children's education.
Accordingly, our officials at district and provincial offices will ensure that learner and teacher support materials are delivered to schools on time. Furthermore, we will introduce and roll out our matriculation intervention programme, as well as intensify our programme for learner achievement, focusing on literacy and numeracy outcomes in Grades 3 and 6, and strengthening the Foundations for Learning Campaign.
We will further ensure that our district offices are appropriately capacitated to roll out support to schools. In line with our premier's directives in the state of the province address, we will continue on our path to stabilise the administration of the department to ensure that sufficient and effective support and administrative systems are in place to guarantee learner performance. Learner performance, as was emphasised, must and will be by design and not by default.
As one of the major medium- to long-term strategies of ensuring that the province never again records such a poor statistic, we reviewed the establishment of a university as one area that will further assist us to ensure that every classroom has a competent and qualified teacher in all the critical subject areas.
Such a university, through its development programmes, will enable our educators to continue to sharpen and deepen their subject knowledge and enable them to deliver a quality education to our learners. We remain optimistic about the success of such a university because of the various programmes that our National Institute for Higher Education has already put in place. They will assist us to make a smooth transition to the establishment of a university.
Hon members, your valued support for this cause will ensure that thousands of young people are given hope for a brighter and a better tomorrow, born out of investment in a good education. Your tangible support in this regard will ensure that we avert the sad and gloomy picture of reality that is currently being experienced by many of our young people, as portrayed in a poem written by a young boy when he says:
Reality is the long walk home And tired feet that hurt. It's back to the grime And the dust and the dirt. It's back to the home Where nobody cares. It's back to where Hardship is common And knowledge is rare.
It is our collective belief that your efforts, voices and support will in the not too distant future enable this boy to proclaim and say: "Thank you, hon member, for always making me strive to be my best. It was you, hon member, who made me always smile. I am now educated to think critically. I am equal to my peers and can walk with dignity. I have learnt to be a reasonable and active citizen for what I see and understand, and that has changed me and made me a better citizen." I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Thanks for your speech, hon member. When I ring these bells I do it with great respect for the MECs to indicate that their time has expired!
UMntwana M M M ZULU: Mphathisihlalo, mhlonishwa Mabhoko, mhlonishwa uNgqongqoshe okhona lapha weMfundo yamaBanga aPhansi, abahlonishwa abangoNgqongqoshe beziFundazwe abaqhamuka eziFundazweni zezwe lethu ezahlukene. Mhlonishwa Sihlalo kufuneka ngiyibongele le Ndlu ngoba wakwazi ukuba usihole kahle ukuze kukwazi ukuthi nathi kuleli lizwe lakithi sixoxe ngezinto ezibalulekile ezisezintsha futhi kithina, ngenxa yalokho nje ngithi kuwe, Mabhoko!
UMthethosisekelo wethu wezwe ukubala njengelungelo lokuqala ukuba wonke umuntu abe nokukwazi ukuthi afunde ezikoleni zezwe lethu. Yize-ke noma umuntu ehlezi ebhentshini labaphikisayo, kodwa kunezinto eziyiqiniso ongeke waziphikisa njengokuthi nje kukhulu okuzanywayo ukuba kwenziwe kuleli lizwe kodwa kufuneka sibambisane sonke njengabantu abakhethiwe kuleli lizwe ukuba sime ndawonye sisebenze sifuqe lonke lolu donga olwakhiwa wubandlululo kuleli lizwe lakithi,ukuze siqede isifo sokungazi. Njengomuntu omele elinye lamaqembu akuleli lizwe, abantu abamnyama, ngazi kahle kamhlophe ukuthi imfundo yabantu abamnyama yayisibulala kangakanani ukuze singabi nalo ulwazi.Umuntu ofundile lapha eNyuvesi yakwaZulu Ongoye -kade esho umhlonishwa ukuthi badume ngokuba uma benza udlame babulale yonke into - wayephuma neZiqu engazi nokuthi angenzani ethembele ukuthi kufuneka ahambe ayofuna umsebenzi, kanti kufuneka ukuthi uma uphuma esikhungweni semfundo ephakeme, ukwazi ukuzisiza wena uqobo, ungathembele ekutheni uyosizwa uhulumeni kuphela.
