Good morning, and thank you for taking the time to join us here today as we unpack the main elements of the Basic Education budget vote 14 and highlight the focus areas for the 20152016 financial year under the theme: “Repositioning the Basic Education Sector for Accelerated Quality and Efficiency”.
This Budget Vote coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter. The Freedom Charter unambiguously declared that, “The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall be opened!” With this in mind the focus of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for the 20152016 financial year will be to consolidate achievements made so far while expediting strategies for improvement.
We will be making some exciting announcements in this year’s budget vote speech.
Library services and reading
This new term will focus on improving library services through a partnership led by the Department of Arts and Culture. With an be an intensified focus on reading and heightened library resourcing in schools. Plans are underway for the establishment of fully functional school libraries. These will be utilized by public schools as well as by the public in general to promote a culture of reading in our communities.
Subsequent to the release of the National Education and Evaluation Unit (NEEDU) report on the State of Literacy Teaching in the Foundation Phase, the Ministerial Reading Audit Report and the 2011 Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS), I was convinced that the Sector needed to rejuvenate its reading initiatives hence, I declared reading promotion and library and information services a national priority. We recently held a stakeholders’ Roundtable on Reading which resulted in us introducing a number of reading initiatives, including the resuscitation of the “Drop All and Read” programme.
In June 2015, 1000 schools offering Grades 1-3 will be implementing the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA). The EGRA is an international benchmarked assessment which assesses reading proficiency through letter sound recognition, word recognition and passage reading. In addition the National Reading Plan prescribes the implementation of reading norms for Grades R-12.
I will be announcing to parliament the progress made in improving the rollout of the Annual National Assessments (ANA). ANA has proved to be a valuable diagnostic tool. Therefore it will continue into the foreseeable future. The focus until 2019 is on using ANAs to drive classroom performance and learner attainment at all levels, not just in Grades 3, 6 and 9. A major shift in this budget period shall be the inclusion of grades 7 and 8 in ANA. The total number of learners who will participate in ANA increases from the current 7 million to approximately 9 million. Assessing the entire Senior Phase will ensure that we have a complete sense of the extent and depth of the challenges which we would otherwise not have been able to estimate as accurately in the absence of ANA.
Learner teacher support material (LTSM)
The DBE will be doing things a bit differently when it comes to the procurement of LTSM going forward. It is important to look at the current financial situation in the country and ensure that whatever the Department implements, is sustainable and in the best interest of all learners. It is with this in mind that I will be announcing a new LTSM procurement method that will be implemented by 2016. The Central Procurement office in the National Treasury is already working closely with the DBE regarding the procurement of LTSM for all schools through a Transversal Tender.
Last year we announced that we would be working hard as the DBE to improve on efficiency throughout the sector, one area where we have made massive progress is around the retrieval of textbooks by schools. We developed policy which guided provinces regarding textbook retention and retrieval to ensure that the sector does not perpetually procure textbooks. Reports from provinces show that the retrieval and retention of textbooks is a priority in all schools with retrieval above 90% in all provinces.
We are also in the process of institutionalising an electronic system for the ordering and delivery of LTSM for the sector to provide credible reports to critical stakeholders and to the public at large. In order to reduce costs and to standardize textbooks, the Department has itself over the years developed its own 94 titles of high quality textbooks for certain subjects. We have achieved this feat in collaboration with Siyavula and Sasol Inzalo. These materials are electronically made available to all provinces.
In addition, to support learners with visual impairment in the absence of braille textbooks, the DBE also adapted workbooks to Braille. These have been printed and delivered to the 22 special schools. The Braille workbooks are for Grades 1 – 6 Mathematics and Mathematics toolkits, Home language in all 11 official languages, and Grades 1 – 3 Home language toolkits. The Department is currently adapting Grades 7 – 9 Mathematics workbooks to Braille.
The textbook orders for 2015 were in the main only top-ups. Provinces placed textbook orders worth more than R3 billion for the 2015 school year. For the 2015 academic year, a total of 56 million workbooks were printed and delivered to 23 760 schools. I am pleased to announce that at present, reports from provinces indicate that we have achieved near universal coverage of 99% nationally.
In light of recent events, including the xenophobic attacks and the defacing of historical statues, the teaching of our own history has once again come under the spot light. It has become crucial that, in-order to move forward as a united and productive nation, we need to know where we come from as a country. Media reports indicated that many of those who participated in the looting, violence and vandalism were youths – we need to equip our youth with an accurate account of our history in order for them to make educated decisions regarding their own future.
As per the NSC Ministerial Task Team recommendations, further research will be conducted on the best approach of making History a compulsory subject for all learners in grade 10 to 12. In pursuit of this, a Ministerial Task Team will be established to investigate the content and modality of how best to implement this, and a Round-Table discussion with stakeholders will also be held.
