Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the Council of Education Ministers has agreed to introduce Kiswahili as a subject in South African schools.
Motshekga said this when she briefed the media ahead of leading a debate on the department’s budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
“I am delighted to announce that the Council of Education Ministers overwhelmingly agreed to incrementally introduce Kiswahili in our schools. There is a high level of enthusiasm about this.”
Motshekga said a few schools, mainly around Gauteng, have been identified to pilot the language offering this year – with an aim of fully implementing it next year.
“Kenya and Tanzania have committed to assist with the training of educators and the development of appropriate learning and teaching support materials in Kiswahili.”
Department to build 40 schools this year
Motshekga said, meanwhile, that by the end of the current financial year, the department will complete the construction of 40 schools and deliver sanitation to 775 schools and water to 225 schools.
Six hundred and six schools will be provided with sanitation through the SAFE initiative, which is implemented in partnership with the private sector, sister departments such as the Departments of Water and Sanitation as well as Environmental Affairs, and entities such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
“School infrastructure provision remains a contentious matter that requires agility, innovation for effective delivery to accelerate the achievements that have already been registered.
“In order to beef up capacity at national level, we have already appointed a Chief Quantity Surveyor and an Engineer. We are in the process of identifying two more Chief Quantity Surveyors and a Chief Projector Manager for school infrastructure,” she said.
Department to compulsory two year ECD before grade 1
Improving the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially “reading with meaning”, is a number one priority for the department.
“In order to achieve that goal, we need to urgently proceed with the implementation of the two-years of ECD before Grade 1 and the systematic relocation of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education.
“The department is working closely with the Department of Social Development and other partners to oversee the smooth function shift of the migration of the responsibility for ECD centres from Social Development to Basic Education, and proceed with the process towards two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter Grade 1.
“DBE will develop a comprehensive plan for the different work streams involved in the ECD function shift (Grade R, Grade RR, and Birth to 4), in collaboration with the relevant partners in government. A costed plan for the ECD function shift will be finalised by March 2020,” Motshekga said.