Education Budget Speech 2006 | Western Cape Education Department

Education Budget Speech 2006

EACH ONE TEACH ONE – TOGETHER BUILDING A LEARNING HOME FOR ALL

ELKEEN LEER IEMAND - SAAM BOU ONS 'N LEERTUISTE VIR ALMAL

OMNYE UFUNDISA OMNYE - SAKHA KUNYE IKHAYA LOKUFUNDA LOMNTU WONKE

Friday, 19 May 2006, 14h15, Provincial Legislature, Cape Town

Budget Vote of Western Cape MEC for Education, Cameron Dugmore

Thank You Mr Speaker

Honourable Premier
Fellow Members of the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
The Superintendent General of Education and all other senior officials from the Western Cape Education Department
Invited guests from the education sector
Comrades, Friends and my Family
Honourable Premier
Fellow colleagues of the Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
The Superintendent General of Education and all other officials from the WCED
Invited guests from the education sector
Comrades, Friends and Family

Mr Speaker – it is with great pleasure that I am presenting to this House today, the third Education Budget during the term of this Provincial Government.

CONTEXTUAL BACKGROUND

I am doing so mindful of the fact that, in the last few weeks we celebrated the 12th Anniversary of Freedom Day; we celebrated International Workers’ Day, or May Day; and just last week we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the adoption of our Constitution by the Constitutional Assembly on 8 May, 1996.

The Bill of Rights states that everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education; and to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.

Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice in public educational institutions where that education is reasonably practicable. In order to ensure the effective access to, and implementation of, this right, the state must consider all reasonable educational alternatives, including single medium institutions, taking into account-

  1. equity;
  2. practicability; and
  3. the need to redress the results of past racially discriminatory laws and practices.

Today I wish to report to the House and the citizens of the province what we have achieved. I want to list the challenges we still face. I want to announce our Plan of Action. I want to introduce the members of the Team which is going to work to realise the dreams and aspirations of our people, as espoused in the Constitution.

ON THE THRESHOLD OF PROSPERITY – THE AGE OF HOPE

President Thabo Mbeki has reminded us that in the last few years our levels of inflation and interest rates are at the lowest; and business and consumer confidence are at the highest.

In fact, for the last 87 months in succession now, our country has experienced continued positive economic growth, which is a record compared with other developing nations. That is why the President declared our country was entering an "Age of Hope".

In his State of the Province Address, Premier Ebrahim Rasool stated that "… we are standing on the threshold of prosperity". Strong sectoral growth has fuelled a growth rate of 5.3% in the province for the second consecutive year. The buoyant local economy attracted direct foreign investment of R1.4-billion in 2005.

In the Premier’s budget presentation he expanded on this. in using John Berger’s analysis of Antonio Gramsci and noting that Gramsci "believed in hope rather than promises and hope is a long affair". I want to extend the idea of hope just a bit further. Vaclav Havel (1936 - ) one time President of the Czech Republic, prominent playwright and poet, one of the leading intellectual figures and moral forces in Eastern Europe said: "Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.". Our plan for today with its strong emphasis on community, is presented to you, Premier, as one of the first steps towards prosperity. We want to table a workplan.

Premier, there is indeed every reason for hope. In the last few years, this government has recorded some notable achievements in Education, some of which include the following:

  • The tabling of this budget today signifies greater stability in education in the Western Cape. The growth since my first budget speech in 2004/05 is 22.8%; and since the main appropriation in 2005/06, it is11%;
  • The last two years have seen an increase in the basket of posts to 657 additional posts, averting the possible retrenchment of 1,800 teachers in 2005;
  • The completion of 19 schools in mostly poor communities over the last two years, has meant that an additional 22,080 learners were accommodated, and 580 teachers employed. In this calendar year a further 9 schools will be completed, and an additional 2 before the end of the financial year.
  • The introduction of the National Curriculum Statement (FET) into grades 10, 11 and 12, over the next three years, prompted the establishment of 28 Focus Schools in 2005. With this, we aim to provide renewed opportunities for those learners with special interests and aptitudes in disadvantaged communities;
  • We have extended our Dinaledi and Maths, Science and Technology schools to a total of altogether 50 This is part of our objective of increasing the numbers of learners taking these scarce skills subjects;
  • From this year, 419 out of 424 schools have accepted the invitation to have "No Fee" status. This means the parents of almost 150,000 learners from our poorest school communities will not have to agonise over school fees any longer. This is probably one of the most significant steps in realising the vision of the Freedom Charter – that the doors of learning and culture shall be opened!
  • Just recently we have appointed 510 Teaching Assistants to support Foundation Phase teachers in poor schools across the province;
  • Not a single school in the province is now without electricity, including those in the most far-flung of rural areas;
  • For the second year in a row now, we have seen relatively smooth starts to the school year, which is the direct result of our Early Admission Campaign and Open Days; I am confident that next year will be even better;
  • We have seen the resolution of most of the "hot-spot" areas for learner accommodation as a result of our active engagement with our schools and communities, under the leadership of DDG John Lyners and his two able Chief Directors;
  • Almost without exception our high schools have computer labs;
  • The national programme of incentives to keep senior teachers in the classroom, reward those with scarce skills and those who teach in rural areas, has now been announced

I will elaborate on most of these points later.

CHALLENGES AS DAUNTING AS EVER

The President has called on all of us to "… move faster to address challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation confronting those caught within the Second Economy, to ensure that the poor in our country share in our growing prosperity..."

The Premier reminded us that 26.3% of our citizens are unemployed. Most are youth, which points to the massive skills challenge we face. The Premier reminded us that our prosperity would only be sustainable if we grow and share the Cape. So we cannot be complacent.

The challenge of overcoming the legacy of apartheid becomes very apparent when one analyses the matric pass rate of 2005. Whilst the pass rate in this province has been consistently more than 80% in the last five years, the reality is that the results of African and Coloured learners in ex-HOR and ex-DET schools continue to reflect apartheid disparities.

We have often pointed to the fact that nearly half of our learners leave high school before they reach matric. While many may opt for study at FET colleges or other forms of training, too many do not, and join the ranks of the unemployed and unemployable.

Last year, a total of 38,586 candidates completed all the examinations required for matric. A total of 32,573 candidates passed. Of these, 10,394 passed with Endorsement; 6,595 passed with Merit; and 2,201 passed with Distinction.

What is particularly disconcerting is that of the 10,144 African learners who wrote matric, only 2.38% passed Accountancy on the Higher Grade, compared with 6% of the Coloured learners and 21.3% of the White learners. For Mathematics on the Higher Grade only 3.9% African learners passed, 4.9% Coloured and 30.2% of the White learners. A total of 4.3% of the African learners, 4.7% of the Coloured learners and 26.7% of the White learners passed Physical Science on the Higher Grade.

After ten years of democracy, these statistics raise serious questions about how we deploy our resources. The challenge that we faced ten years ago still remains and that is to create an education and training system that ensures that people are able to realize their full potential in our society and participate meaningfully in the economy, locally and globally. We need to contend aggressively with the impact of poverty and degradation and grow functional literacy in our homes at the same time.

Whilst our Literacy and Numeracy strategy is designed to address this issue in the long term, by ensuring that learners acquire a solid foundation in General Education and Training before entering FET in schools and FET colleges, our Learner Attainment Strategy is designed to address Whole School Development.

This strategy has a wide range of programmes in place to address the needs of learners already in the system, who are preparing for matric or for further study in FET colleges, especially targeted at schools that have achieved pass rates of less than 60% last year.

The strategy builds on the successes of the WCED’s Learning Schools Programme. While this support programme has contributed to reducing the number of schools in this category, some schools continue to find it extremely difficult to cross this threshold.

Mr Premier, I hereby table a copy of the provincial strategy for our poorly performing schools, and examples of targets set by individual schools, in accordance with your request when you visited schools at the beginning of the year.

