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Friday, 14 June, 2002
National Council of Province Budget Speech debate
The following are extracts from the speech given by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister, during the Budget debate in the National Council of Provinces today (Friday, 14 June 2002).
1. Religion and religious education
The revised national curriculum will play a massive role in improving the quality of education in this country, by providing clear objectives on what we must achieve, for each learning area, grade by grade.
The first draft of the revised curriculum raised concerns when it was released late last year, especially around the issues of religion and religious education, and sexuality education.
We are satisfied that the national Department of Education has ensured that statements in respect of sexuality and religion education, which were interpreted to be offensive, have been removed.
Although I shall continue to engage Professor Asmal on the NNP’s view that a child’s awareness of other religions through education in other religions is best developed later in a school child’s life, the National Curriculum Statement does not encourage religious indoctrination.
I also wish to allay parents' fears that learners will not observe and practise their religion at schools.
The South African Schools Act gives School Governing Bodies the right to provide for religious observances and religious practices as long as learner choice in relation to these practices is respected.
This means that schools are able to practice all manner of religious observances in school time as long as this has been approved by the School Governing Body and individual learners who choose not to participate are not in any way discriminated against.
Schools may also offer extra-curriculum religious instruction if this is approved by the School Governing Body. The NNP is grateful for Professor Asmal’s undertaking to us not to amend the South African Schools’ Act in this regard.
We have to accept that religious practises are part and parcel of the daily activities of many schools. As long as every learner’s religion is respected, we should never attempt to superficially remove religion from schools. That will be a social experiment that we can ill afford.
2. Hoëronderwys herstrukturering
Terwyl ek by die onderwerp van opleiding is, wil ek graag byvoeg dat die Wes-Kaap en die NNP die nasionale Kabinet se goedkeuring van die herstrukturering van Hoëronderwys instellings verwelkom.
Ons is bly dat die Universiteite van die Wes-Kaap en Fort Hare hulle aparte identiteite sal behou.
Daar moet in ons hoër onderwysomgewing ruimte wees vir universiteite met spesiale karaktereienskappe. Die behoeftes en samestelling van elke provinsie moet ‘n rol speel, net soos daar aan die versuigtinge van die Noord-Kaap en Limpopo om eie hoëronderwysinstellings te kry, gehoor gegee is.
Ek stem saam dat universiteite vir almal toeganklik moet wees en dat iets soos taal, of enigiets anders, nie as buffer gebruik mag word teen toeganklikheid en voortgesette hervorming nie.
Dit blyk egter dat bepaalde Afrikaanssprekende universiteite in die jongste voorstelle vir hoëronderwys uitgesonder word vir spesiale aandag, deurdat vereis word dat hulle parrallel en dubbelmedium-klasse moet aanbied, ten einde meer nie-Afrikaanssprekende studente te akkommodeer.
Suid-Afrika is nie ‘n eentalige land nie. Ons het verskeie provinsies met verskeie taalwerklikhede wat akkommodeer moet word. Die jongste voorstelle oor universiteite se voertale getuig nie van konsekwentheid nie.
Ek glo dat universiteite soos Stellenbosch en Potchefstroom toegelaat moet word om hul regmatige plek in die hoëronderwyslandskap as hoofsaaklik Afrikaanssprekende universiteite te handhaaf.
Daar behoort nie ‘n vereiste van parallel en dubbelmedium-klasse op voorgraadse vlak te wees nie. Anders moet dieselfde vereiste beslis ook in die Wes-Kaap by universiteite soos UCT en UWK gestel te word.
Klem moet veel eeder gelê word om meer amptelike tale van ons land tot akademiese tale te verhef en om taaloorbruggingsprogramme by die Afrikaanse universiteite te versterk. Professor Asmal behoort te sorg dat befondsing hiervoor verskaf word.
Die sal ‘n absolute onding wees as enige iemand sou probeer om al ons universiteite volledig te verengels, of by verstek te verengels.
Dit sal ‘n belediging vir alle ander tale wees, en ‘n daad van taalimperialisme. Dit sal die dood in die pot wees vir taalverskeidenheid. Ek wil graag versekerings van Minister Asmal in hierdie verband hê. Dit kannie toegelaat word nie.
3. Performance evaluation of teachers
For some time, my party and I have been keen advocates of performance evaluation of teachers, in addition to Whole School Evaluation.
I have raised the urgency of this matter at more than one Council of Education Ministers meeting, and I have written to Professor Asmal in this regard.
I would therefore like to congratulate the minister for including this matter in the Education Laws Amendment Bill now before Parliament, which allows him to make regulations on the criteria for performance evaluation. I trust that these regulations will be forthcoming soon.
4. Powers of Governing Bodies
The proposed Education Laws Amendment Bill sought to give provincial education departments the right to appoint teachers directly to schools, where these teachers were entering the profession for the first time, or were returning after a break in service. This threatened to limit the powers of School Governing Bodies to appoint teachers.
While I totally disagree with the initial provisions of the Bill in this regard, my party and I can go along with the amended version presented to the Council of Education Ministers on Monday (10 June 2002), which allows for thorough consultation with these important bodies of our schools.
Governing bodies will now be involved in identifying relevant posts and in setting requirements for these posts, as well as identifying the actual appointments to be made.
Once again, I would like to thank the Minister for giving proper and sincere consideration to our concerns. This is yet another example of where co-operative, inclusive governance is working.
5. Technology in Education
Since eLearning is clearly the most important development in education in decades, we are determined to take the introduction of technology in education to new levels. We hope that Microsoft’s magnanimous donation will encourage other sponsors to become involved as well.
I would like to pose a direct challenge to our great multinational companies to jump into action and to plough similar, major investments in our future.
6. Multilingualism video
As part of our drive to promote multilingualism, the WCED will launch a video shortly on multilingualism in the classroom, which will contribute significantly to raising awareness on this issue. We will release further details on this video shortly.
Enquiries: André Gaum, 082 550 3938
The Communications Directorate
Western Cape Education Department
Private Bag X9114
Cape Town 8000
Tel: (021) 467-2531
Fax: (021) 467-2363
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