Kufanele sibonge ukuthi uhulumeni wethu uzamile ngoba bheka nje, uNgqongqoshe wethu kuleli sonto eledlule, ngoLwesithathu wabele lo Mnyango wethu wezeMfundo izigidigidi ezingama-R165 kulo nyaka wezimali ukuze ukwazi ukusiza abantu abakithi. Sengishesha nje ngoba isikhathi asisekho, kunezikole zasemakhaya la engizalwa khona, emakhaya 'ezilalini' ngesiXhosa, angazi-ke ngezinye izilimi lapho abantu bakhona besahlupheke kakhulu ngoba asinayo ngisho imitapoyolwazi ezikoleni zethu. Yize noma sekukhona izikole lapho sekufundiswa izinto ezinjengokushisela nokunye kodwa asikwazi ukuthi sibe semazingeni aphezulu njengezinye izikole ngenxa yokuswela ulwazi.
Okunye yizinkalo ezihanjwa yizingane zethu bakithi; izingane zethu zize zihambe zilala yonke imigwaqo le ngoba zihamba amakhilomitha angaphezu kwayishumi nantathu ngezinyawo ziya ezikoleni. Kuyobangcono ukuba Ngqongqoshe izifundazwe lezi ukwazi uzelusalusa ngoba azizimele ukuze wazi ukuthi zenzani ukusiza ukuthi izikole zibe seduze kwabantu bakithi
Kuleli lizwe lethu kufuneka futhi siwabhekisise amanyuvesi ethu lawa, sibheke nabahlohli bakhona nokuthi yini balahlele laphaya ekudeni izingane zethu uma zizama ukungena emanyuvesi. Phela uma zifika nezifundo zoLwazi Lwempilo zithathwa njengento engekho nje, noma ngabe isitifiketi sengane siyayivumela ukuba ingene enyuvesi kodwa uma kubalwa amaphuzu okungena enyuvesi lawa Ulwazi Lwempilo akabalwa nhlobo. Yizo zonke Ngqongqoshe izinto okufanele nizibheke ukuze sikwazi ukuthi sigqugquzele konke lokho esikumele thina njengabantu abamnyama baleli lizwe ukuze izwe lethu liye phambili.
Mhlonishwa Mabhoko,ngibonga kakhulu ukuba umuntu acoshe leli thuba ngoba uma ngizoma lapha ngithi ngizophikisa, ngabe ngenza ihlazo nje ezweni ngoba ihlazo akufuneki lenziwe ezweni.[Ihlombe.](Translation of isiZulu speech follows.)
[Prince M M M ZULU: Chairperson, hon Mabhoko, hon Minister of Basic Education present here today, hon Ministers from the different provinces of our country; hon Chair, I must commend you on behalf of this House because you managed to lead us well, which enabled us to discuss the important matters of our country, which are still new to us. That is why I salute you by saying, Mabhoko!
Our country's Constitution states that access to education is a fundamental right. There are facts that opposition parties cannot deny with regard to what has been achieved in this country. But we have to work together as the elected so that we can stand together and eradicate the ravine that was caused by apartheid, and we must also eliminate ignorance. As a representative of one of this country's parties that represent black people, I know very well how Bantu education destroyed us and that we lack knowledge. Graduates from the University of Zululand - Ongoye, as the Minister mentioned - are well known for inciting violence and once they start they destroy everything and would graduate without the necessary skills, and his or her only hope would be to find employment. If you leave an institution of higher education you are supposed to be self-reliant and should not rely on the government to assist you. We must be grateful that our government has tried because our Minister allocated an amount of R165 billion to the Department of Education in this year's Budget Speech last Wednesday.
I'll be quick now because my time is running out. There are schools where I was born in the rural areas called "ezilalini" in isiXhosa - I don't know what they are called in other languages - where people are suffering immensely because we do not even have libraries in our schools. Even though there are schools where things like welding and other courses are offered, we are unable to reach the higher standard like other schools because of the lack of knowledge.
The distance our children have to walk is another issue. Our children end up sleeping along the way because they have to walk more than 13 kilometres to school. It would be better, Minister, if you could monitor these provinces, because they are not independent, so that you know what they are doing in order to assist with having schools nearer to our people.
Our country's universities also need to be scrutinised. Check their assessors and why they do not consider our children when they apply for admission to these universities. Subjects like life orientation are not considered, even if the child's certificate shows a university entrance. Life orientation points are not considered at all when they calculate entrance points. Minister, these are all issues that need to be addressed. And we should encourage all those whom we are representing as black people of this country in order for them to advance.
