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Media Release

15 November, 2007

WCED enters new chapter in the delivery of quality education

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has entered a new chapter in the pursuit of delivering quality education for all this year as it successfully implemented the first phase of the department's redesign project.

Cameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape, told the Education Standing Committee of the Provincial Legislature today (Thursday, 15 November 2007) that the first phase involved appointing senior management who would drive systemic change to improve the quality of education in the province.

The second phase would involve improving support for schools considerably where it is needed the most, via strong circuit teams in the districts. The WCED will invest about 75% of the resources allocated to the redesign to the districts.

Mr Dugmore presented the Annual Report of the WCED for 2006/07 to the Standing Committee today, and will do so again to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) tomorrow (Friday, 16 November 2007).

Said MEC Dugmore: "Our national curriculum is designed to ensure that our learners succeed in the global knowledge economy of the 21st century. We have to offer education that matches best international practice to take our place on the world stage.

"We face huge challenges as we try to introduce best practice, especially in our poorest communities. The redesign will help us to meet this challenge."

"Key challenges include ensuring that the Western Cape has sufficient numbers of well-trained teachers. The WCED has steadily increased the number of teachers over the past five years.

"The department has increased the number of teaching posts by 747 for 2008, and will pay special attention to improving teacher: learner ratios in the Foundation Phase (Grades R to 3), in line with the province's Human Capital Development Strategy.

"Highlights of the 2006/07 financial year included the launch of the WCED's Literacy and Numeracy Strategy in July 2006.

"The number one priority of the department is to improve the literacy and numeracy performance of primary school learners, especially in the Foundation Phase. The strategy seeks to strengthen and coordinate existing strategies more effectively, and to introduce new approaches.

"The strategy includes regular diagnostic testing to identify precisely the issues that we need to address. The WCED assessed 82 879 Grade 3 learners at 1 086 schools in October and November 2006.

"The study showed that the pass rate for Grade 3 learners in literacy has improved from 39.5% in 2004 to 47.7% in 2006, an increase of 8.2%. This is an improvement of 12.2% since 2002, when we started the testing programme. While this is not enough, the improvement since 2002 is significant, and shows that special interventions do work.

"We are less happy with the results of the numeracy study, which reflects a decline of 6.5% from 37.3% to 31%. We are now working with schools to ensure an appropriate balance between time spent on both literacy and numeracy.

"We draw tremendous encouragement from schools in poor communities that achieve good results. These schools demonstrate that the right approach and a "can do" attitude can make a difference.

"I would like to mention two schools in particular who serve the poorest of the poor, and who showed a substantial improvement in their results in the 2006 study.

"The first is Wagenhuiskranz Primary School, who serve the fishing community in Bredasdorp. They improved their numeracy result from 30.8% in 2004 to 77.3% in 2006, and their literacy result 46.2% to 81.8%. Numeracy therefore saw an improvement of 46.5%, while literacy improved by 81.8%.

"The second is Kliphoek Primary School, a farm school between Piketberg and Redelinghuis on the West Coast, who improved their numeracy result from 25% in 2004 to 75% in 2006, an improvement of 50%. They improved their literacy result from 50% to 100% during this period - a remarkable achievement!

"The common factor is completely dedicated staff who apply themselves to dealing with this issue. Both schools are not afraid to try new approaches and who welcome advice from our literacy and numeracy specialists. They have studied the results of the tests and have applied appropriate solutions.

"The schools are well managed and provide attractive teaching and learning environments. The learners are neat and generally reflect the positive attitudes of the school.

"In the case of Wagenhuizkrans, the local community banded together to appoint a governing body teacher for six months of the year, who has helped to improve literacy and numeracy performance of Foundation Phase learners.

"We are learning from these examples of best practice and will continue to share them across the province.

"Meanwhile, our strategy also encourages parents to build literacy and numeracy skills at home. Our schools, districts and adult education centres are engaged in a number of programmes to encourage family learning.

"We have launched the first phase of a family learning campaign across the province, to provide tips to parents on what they can do at home to build the literacy and numeracy skills of their children.

"We are currently broadcasting tips in a six-week radio campaign and will distribute leaflets to parents via our schools in the 21 poorest communities of the Western Cape. The leaflets include tips and information on what is required of learners in Grade 3.

"The second phase of the campaign will encourage lifelong learning in adult education centres and will support the mass literacy campaign that will be being driven by the national Department of Education (DoE) in 2008.

"The WCED and the DoE expanded the Dinaledi programme to 50 high schools in the Western Cape in 2006, to improve access to quality maths and science education in poor communities. Dinaledi schools are receiving special facilities and extra teachers.

