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Media Release

30 March, 2007

Targets setting for quality education

Statement by Cameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape

Today marks a fundamental intervention to advance human capital development in the Western Cape as school principals, governing bodies (SGBs) and representative councils of learners (RCLs) will have signed target-setting documents against standard templates for the first time ever.

After a process of analysis and consultation, schools have set themselves targets for grade 12 matriculation endorsement; matriculation passes; and targets in regard to numbers of learners successfully completing Mathematics and Science on both higher and standard grade. The same targets are also being signed off for grade 10 and 11 in 2007.

Later in the year we will ask schools to set targets to reduce the numbers of so-called "dropouts", for grades 9,10, 11, and 12 for 2007 and beyond. Too many learners are leaving the system. If these learners drop out because schools over-emphasize the target of an exemplary pass rate at the grade 12 level, then this is intolerable. Targets must not contradict one another.

Although we can never expect a 100% retention rate from grade 1 to 12 and more learners who pass grade 9 should register at our FET colleges, too many of our learners with the potential to reach grade 12 are not making it. Literacy and numeracy targets will be set for all primary schools later this year.

The plan is not one for teachers alone but includes both parents and learners as well.

Each set of targets will have to be accompanied by an action plan. These plans will indicate what steps will be taken to achieve the targets. These might include winter schools, extra tuition after normal school hours or whatever remedial action is indicated.

The plans need to show how progress will be monitored and, in the end, objectively measured.

I am aware of the challenges facing teachers but these should not be exaggerated and generalised. The learner teacher ratio is 38:1 in primary and 35:1 in high schools. The new post-provisioning model will result in a better deal at historically disadvantaged schools.

I do not have time for those teachers who arrive late or drunk and are simply lazy about preparing their lessons, we will deal with them firmly. But I do however want to salute the vast majority of teachers who prepare their lessons and inspire our children every day.

We simply have to produce more learners who can access higher education including further education and training institutions, equipped with mathematics, science and language skills.

So today we make a very practical start. I believe firmly that if schools make bold and public declarations of intent around academic performance, and have the support of their community, then our learners in need will be made strong.

We need them to get the best possible education. We need to have children with powerful value-systems so that we can experience a real turnaround in society.

Careful target-setting requires a detailed contextual analysis of the results of the school over the past few years. As they look at their track record, schools have to try to understand their own variable performances and identify reasons for this accurately.

We are also in the process of amending the performance agreements of all WCED managers to ensure that they provide evidence of "adequate support" offered to our schools.

It is time for delivery and accountability of each teacher, principal, parent, learner and WCED official. To fight poverty and create work we must produce learners with the skills, values, knowledge and attitudes that this country needs. We have no other choice.

Let us join this people's contract for quality education and make every school, ECD centre, ABET centre and FET college work, every day.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@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
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2007 WCED