Hon Mabhoko, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. If I could stand here to oppose, I would be a disgrace to this country because we do not need that in this country. [Applause.]]
Chairperson of the NCOP, Mr Mahlangu, the Deputy Chair in her absence, the Chief Whip, Members of Parliament present, the two MECs who are here - thank you very much, colleagues - our guests, and ladies and gentlemen, now that the Chairperson has cut down my time from 20, as initially indicated, to 15 minutes, let me start off by responding to some of the comments made by colleagues so that if I run out of time, the speech will be for circulation.
I want to start off by expressing appreciation for the contributions that have been made by members with regard to basic education, which does confirm our belief that the success of the sector of education will start where it begins, which is with basic education.
We are not oblivious to the challenges that are confronting us, but are grateful that all of us appreciate that basic education remains very basic to our success. Therefore, the partnership that we can get here with members, provinces and colleagues will go a long way.
I want to respond to a few things that have been raised by colleagues without necessarily debating them. I want to emphasise that we should not mislead ourselves and say that the whole system is in a crisis. That is why we keep on misleading people. It's the education of the African child that is in crisis. We have to note that so that our attention and support are focused on that.
The education of children in other communities still remains quite good. That is what is holding the system together. We appreciate that. However, we should not create an impression that there is a huge crisis, with everybody crying wolf, when there is no wolf. The wolf is in African schools, and that is where we are supposed to be focusing our energies. That is where the crisis is.
I will also be failing in my task if I fail to appreciate premiers. I think we are privileged as a sector because of all the things that premiers do in provinces. I can assure you that they chose the best that was there in their parties.
We have a very good team of MECs, very dedicated and hardworking MECs, and all of them rise above politics. That makes me very hopeful that, nationally, whether the DA or the ANC is in power, we will indeed overcome because we have a team of very strong MECs in all the provinces, who are doing their best to get the system going. For that, I must really say to the NCOP, which is in a way focusing on the provinces, that we have a very strong team nationally. All our MECs have been able to rise above provincial differences. All MECs are aware of the fact that we are saying education is every child's right, and every child has to have access to quality education.
We can say with pride that most provinces have been submitting their turnaround strategies. It's going to be useful at our next camp to look at what lessons we learnt from one another and how we can strengthen the sector and move out from there. My appeal, and excitement, when I was invited to come here, was to interact with the members of the NCOP on how we can make education a societal issue, mobilise everybody across political divides on the issue, and also look at the things that we should be doing.
Amongst the things that I want to raise - which are also ``wolves'' that people create - is that the reasons for underperforming are quite different. I want to advise members that when they pay a visit to schools which are dysfunctional, I can tell you the reasons they are going to give you. You can even write the report before you go in - I'm responding to you, Comrade Chair - it is poverty, unemployment, crime, teenage pregnancy, etc. They are all going to tell you the same story. It's going to be about everything else but them. If you go to a highly functional school, they won't even tell you about how they have fought criminals, fed children or stopped pregnancies; they will tell you that it's teamwork, dedication, hard work, etc. That is what they will all tell you. What has happened during the visits that we've been undertaking with colleagues is that we went into the real substance, which told us what the problems were. Don't even ask them what the problems are; go and find out where they are. Go to the time books and see if those very teachers have been on time and on task all the time. Teachers don't attend school. That is what we've been saying quite regularly.
We want to mobilise colleagues and say that as you make education a societal matter, go to the time books and see which teachers have been coming to work, which ones have been leaving on time and which ones have been staying. Go to the children's books. Don't ask questions; go to the children's books and see if they have been writing. Don't use any anecdotal stories because they won't help you. They will tell you stories which are not useful. Your school visits won't be useful unless you have a structured approach on how you are going to get the results.
As I get to the speech, I will also highlight that, as a department, we are positioning ourselves to make sure that when we say that education must be a societal issue, with our provincial structures, we are able to interact with communities in ensuring that as we mobilise people we are able to work together in making sure that education is a societal issue.
Check books and talk to learners; they are the ones who know what is happening in the classrooms. There is no way even the principal can know which teachers speak on their cellphone, which teachers don't come to the class, or which teachers talk about their children. It's only the learners who can tell you. So don't even ask them; go to the learners, they will tell you the story. You will know what the truth is.
