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Friday, 15 March, 2002

Time to break through to a better future

Statement by André Gaum, Minister of Education, Western Cape.

In my Budget Speech today, I am calling on all those with an interest in education to put education first so that our learners in all communities can break through to a better future.

The Western Cape education budget for 2002/03 is R4,533-billion, which is R290-million more than the province allocated last year Ė an increase of 6,8%.

Educationís 32,7% of the total provincial budget is more than any other departmentís share. The province has put education first.

I am keenly aware of the responsibility that this places on my shoulders and those of my colleagues in the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) as we week to honour this trust.

We are actively seeking partners in all sectors in this effort, to assist us in the task of building the future together.

The WCED is rolling out a massive programme this year as it seeks to provide effective and efficient education for all.

The success of the programme will depend on four key success factors:

  • Discipline and diligence.
  • Adequate teacher training.
  • Good management in our schools and support structures.
  • Appropriate school environments

New features of the programme in 2002 include the following:

1.  EMDCs.

Our new Education Management and Development Centres, or EMDCs, have embarked on their first full year of operation in 2002, in seven new education districts across the province.

The primary aim of the EMDCs is to bring development support much closer to schools, focusing on those that need it the most, to help them become vibrant, self-reliant centres of teaching and learning.

2.  Mother-tongue education.

I am announcing the names of the Ministerial Task Team that will consider the introduction of mother-tongue education in the first seven years of primary schooling; and the introduction of a third language in primary schools.

I believe that mother tongue education will play a vital role in developing conceptual skills among children during their formative years of primary schooling.

We will also contribute to nation building by helping children to learn the three official languages of the Western Cape.

The Task Team members are:  Mr Ed Pratt (Chair);  Dr Neville Alexander;  Dr Christa van Louw;  Professor Sizwe Satyo;  Ms Anne Schlebusch; and  Ms Pumla Satyo.

I have also asked my department to appoint a special Advisory Committee on mother-tongue education that will advise me and the Task Team on all aspects of this subject.

The Advisory Committee will include teacher union representatives who are practising teachers; academics from higher education institutions; school governing body associations; and other possible stakeholders with a particular interest in language in education.

3.  Maths and Science initiatives.

Several excellent initiatives are currently underway in the province to develop teaching and learning in mathematics and science.

We need to do much more in this regard. I have therefore asked the department to form a Task Team to look at ways of improving learner performance in mathematics across the board in the province, particularly on the higher grade.

We will commission research this year to study learner performance in Grade Three in numeracy and literacy, and conduct pilot studies in Grades Six and Seven, to obtain further information needed for education planning.

I have also asked my department to consider more academic streams geared towards vocational training in schools, to provide specific skills required by commerce and industry.

4.  Literacy

We will expand our highly successful Reading Schools campaign this year by including high schools for the first time.

I will also appoint a Ministerial Task Team to investigate ways of improving learner performance in literacy.

I plan to involve role models in public life, including government ministers and politicians, in campaigns to spread the message in all communities about the importance of reading.

5.  Teacher and management training

The WCED will launch a new Institute for In-service Teacher Development this year, based at the Western Cape College of Education. The department will based the training programmes on careful research into teachersí needs.

The department will also seek to develop school management skills at the institute, as well as through associations of school managers and governing bodies, and the activities of the EMDCs.

6.  Multigrade classes

The WCED has allocated about R2,5-million to provide special support to multigrade classes (where more than one grade is taught in a class), in rural schools for the first time this year. About 325 rural schools in the Western Cape currently run multigrade classes, catering for more than 25 400 learners.

7.  FET Institutions

Former technical colleges will experience major changes this year as the department streamlines the sector, and strengthens the programmes it offers, in line with national policy.

The provinceís 13 technical colleges are being merged into Further Education and Training (FET) Institutions after four years of planning and consultation.

The programmes offered by FET Institutions are being carefully tailored to meet requirements for technical and vocational training. Our FET team has developed the capacity for studying market requirements and designing appropriate programmes to meet these needs.

We are also developing our Skills Training Centres to teach basic manufacturing and entrepreneurial skills, and will link these to FET Institutions where possible.

8.  eLearning initiatives

We have three basic eLearning initiatives underway in the province. I plan to co-ordinate them under a single umbrella, possibly called "eLearning Cape". The three projects are:

  • The Telecommunications Project, which will link almost every public school in the province to the internet during the course of this year.
  • The Khanya Technology in Education Project is developing and implement innovative ways of using information and communication technologies to deliver curriculum. The project has reached more than 100 schools so far.
  • Our FET Institutions are involved in a major international project to investigate ways of improving further education and training using information technology. The initiative is called the Dassie Project, short for "Distributed Advanced Strategic Systems for Industrial eLearning".

9.  Safety and security

We have added about R1-million to the WCEDís Safe Schools Programme budget this year. The programme is responsible for securing safe school environments that are conducive for effective teaching and learning.

The WCED's Safe Schools Programme installs security systems at participating schools, trains staff and learners on safety procedures, and works with the SAPS and community organisations to promote safe school environments.

About 850 schools have joined the programme so far, co-ordinated in 75 clusters.

10.  HIV/AIDS

We are expanding the scope of the WCEDís HIV/AIDS programme considerably this year. For this reason, the department will add R1-million to the budget provided the national government this year.

The role of the WCED's HIV/AIDS programme is largely preventive. Key features of our HIV/AIDS programme this year include:

  • Introducing a new education programme for primary-school children. The WCED has already trained more than 6000 teachers for the programme in about 75% of the province's primary schools. We will complete the balance of the training required this year.
  • The WCED is providing education materials for every primary-school teacher in all three official languages.
  • The WCED will extend the HIV/AIDS programme to high schools this year, focussing on Grades 8 to 9, with Grades 10 to 11 to follow in 2003.
  • During 2002, the department will train about 5 000 high-school pupils as peer educators in about 120 schools. Their role will be to teach fellow learners how to make responsible choices.
  • The HIV/AIDS programme is based on our Life Orientation curriculum and forms an integral part of our teaching and learning programme in schools

11.  Adult education

Our Adult Basic Education and Training Centres offer opportunities for adults to complete their schooling, while also learning skills that could help them break out of poverty.

The WCED has also established skills training centres in George, Noordhoek and Caledon, which are attached to technical colleges. Weíll seek opportunities to develop this sector further.

The Western Cape Education Budget Speech 2002/3

Issued by:
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
Email: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za
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