Good afternoon and thank you very much for this opportunity to say a few words at your first national congress. It’s a singular honour and one that I cherish.
As members of SAMA and COSATU, you are part and parcel of the congress movement. You are important members of the Tripartite Alliance, whose key responsibility is to nurture and protect the democracy and freedom that we have won through great sacrifices against the system of apartheid.
You have the obligation to see to it that the African National Congress grows from strength to strength through your active involvement in its work and constructive criticism of its leaders, whenever and wherever necessary.
It is also your responsibility to ensure that you contribute to the on-going efforts to transform South Africa in line with the ideals of the Freedom Charter. You should strive to understand the work of the ANC and the ANC-led government and to convey such knowledge to the masses of our people. You also have an obligation to ensure that the ANC gets a decisive victory at the 2014 National and Provincial Elections.
It is for these reasons that I find it opportune to give you an account of the work of the ANC Subcommittee on Education and Health. This will assist you, as members of SAMA and COSATU, to have a common view on progress made in the last five to nineteen years, challenges that remain and plans that are in place to ensure that we all contribute to a better life for all South Africans.
This account will also provide you with information on progress made in 2013 on identifying current and future opportunities plus progress made thus far in implementing plans for job creation, economic growth, youth development, plus infrastructure delivery and maintenance in the context of the National Development Plan 2030.
The ANC NEC Subcommittee on Education and Health is a Subcommittee of the Policy Committee of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC). The Subcommittee, which is made up of Basic Education, Higher Education & Training, Health and Science & Technology, provides leadership to its constituent sectors in the translation, formulation and implementation of ANC policy. The Subcommittee is also responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the work of the sectors. It is accountable to the NEC Policy Committee and the ANC NEC.
In 2009, the ANC presented its manifesto to our people. It received an overwhelming mandate that had to be implemented over the five years, namely 2009 to 2014.
Since the dawn of democracy, year-on-year the education system of South Africa has made great progress away from its old system which was characterised by gross inequity, inefficient, variable equality in relation to facilities and quality; and low levels of access to education, specifically for Blacks and especially for African children.
The 2009-2014 Ten Point Program of Education is a summary of priorities that we had to focus on. In our evaluation of progress, it is encouraging that the education sector has been able to complete its mandate, except the first priority which is “Teachers in class, on time, teaching using textbooks and programmed lesson plans”.
The Basic Education sector has performed well in during this term of governance. Participation rates in compulsory education have greatly improved. By 2012 the department of Basic Education was serving 12 428 069 million learners in 25 826 schools countrywide, and had 425 167 teachers which is a considerable increase from 1994 and 2009.
Progress has been made in registering improved access to education; greater equity has been attained through increased allocation of funds to schools serving poor learners and significant growth in public spending on Early Childhood Development (ECD); attendance at schools has increased; an increase in pre-Grade R, 5-year olds and 7-10 year olds attending educational institutions; the School Nutrition Program, especially its reach in secondary schools; the establishment of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU); the refinement and expansion of the Mathematics, Science and Technology strategy; the implementation of the revised curriculum (CAPS) including teacher training and resourcing; regular publication of Annual National Assessments (ANAs); improvement in results of international benchmarking tests, namely the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 and the International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS); provision of workbooks to all learners in Grades 1 to 9, plus supplementation of this with workbooks for life skills and language in Grade 1 to 3; stabilising the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination and progressive improvement of pass rates to 73,9% in 2012; improvements in the qualification levels of teachers from 53% in 1990 to over 96% in 2012; improvements in LTSM coverage from the 2007 Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SAQMEC) estimation of 45% coverage to 80% in 2012; improvement in the fostering of learner well-being through the National School Nutrition Program (NSNP); improvement of numeracy and literacy mainly through Kha RI Gude; and the approval of Norms and Standards for Basic School Functionality.
The Basic Education sector experienced a number of challenges, the most notable being the provision of Learner Teacher Support Materials, including books, in Limpopo. Other challenges that remain are the attainment of good quality education, conditions of services for workers in the education sector; compensation of employees; inadequate supply of teachers; inappropriate utilisation of educators; poor capacity of education institutions and departments to spend and to deliver; poor compliance with education policies and Human Resources laws; and infrastructure backlogs plus difficulties experienced in delivering our commitment to eradicate mud schools and inappropriate structures.
Systems have been put in place to deal with these challenges during the current financial year. The sector is aligning all its plans, including the Action Plan 2014 towards schooling 2025, to the NDP 2030. The sector has launched the Education Collaboration Framework (ECF) and the Education Collaboration Trust (ECT) on 16 July 2013 to align and implement the NDP 2030 imperatives in the education sector. Further plans will be devised, in line with the National Development Plan 2030, to ensure that Basic Education is taken to a higher trajectory in the next term of governance.
Higher Education and Training
The ANC resolved at its 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane in 2007 that education and health are key priorities of the country. As a result, the ANC-led government established the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), whose mandate is to establish a single, integrated, coherent and well-articulated post-school system.
The Higher Education and Training sector has performed exceptionally well during its first term of existence. The following are some of its achievements in the expansion of post-schooling provision to improve access:
Further Education and Training student headcount enrolments increased by 90% from 345 566 in 2010 to 657 690 in 2012.
Student headcount enrolments at universities increased by 12% from 837 779 in in 2010 to 938 200 in 2011.
NSFAS student bursary funding at FET Colleges has increased from R318 million in 2010 benefitting 61 703 students to R1.988 billion in 2013 targeting 222 817 students.
NSFAS student bursary funding at Universities has increased from R2.2 billion in 2010 benefitting 148 387 students to R3.693 billion in 2013 targeting 210 000 students
The expansion and strengthening of teacher education for all education sub-sectors, including pre-schooling, schooling and post-schooling has resulted in an increase from just under 6 000 new teacher graduates in 2008 to 10 361 in 2011.