I'm also saying to our people that poverty is being used as an excuse. I keep on saying that we should intercept poverty. It's been there; it will be here forever. That is what they are going to say to us. The main focus of education is teaching and learning. That is what the whole thing is about. My colleagues from the provinces will tell you that the only thing the top school in the country, which is in the Western Cape, and an African school in Limpopo, which is in the top 10 category, share between them is not good infrastructure, it's not teachers - Sadtu will tell you that we have been giving them "microwave" training - what is common between them is discipline and focus on the task.
With poor infrastructure and poor communities, what is common between the top schools in the Western Cape and in Limpopo, in the deep rural areas, is not infrastructure; not poverty. It's discipline and being on task and on time all the way. This means that that is what works. As people move into making education a societal matter, we also want them to assist us in ensuring that our teachers are on time and on task all the time, as the President has been calling for.
We will indeed address infrastructure. I will be talking to that quite shortly. But that is not what schools that succeed tell us has been their success story. It's not the amount of infrastructure. Some of the schools where we have put the top infrastructure- high-level infrastructure, which hon Mashamba was talking about- don't necessarily give us results. This means that it is not where we have to go and look for results. We have to go and look for results on what works.
Having said that, let me quickly get into what I had prepared for the debate and possibly also reflect on what members have said so that members should not say that I have not reflected on what they have said. I have taken note. Some of it is good counsel. I don't think I need to respond to that, but it is just something we need to take into consideration as we plan. If I don't respond, it's not because it's not important; we have taken notes and we will factor it into our planning.
The decline in our 2009 matric results from 62% in 2008 to 60% in 2009, which really got me into hot water, necessitates that we look into new strategies at all levels in the system to address the old issue of how we can enhance the culture of learning and teaching in our schools and improve outcomes. That's why most of our MECs are engaging in the things they will do differently to get different outcomes. Again I am proud that most of our MECs have been engaging with what is to be done differently to get different outcomes.
The strides we have made by dismantling the apartheid legacy are undermined by the fact that we are not getting the results that we are looking for. We are proud that we have turned around the massive repetition problem in the early 1990s in the early grades. In Grade 1, overall enrolment has dropped from 165% to 114%.
We have lots of repetition in the system - kids just failing between grades, and because they are not measured at Grade 12, people are not aware that we have a lot of wastage in the system. We are improving that quite drastically. The number of children who continue their schooling into the last three years of high school has increased remarkably. Again, Chair, this goes back to your point on what happened to the one million kids who were missing between Grades R and 12. Some of them go to further education and training, FET, colleges; they do not necessarily go to matric. It is how the system works. If you calculate from Grade 1 to Grade 12, it won't add up to 1:1 because some of them divert, thereby becoming 1:0,5 in the middle. We are also quite concerned about the fact that some of them do indeed drop out.
We are proud that between 1970 and now we have improved the enrolment or retention rates from 30% to 90%. That is why in the township schools we find that we have a crisis with high schools. This is because the planning was for three primary schools to one high school. We knew that only one third was going to reach high school. It's only now that we are having lots of blockages, hence the huge infrastructure backlog, because the retention and number of kids going up to matric have increased almost threefold. Whereas only one third went up to matric, two thirds now go up to matric; but yes, we are worried about the third that does not reach matric.
Even though we score badly - we also get lambasted for things that we tell the world - it's we who presented ourselves for the international tests so we could benchmark ourselves. Indeed, when the results came back, we were not happy at all. The picture, as Nick Taylor has just recently written, is nuanced. We have not gone back, but we have not improved either.
Again, people just want to glorify the old apartheid days. What was working under apartheid is still working. White education was working. Black education did not work under apartheid. We have not been able to make drastic moves, and that we admit. But we should not create a sense that we have reversed. We have not, but we are not making the improvements that we want.
Again, others will cry wolf with us that there is a crisis when they know things are going very well in their education system. Education in white communities is going very well. Fifteen years down the line, life for white people is still hunky-dory and very good. We are happy about that, but the crisis is, as I have said, in black education. Therefore, that is what we need to address. The point I'm trying to make is that we have not reversed, but we have not improved either.
Quality continues to be our biggest challenge. That has been raised by different members. I want to quickly run through the things that we are trying to do, together with our provinces, in addressing the things that we want to do differently to achieve different results. We admit that the results we are getting are not the results that we are looking for. We want more, hence we are prepared to work harder, faster and smarter. We therefore will run through the things that we are doing in working harder, faster and smarter.