The Department has taken a deliberate step, through the curriculum, of ensuring that Physical Education constitutes an integral component of the whole experience of learners. This will be done through creating and distributing a School Self-Assessment Tool Kit amongst many initiatives. In partnership with the PEISA we are encouraging communities and schools to celebrate the Physical Education Month which started from 06 April and ends on 10 May 2015.
On the 8th of May 2015 at 08:00am, in celebrating Physical Education Day, PEISA with the support of the Department and its stakeholders and partners will attempt to set a new world record for “the most people star jumping simultaneously at multiple venues for two consecutive minutes”. We expect that you will support us in this endeavour.
Jobs for cash
While on the topic of Ministerial Task teams, it is important for me to update you on progress made by the Ministerial Task Team I announced the establishment of at last year’s budget vote speech.
The Task Team investigating the selling of posts, has conducted investigations in six provinces to date. The three remaining provinces are scheduled to take place during the course of this month. The Task Team has interviewed all the national teacher unions as well as the SGB Associations and individuals who are familiar with the education landscape. In depth interviews with senior officials and MECs have been done in North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
The forensic investigation is being conducted by Deloitte and the Department of Justice. The forensic report and recommendations will be part of the final report. We hope to have the final report soon.
The Department continuously reviews and enhances its systems and processes and strives to produce examinations that are internationally comparable that will allow our learners to compete on the global market. There were irregularities identified in the 2014 NSC examinations and we have put a plan in place that will address these. I am confident that this practice will be completely eradicated.
Update of group copying
The investigations regarding the 22 schools in the province of KwaZulu-Natal and the 14 schools in the Eastern Cape province are at an aanced stage. Formal charges against the implicated candidates have been formulated and the learner hearings in the Eastern Cape have commenced and should be concluded by the end of May 2015.
The hearings in the KwaZulu-Natal province will commence on 18 May 2015 and is also scheduled to conclude at the end of May. Thereafter, the disciplinary hearings against the implicated educators will commence. The Department is confident that this matter will be put to bed in the next two months.
Measures to eradicate these practices from all future examination are already underway, and include:
Fostering the culture of examination integrity across all grades and in all examinations and tests in the schooling system
The categorisation of examination centres into high risk, medium risk and low risk centres and
The application of an invigilation model that will be commensurate with the risk profile of the centre. This will ensure that high risk centres are invigilated by the district or provincial offices.
Independent centres will only be allowed to conduct the NSC examination if they are accredited by Umalusi.
Invigilator training will be strengthened with the development of a national invigilator manual and the training will be centralised and then cascaded to provinces.
Lastly, we will deploy resident monitors to specific provinces and districts to ensure stringent compliance to examination policy across all stages of the examination process.
Out of school youth
We also cater for out of school youth who lack a qualification that is equivalent to the Matric Certificate. The old Senior Certificate has been re-organised to accommodate CAPS so that adults attaining this qualification are equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge. This examination based on the new curriculum will be offered for the first time in JuneJuly 2015 to an estimated 150 000 adult learners.
New exit level certificate
One of the big announcements I will be making this year is the introduction of a new school exit level certificate. In order to address skills shortages and unemployment in the country the DBE is introducing a second skills and vocational pathway by developing an exit level qualification at NQF level 1 that will specifically benefit learners who struggle to attain the academic requirements of the National Senior Certificate (NSC). This programme comprises 26 skills and vocational subjects and promises to bring South Africa in line with many other growing economies.
NSC 2nd Chance Programme (Finishing School)
In our quest to ensure that those who reach Matric exit with the all-important National Senior Certificate, we have resolved as a sector that those who fail must be given a second chance. The idea is to offer all learners who qualify for supplementary exams with face to face teaching and learning support through multimedia educational resources and other print support materials provided by us. We hope to launch the first phase of the programme in January 2016.
Supplementary NSC results
It is always good to end off on a high note the supplementary examinations will give us that opportunity. A total of 90 389 candidates enrolled for the 2015 NSC supplementary examination. With the inclusion of the supplementary examination results, there has been a general improvement in the pass percentage and the numbers that obtained the National Senior Certificate across all provinces. I am glad to announce that the national pass rate, with the inclusion of the 2015 Supplementary examination now stands at 77.1%, an increase of 1.3% from the 75.8% achieved in the 2014 NSC examination.
As you are aware the Department of Basic Education is an enormous department and is the number one priority of this government, through this briefing I have chosen a few key new areas but there will be far more detail in my Budget Vote Speech when I address the National Assembly later today.
Issued by: Department of Basic Education
Source : South African Government