"The Dinaledi programme is not a quick-fix. Success depends on building a foundation in early grades. 2006 was a start-up year, and we expect the results to start showing as the Grade 10s of 2006 reach matric in 2008.

"Other highlights of the 2006/07 financial year mentioned in the Annual Report include the following:

  • The introduction of the new national curriculum for Grades 10 to 12, starting with in Grade 10 in 2006.

  • The appointment of 510 teaching assistants in 163 primary schools and 100 specialists who are responsible for supporting teachers as they strive to improve the literacy and numeracy performance of learners in Grades 1 to 3.

  • Work continued on preparing teachers for introducing the national curriculum in Grades 10 to 12. The WCED organised workshops for 8 372 teachers at 136 venues during the June/July 2006 school holiday. About 1 500 teachers attended further sessions during the September school holiday.

  • The WCED organised workshops for more than 5 700 teachers at 93 venues during the July 2006 holiday to prepare for introducing the revised national curriculum in Grades 8 and 9 in 2007.

  • The WCED began implementing a three-year programme to recapitalise FET colleges at a cost of R1.9-billion, starting an investment of R70-million in 2006/07.

  • The WCED introduced 11 new Vocational Certificate Programmes at FET colleges in 2006, to meet special needs of the Western Cape economy.

  • The provincial government provided R25-million for student loans in 2006/07 to improve access to FET colleges for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. The loans financed 8 000 students in 2006/07.

  • The WCED paid special attention to ensuring safe school environments at 109 high-risk schools. Measures included improving security infrastructure, safety procedures, and deploying Bambanani volunteer guards in collaboration with the Department of Community Safety.

  • The WCED deployed Learner Support Officers to assist in reducing truancy and to promote positive attitudes towards teaching and learning.

  • The Western Cape achieved a Senior Certificate pass rate in 2006 of 83.7%, the highest in the country. A total of 33 316 candidates passed, reflecting an increase of 743 compared to 2005.

  • The quality of the Senior Certificate passes showed steady improvement. The number of candidates who passed with endorsement (10 589) improved by 195 compared to 2005, while the number of candidates who passed with distinction continued to grow, reaching 2 280 (5.73%), the best result in this category for the five-year period, 2002 to 2006.

  • In March 2007, school principals, school governing bodies and learner representative councils signed commitments to set targets for improving pass rates and the quality of passes at their schools, following close analysis and collaboration between officials and schools. We are also holding officials accountable for performance across the system through the performance assessment mechanism.

  • The WCED and partners in provincial government launched a learnership programme for 900 pre-school teachers to improve access to quality pre-primary schooling. The WCED subsidised an additional 6 000 learners in Grade R classes during 2006/07.

  • The WCED launched its Language Transformation Plan in February 2007, following extensive consultation, to expand mother-tongue education in primary schools.

  • A total of 652 schools became no-fee schools in the Western Cape in 2007. The status was compulsory for 419 of these schools in poverty quintiles one and two. A further 245 schools in quintile three accepted an invitation from the WCED to accept this status voluntarily.

  • More than 200 000 learners and 500 000 members of communities took part in the inaugural week of the WCED's Community Schools Initiative in August 2006, designed to build social capital in the province.

  • The WCED launched a new School Business Management training programme in April 2007 in conjunction with partners in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The partners developed the programme during the course of 2006. We are convinced that schools that are well managed and led will do well. For this reason, we are focusing on leadership development and management.

  • The WCED and the Shandong Provincial Education Department in China signed an agreement in January 2007 to cooperate on a range of education projects. The agreement forms part of a broader agreement between the two provinces on trade and investment, among other areas of collaboration.

  • The WCED won six of the eight Premier's Awards for Service Excellence in 2006, including the top Gold Award for a project called "160 Days of Intervention for ABET Centres", based at the Breede River/Overberg EMDC.

  • The WCED Khanya project won three prestigious awards during 2006/07, including a Silver Premier's Award for Service Excellence; the Technology Top 100 Leader in Empowerment Award; and a Gold Award from the Impumelelo Innovations Award Trust. Khanya provides technology to support teaching and learning.

"We are committed to improving access to quality education in every community, and to building a learning home for all. We can only do so by paying continuous attention to detail, and we are continuing to do so in 2007/08."

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za or Paddy Attwell: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

The Western Cape - A Home for All
INtshona Koloni - iKhaya loMntu wonke
Die Wes-Kaap - 'n Tuiste vir Almal

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