One of the main things that we are working on with provinces is what we call the Basic Education Action Plan. With regard to this plan, which we are working on with provinces, we will have to monitor it with you as Parliament and support provinces in the implementation of the targets.
The first target involves the Rapid Assessment and Remediation Initiative. We are looking at schools that performed below 20%. The Western Cape, Gauteng and some other provinces don't have that major problem; it is in some of our bigger rural provinces. In the Western Cape, there was only one school; in Gauteng, there was also one school below 20%. In other provinces, for instance in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, we have more than 500 schools which performed below 20%. Through this programme, we are looking at the Rapid Assessment and Remediation Initiative through which we can intervene in those schools, see what the problems are and, this time, decisively act on those problems and correct the situation.
We are looking at ways of improving our national senior certificate, NSC. One of the causes, as we have already highlighted, is around the grouping and subject choices that our children make. Some of the kids, because we emphasise maths and science, even though they want to do law, also want to do maths. They are not sure what they are doing physical science for. This is to help our children make the correct choices and combinations which are relevant to their future.
We also want to improve the teaching in those subjects, because we still have lots of problems in the teaching of maths, science, accounting and English. We are looking at all those interventions which we have to make with regard to improving our national senior certificate.
We have already spoken a lot about curriculum implementation support. You will recall that every other person who had an interest in education raised concerns about the curriculum. We can say with pride that we have identified what the problems are. We are addressing them and have a clear programme in addressing all the issues or challenges around the curriculum.
Again, we are looking at teacher development support. Anybody who is in education will tell you that the system stands and falls on teachers. You can have everything else, but if your teachers cannot perform, you have a problem. They are your tools of labour. If you have a taxi, but your driver doesn't drive, you are out of business. Teachers remain the core and the most important factor in our education system. We are working on progress and need to look at teachers.
There are major infrastructure issues which we have inherited. I have just highlighted some of the challenges around our infrastructure. As much as we had a backlog of poor infrastructure that we inherited from apartheid and homeland governments, we also had to create new infrastructure to cope with overexpansion. The education system has multiplied threefold since we took over. That two thirds that used to drop out under apartheid, or those many kids who were not able to go to school because they had to pay fees, are now able to go to school. Our infrastructure has not been able to cope with the expansion that we have. As a result, we have not been able to correct or remedy the infrastructure that we inherited from apartheid.
We have, again, a massive programme that we are beginning to co-ordinate nationally to assist provinces to deliver the infrastructure that we have. We are excited that the Presidency and Treasury have committed to using the capacity that was used to build the stadia to intervene in schools. As soon as the stadia programme is cleared, we are going to use the same capacity to intervene in schools. Through capacity, we are confident that we will begin to address some of our major infrastructural backlogs that for years we have been unable to deal with.
We have also spoken about the adult literacy programme, and colleagues have also raised it. We have a very successful programme, which we call "Kha Ri Gude", which is meant to break the back of illiteracy amongst adults. It's going very well. We will give you a report next time.
The other matter that I want to raise is around the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, Needu. It has also been spoken about quite a lot vis--vis the inspectorate. I thought I should speak to you about what Needu is and what it is not. We will shortly operationalise Needu, which will start off immediately with the Rapid Assessment and Remediation Initiative to assess where the problems are and create and develop measures to intervene in those schools. There have been lots of discussions about what Needu will and will not do.
Needu is a mandate that we received as the ruling party in Polokwane to establish a National Education Evaluation and Development Unit for the purposes of monitoring, evaluation and support. It will be a professional facility dedicated to doing precisely that. It will evaluate everybody. So, inspection will fall under it. Inspection is not the be-all and end-all. It's going to evaluate anything in the system from the national department to the provincial departments, educators and the whole system in its entirety.
It has an element of development in that where it picks up problems, it will help us design development initiatives. If our problem, when we do an inspection, is about the capacity of our teachers, we will know what to do with it. If it's about the capacity of our officials, what do we do with it? That's what Needu is going to be doing. We are already making it operational.
Again, we'll be very happy to come and raise that with you when we have more time so that we don't take much of your time now. Needu's role will be to assess and develop strategies for the improvement of the quality of educational outcomes and support schools to achieve these.