Further successes were made in strengthening institutions to improve quality; setting out a vision and pathways for achieving a coherent post-school system with articulation, collaboration and coordination between the different components; the establishment of universities in Mpumalanga and in the Northern Cape; unbundling of MEDUNSA from the University of Limpopo; the building of a medical school in Limpopo; promoting research and development; the development of a new generation of academics; increasing enrolment of students in Further Education and Training Colleges; and concrete work towards free education.
The Higher Education and Training sector leads the skills revolution through advocating that all workplaces, in the private and public sector must be opened to realise the ideal of making “Every work place, a training space!”.
During this term of governance, the health sector has achieved a lot of successes, the most notable being that it has succeeded to unite all stakeholders behind plans of the ANC to work together towards a better health for all. The animosity that characterised this sector is history.
The health sector has done extremely well in its fight against HIV and AIDS. This is attributable to South Africa’s bold leadership in turning the tide against the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Several gains have been made towards improving the health status of all South Africans, the most profound being an increase in life expectancy from 56,5 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011.
Some of the contributory factors include significant progress in decreasing Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) from 56 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009, to 42 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011 and Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) from 40 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2009, to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.
The challenge that faces us, despite successes that have been made by the sector in its fight against tuberculosis (TB), is that South Africa is one of the top five (5) countries with unacceptably high incidence and prevalence of TB. The challenge that I put to you, as professionals in the health sector, is that you should contribute positively to eradicate TB from our shores. We must all work together to decrease both the incidence and prevalence of TB in the coming five years of governance.
Our Malaria program is one of those that we regard as Programs of Excellence. South Africa is a leading force in the world and assists other countries in our region to fight against Malaria.
Good progress is being made against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs); substance abuse and mental health. The work that is being done to improve the quality of care, including efforts towards the establishment of the Office of Health Standards and Compliance and the implementation of Hospital Improvement Plans and the NHI Hospital Management Improvement Strategy, is satisfactory.
The sector is progressing well in its implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI). Good progress has been made in the development of policy, drafting of relevant legislation and implementation of NHI pilots. We are certain that the White Paper on the NHI will be published soon and that the NHI Fund will be set up according to plan. You are therefore called upon to be active participants in the realisation of this goal of implementing the NHI for the sake of all our people.
In order to deal decisively with skills mismatch in the health sector, the Minister of Health launched the Human Resources for Health Strategy (HRH) In October 2011. One of the priorities is to increase the intake of undergraduate students and post-graduates. The medical students’ intake by academic institutions is rapidly being scaled up, to ensure that the National Health System has adequate numbers of doctors in the near future.
The Human Resources for Health Strategy must be viewed as a living document that should be constantly improved by those, such as SAMA members, who work in the health sector to enable the country to produce all categories of health professionals that are necessary for the good functioning of our health system.
Good progress is being made in strengthening leadership and management in the health sector; improving maternal, child and reproductive health; and improving health infrastructure development and maintenance.
Some of the challenges that remain are similar to those faced by the education sector, which include the attainment of good quality health care and services; the improvement of conditions of services for workers in the health sector; compensation of employees; and inadequate supply of health professionals plus support staff. We are aware that SAMA is engaging the Minister and Department of Health on some of these matters.
Science and Technology
Science, technology and innovation (STI) are essential components of the government’s strategy for creating the South Africa of the future. The Science, Technology and Innovation sector has done exceptionally well in the execution of its mandate.
The sector has made good progress in its implementation of programs related to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The most significant development in the SKA South Africa programme has been winning the bid to host the SKA by being awarded 70% of the radio telescope. The SKA now forms part of the Strategic infrastructure Project s as SIP 16 in the PICC. Construction of the MeerKAT foundations will commence shortly.
Technical and scientific assistance to the African VLBI Network (AVN): The AVN received R120m from the ARF (DIRCO) to develop radio telescopes and associated human capital in our African partner countries.
Good progress is being made towards the establishment of a state-owned pharmaceutical company. The main aim at this point is to establish, through Ketlaphela, a fully local pharmaceutical manufacturing entity focusing mainly on the manufacture of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s) for Anti-Retroviral Medicines (ARVs) in South Africa.
This will also ensure that the country will develop local manufacturing capacities including necessary skills for the production of most needed drugs and to support the critical requirement of having national in-house production and security of supply.
The sector has made progress in ensuring that there is adequate investment in Research and Development. South Africa needs an increase in gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) to address the challenges facing the SA national system of innovation (NSI), such as science and technology (S&T) advances requiring high-level human capital and research infrastructure; maintaining and strengthening South African public science research institutions that focus on priority areas; and to consolidate and exploit the gains made in recent years in, e.g., nuclear research, biotechnology, advanced materials, defence technologies, aerospace and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The sector has, working together with other departments and bodies, made good progress towards the development of academics and researchers through its support of students who are studying towards their Masters and PhD qualifications.
We are confident that we have been able to deliver on our mandate. We are also aware of challenges that face us as we move towards twenty years of democracy.
As we approach the end of this term of governance and prepare for the 2014 National and Provincial elections, we must use the achievements of the last 18 years as the foundation for indicating the objectives of the ANC in the future. We must highlight achievements that have resulted from our experience of implementing education and health as priorities since 2009.
We must act on recommendations from the most recent research that is relevant for the improvement of quality of education and health services; and develop clear targets for the next term of governance in line with the NDP 2030.
SAMA must ensure that science, technology and innovation are mainstreamed into all programs of organisations and institutions in the private and public sector. SAMA members must be part of ANC structures working with communities to build solid acceptance of education and health as community, local and national responsibilities that must be shared by all people where they live.