Pretoria – The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has strongly reaffirmed its support for and confidence in the leadership of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
During its ordinary meeting held in Pretoria on Thursday, the CEM noted with “deep disappointment the unwarranted media attacks” on the basic education sector, in particular, on the character of Motshekga.
The council affirmed the great achievements made in basic education in the last three years since the current administration came into office in 2009.
“It is under the leadership of the current minister that in the last three years the sector has made inroads towards improving the quality of basic education as required by the Delivery Agreement for Basic Education that had been signed in 2010.
“The majority of outcomes in the Delivery Agreement have been achieved two years before their targeted date 2014. Six months ago, the sector was hailed as a beacon of hope based on the fact that for two consecutive years, matric results have been improving,” the council noted.
The CEM commended developments in the education sector under Motshekga’s leadership, which include the attainment of a 70% matric pass rate (a target initially set for 2014), and the department receiving unqualified audit reports.
Motshekga had also introduced the use of workbooks printed in colour in her quest to ensure the successful implementation of the 3Ts – text, teachers and time.
“This year, the department has extended the workbooks to cover Grades 1 to 9 and is providing 54 million books at no cost to parents.
“Preliminary findings of the School Monitoring Survey, conducted in 2011 by an independent service provider, indicate that 78% of Grade 6 learners had access to a language textbook and 83% of Grade 6 learners had access to a maths textbook.
“All learners from Grade 10 to 12 have also been supplied (also at no cost to the learner or the province) with a set of maths and science books developed in partnership with the Shuttleworth Foundation… In this regard, a textbook that used to cost R253 could be printed and delivered at a cost of R33,” CEM said.
Furthermore, the development and introduction of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements had been applauded by teachers and experts alike, and school participation was close to 100% for the basic compulsory band.
The number of learners in no-fee schools exceeds the 60% target, with total expenditure for school allocation on no-fee schools at the national level projected to be in excess of R7.7 billion. The National School Nutrition Programme Conditional Grant has increased to R4.907 billion and the sector provides a warm meal to eight million children per day.
“Under Motshekga, with the upscaling of Annual National Assessments and their use as a diagnostic tool, the system has refocused with more emphasis on primary schooling. This is a fundamental development and welcome step away from the past focus on the last three grades – Grades 10, 11 and 12.
“It is through the leadership of the minister that the department has mobilised a collaborative teacher development initiative with trade unions in an effort to enhance quality of teaching and learning, and thus improve learner performance… A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed with all teacher unions in this regard, another first in the country,” said CEM.
Commenting on the delay in the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo, the council said the Section 100 (1)(b) intervention in that province was an acknowledgement that there were already problems. It also said the Presidential Task Team appointed to probe the matter should be given the space to do its job.
“Most reports have led the public to believe that the competency of procuring textbooks is the responsibility of the National Department while such rests with the provinces.
“The impression created by the media that all children in Limpopo did not receive books and tuition is misleading. Only learners in Grades 1 – 3 and 10 were affected, and at her meeting with school principals in Limpopo, principals have confirmed that teaching had been taking place since January,” the council said.
Principals in Limpopo have also agreed to make schools provide extra tuition on Saturdays and during the spring vacation to help the learners that were affected by the delay in the delivery of textbooks.
Source: SA News – Press Release – 3 August 2012