We are proud to say that we have built up the national Department of Basic Education, but systems and structures of that single department do not speak to the objectives that we want to achieve. To ensure that the national department is able to fulfil its mandate in line with the mandate of Basic Education, it has become imperative to strengthen departmental capacity at national, provincial and district levels. We are working with our provinces to ensure that they are positioned to support schools, as much as we are working hard to position ourselves to support provinces.
We have restructured the national department to enable it to meet its core constitutional mandate of setting national policy and monitoring it, and evaluating all provinces and the entire basic education system. That is our mandate; it's in the Constitution, and we do it nationally. We set up policies; we monitor everybody; we evaluate everybody.
Again, as I said, we are quite privileged that from where I stand we have major co-operation with our provinces. So that it should not be a major issue as to how we co-ordinate the system to make it work well. We are working with provinces to ensure that they too are properly positioned and structured to implement national policies aimed at supporting schools.
What we have found out is that our provinces, all of them, have structured themselves in different ways. Some have got themselves into a corner in the way they have structured themselves. They are not able to do the task that they are supposed to be doing. You find that within the same province different regions have different structures, capacities or resourcing strategies. We are working with provinces to ensure that we have the best structure nationally to ensure that we are indeed able to respond.
Chairperson, I do not want to take advantage of the fact that you gave me more time. Let me move to the last point, which is about the 2010 World Cup and our ``schools cup'' adventure.
We are doing the countdown and, again, making 2010 exciting for schools. We are inviting you to join us in our 2010 Football World Cup School Adventure where all provinces are involved. Already, each province has symbolically adopted some of the 2010 Fifa World Cup participating nations. Between now and May 2010, I hope that learners and teachers in the whole school community will have learnt about the adopted countries and their people.
My 2010 School Adventure will culminate in an exciting football competition in May 2010, in which teams of learners from each province will play one another in the South African Schools Football World Cup. We will precede or maybe even pre-empt the winning country, because each province is going to be representing one of the competing countries. Perhaps the winning province will be giving the lucky country the luck to win!
I want to assure you that the school year has not been shortened in 2010, which was the concern of most people. We have compensated for the time that we will lose by increasing the numbers within the terms that are there. We have not lost much time regarding 2010, which has been the concern for most communities.
In closing, in line with the President's call for education to be made a societal matter, we are appealing to political parties and individual politicians in the House to go out there and help us to mobilise constituencies to make education a societal matter.
I am saying to all opposition parties that we can fight about everything else, but let us not fight about this matter. Let's just ensure that every child has the right to education. Education is the human right of every child. We can make our politics on everything else but not on this issue, by protecting education as a national asset and at least as one thing that unites us as South Africans. We are appealing for education to be the one thing that unites us, all of us.
For our part, we are supporting communities through the social mobilisation branch of our department. We are strengthening our school governing bodies, SGBs, and learner representative councils, LRCs, and creating a forum of nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, academics and business to interact with us and give the support that they want to give in provinces in a co- ordinated manner.
We are systematically working to make education a societal matter, and we trust that you will play your part in this momentous task of turning the system around and making us a nation proud of our education achievements, because at the end of the day we are all South Africans.
We can differ on everything else. We are appealing, again, for this to be a unifying factor. We are committed, as a department, to playing the game. Again, I am appealing to communities, and especially to activists, comrades and politicians who are here to say that this is a South African one and not a political one. Let's work together on it. I thank you, Chair. [Applause.]
Hon Minister, you will agree with me that it wasn't a waste of time that I used my discretion to give the Minister a little more time because this is the information that we wanted, and that's the reason why I called for this debate. We want to thank you, Minister, for the time you shared with us. That's exactly what we wanted to hear. Now we know what to do when we go back to our constituencies.
Ngiyaqolisa baba uMasuku ekubekezeleni kwakho noMashamaite. Seningavala-ke niphendule uNgqongqotjhe ngombana niqakatheke khulu. [Ihleko.] [Iwahlo.] [My apologies to Mr Masuku for having to be patient, together with Mr Mashamaite. You can now close and respond to the Minister because you are very special. [Laughter.] [Applause.]]
Chairperson, hon Minister of Basic Education, Minister of Higher Education and Training in absentia and the members who are my colleagues, I was worried that ...
... uma ubiza uNdabezitha bese ubiza uNgqongqoshe bonke bangoNgqongqoshe. [... if you call him Ndabezitha [your majesty], and then you call a Minister, they are all in charge.]
My work was going to be very difficult, but they assisted me in a number of areas that I was worrying about. When I grew up, I was taught that, Ndabezitha, in this land where we are, people were living in it somewhere in 1652. They were just told that they had been discovered, and their land had been discovered. I was worrying, this year, when I heard that a particular province had discovered the culture of learning.
I think the Minister has helped us with this one by saying to us that all these things are ours. I was worrying because I was wondering and asking myself: If we say the culture of education has been discovered now, what happened in 1955 when we said the doors of education and culture would be opened? I was asking myself if that wasn't about the culture that we should be talking about? I was very worried when we were talking about recent discoveries, but you have covered us, Minister.
One of the things that you have also covered on that discovery is that the Freedom Charter that spoke about education in 1955 also said that when our children are educated - we actually have to educate them to respect our country and our people, and also ensure that they are capacitated to participate with other people of the world - they must showcase their talent to the world, and that sporting event, which the Department of Education has started, is spot-on.
Minister, I am a product of a tree because my first class was under a marula tree, and the second class that I went through was in a church, and the third one was under another marula tree, and the fourth one was under an acacia tree. Therefore, I understand what you mean when you talk about unsafe structures.
It is important that when we deal with this issue of education, as you have said, the limitation on our politicking about it becomes very important because at some point when I was attending, I was staying in a forestry village. I used to walk to a high school that was on the other side of the town. I used to find my fellow scholars standing by the road to be taken by a school bus. The school bus was actually taking them to a school that was nearer than my school. That school was actually the best when you looked at it. The issues that you have covered, Minister, clarify that we are dealing with history and a particular section of our society that has suffered. That is why, when we deal with this matter, I ask myself if that wasn't an ideological focal factor that was putting us there.
Therefore, we don't need an ideology to reverse that. Is the Constitution not addressing that matter to allow us not to fight against these ideologies that are actually competing in that particular situation? Then I asked myself if I still have to bring in my ideology. Yes, do I still have to throw in my ideology in terms of my thinking when I was saying the doors of education must be opened? What happened to Ermelo, when it was said that in my province other children should not be taught in other languages? Then I was asking myself if it is an ideology or not. Is it not something that we have to counter?
I want to say that in Mpumalanga we also draw our mandate from what the President and the Minister have said about the framework that we have actually set. What is good about it is that many colleagues were asking me why my human settlement is here. In Mpumalanga, education is the business of every one of us. Whatever we do, we actually said to ourselves that we are going to focus on that, and we are going to place education and skills and development at the centre of this government, as the President has said. We have decided that, Minister.
We know that the result for this year rejects us and that all these things we are talking about here are for us to lead you because we are right at the lower rank of the outcomes. We have said to ourselves that we are going to set bold steps in relation to dealing with institutions so that the improvement at the national level must be better.
We have decided that from that 46% result that we achieved this year, we are going to set ourselves a bold plan that between now and 2014 we are going to take steps in the areas that we have identified, with the President, in Grades 3, 6, 8, 9 and 12, and we are going to have external examinations and ensure that we get a 60% increase, including in Grade 12, by 2014.
We have sponsored only 6 552 children in schools. We felt that when we talk about this 60% increase, we want to increase those entries from 13 000 to 112 000 by the year 2014.
Somebody will ask us what it is that we are going to do, and what it is that we have identified that we have to do differently between now and then. Following what the Minister said and indeed reflecting exactly the challenges on the ground, we said to ourselves that we are going to take specific areas that we think are critical, such as the issue of the number of contacts between the learner and the teacher, which we are going to try to increase.
The MEC for education has been up and down every time interacting with teachers' organisations, learners, parents and sometimes with Members of Parliament till now to assist in that situation so that the culture of learning and education at school can improve.
In that way, one of the things that actually came out is that they had identified the collective contract in terms of what it is that must be done. They have committed indeed to be in class on time and learning. We have also committed, on the other side, that we are going to ensure that the learner support materials are present all the time and by December of every year. We have started with this in this financial year.
The other area of work that we have identified is that of infrastructure and the rural community. We have discovered that some of the areas that performed badly actually do not have proper infrastructure. They have unsafe structures and mud schools. We have a premier who committed himself last week to ensuring that this year we must clear those off. At the same time, he has also noted that in farm schools children are spending time going up and down and sometimes the scholar transport doesn't assist them with transportation.
We have decided that we are going to build hostels for those farm schools. Those hostels must be able to assist the children in different ways. In farm schools, the issue is not only about travelling, but it is also about the conditions on farms. There are children that we realised are learning without lights. They are actually using fire to study. You can imagine what is going to happen. So, those are the matters we said we had to deal with.
The last issue is that the premier has also made a commitment that we should have extra classes for all those schools that got less than 20%. While we have continuous assessment, we must have the winter schools and extra classes that are supposed to be able to assist us to deal with that.
If I had time, I would have talked about how one could deal with the issue of scholar transport and early childhood development, ECD, issues as part of the support of this particular programme. But all these are actually done to support what we have already started, Minister.
Lastly, I would like to say that all these things we have talked about are what we do because this is the business of all of us. Actually, we have to participate in it, and that is exactly what activism is all about, namely the participation of all those who are supposed to be involved. It is not any other thing; it is not an ideology to be shouted; it is not a decree that you give. Activism is something that you do in practice repeatedly until the results are better. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]
Mohlomphegi Modulasetulo, mohlomphegi Tona, re be re theeledit?e Maloko a Palamente a bolela ka ga ditaba t?a thuto go tloga ka iri ya bobedi - gore na thuto e bohlokwa bjang. Ke nnete thuto e bohlokwa. Go na le polelo ya Sepedi yeo e rego "set?haba seo se sa rutegago ke seo se timet?ego". Ka fao, set?haba se se tlo timela. (Translation of Sepedi paragraph follows.)
[Mr T A MASHAMAITE: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, we have been listening from two o'clock to Members of Parliament debating education matters - about the importance of education. It is a fact that education is important. Without education, a nation is lost.]
I just want to raise a few points here because I feel that the speakers who spoke before me did not touch on them. The point I want to raise is in relation to the dress code of learners at school. The department must introduce a dress code for learners in the same phase across the country. This will go a long way towards alleviating the economic burden on parents and guardians of having to buy new school uniforms every time a child is transferred to a new school.
Displaying a national symbol in the form of an education emblem of the nation - national heroes and martyrs such as Chris Hani - would build national pride and identity among learners and thus promote common values and inspiration among the diverse learner population.
Education is a means of promoting good citizenship as well as preparing our people for the needs of a modern economy and a democratic society. By building on achievements in education, the ANC government is determined to ensure the progressive realisation of universal schooling, improve the quality of education and eliminate disparities.
There is a need to intensify the mobilisation of adults who cannot read or write to join the Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign. In the same breath, the ANC government will pay attention to improving the quality of Grade R and early childhood development to ensure that young children are adequately prepared for schooling. In this instance ...
... moswana o bolet?e a re tloga-tloga e tloga kgale, modi?i wa kgomo o t?wa nayo ?akeng, goba thupa e kobja e sa le boleta. [... young children need to be prepared at an earlier stage for schooling.]
The ANC continues to call for non-negotiables in education - that teachers should be on time, in class and teach for seven hours a day. Pupils should be involved in affairs that affect them. In this regard, the building of a movement for quality education involving learners, teachers and parents will gather momentum and zest in its strategic aim to ensure universal access to quality public education.
In his state of the nation address, the President said that government must work faster, harder and smarter. Let us heed the call as the people of South Africa and do it. We can do it; it can be done.
This month, as we celebrate 20 years since the release of Mr Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela from prison, we celebrate the revolutionary and selfless struggle, which gave rise to an open and democratic society free from the legacy of institutionalised racism and discrimination.
In conclusion, making education one of the five priorities over the next five years reaffirms the commitment of the ANC to the improvement of the quality of education and access thereto. The 2009 curriculum review addresses the content and impact of education on young people in the main and their progression to higher education and preparation for entry into the labour market. The productive sector has been mobilised to appreciate the importance of further education and training colleges in meeting the skills and employment creation needs of the country.
Ga re a swanela go ba bo popotela ye e sa kwego gomme ya felet?a e wet?e leretheng la mohwelere. Ke a leboga, mohlomphegi Modulasetulo. [Legofsi.] [We do not have to be stubborn because that may lead us into trouble. Thank you. [Applause.]]
Thank you very much, hon Mashamaite. I must say that this is quite historic. If you don't record what happened here today, you will never be able to do it again. You closed a debate in which both Ministers present participated in the debate before you. Thank you very much, hon Mashamaite, for that.