IKAPA ELIHLUMAYO AND HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT

Our Government has announced an eight-point battle plan to achieve the objective of growing our economy with six percent. Key elements of this plan include the Micro Economic Development Strategy (MEDS), and growing the skills’ base of the province.

The MEDS is one of several lead strategies of the government’s economic development blueprint - iKapa Elihlumayo - to grow and share the Cape. Our iKapa Elihlumayo strategy is now well established, as we grow and share the Cape in pursuit of our vision of a Home for All.

As Education, we are leading the Human Capital Development Strategy (HCDS), with a focus on youth. Our human capital strategy, launched earlier this year is a cornerstone of iKapa Elihlumayo and will guide education planning in the Western Cape for many years to come. Its development was ably led by the Superintendent of Education, Mr Ron Swartz. We have worked well as a team together.

Our mission with this strategy is to provide our youth with relevant skills, knowledge, values and attitudes that would allow them to participate meaningfully in the mainstream economy, and be internationally competitive.

With this strategy, we want to increase the participation and success rates of our youth, especially those from poor backgrounds, in FET colleges and higher education institutions,

The WCED believes that building human and social capital cannot be left to chance. Government must intervene directly to ensure human and social development, especially in our poorest communities.

The HCDS includes strategies for systemic change, as well as strategies for each education phase. The strategy is dedicated to transforming education, by ensuring access, redress and equity, and to ensuring quality education for all.

The HCDS has set targets for every education phase. This centrality of targets is critical and part of the new way of ensuring growth. The targets include the following:

  • Ensuring that all five-year-old children in the Western Cape have full access to high quality learning programmes. In 2005, 50,000 children attended Grade R. The WCED plans to cater for 80,000 Grade R learners by 2014.
  • Every learner in General Education and Training (GET), which covers Grades R to 9, must be able to read, write and calculate at levels required by the national curriculum. GET must provide a solid foundation for all future learning.
  • The education system must increase the number of learners, especially black learners, participating in FET in schools and colleges. FET will provide opportunities for learners to specialise according to their interests, aptitudes and the needs of the economy.
  • The WCED plans to increase the number of learners acquiring endorsement to enter higher education from 10,394 in 2005 to 20,000 by 2014.
  • The strategy intends increasing the number of learners in adult basic education and training (ABET), to encourage skills development and opportunities to complete formal schooling to 76,000 ABET learners by 2014.

WE ARE CONTINUING TO CHANGE THE WESTERN CAPE

I want to repeat what I said in my maiden Budget Speech two years ago, and which I repeated last year. I said "Siza kuyitshintsha leNthsona Koloni – We are going to change the Western Cape – Ons gaan die Wes-Kaap verander." This time I want to add the new mantra:

"EACH ONE TEACH ONE: TOGETHER BUILDING A LEARNING HOME FOR ALL."  "ELKEEN LEER IEMAND - SAAM BOU ONS 'N LEERTUISTE VIR ALMAL."  "OMNYE UFUNDISA OMNYE - SAKHA KUNYE IKHAYA LOKUFUNDA LOMNTU WONKE."

The challenges we face in seeking to transform education range from the basics, such as providing enough classrooms, to the complex task of ensuring that our learners achieve the outcomes required by the national curriculum.

That is why I have asked the department to focus on six priorities as we start implementing our Human Capital Development Strategy and meet the challenges identified by our President and Premier, especially in the area of skills development.

The priorities are not only applicable for the 2006/7 Budget Year, but in fact, for the rest of my term of office, namely:

  • Literacy and Numeracy
  • Further Education and Training in schools and FET colleges
  • Infrastructure Provisioning
  • School Safety
  • Redesign of the WCED
  • Social Capital in Education

Literacy and Numeracy

Possibly the most complex and difficult task we face as we seek to provide quality education for all, is to ensure that all of our learners achieve the outcomes required by the national curriculum, especially in our poorest schools. We have to start at the beginning with reading, writing and calculating in the Foundation and Intermediate Phases, from Grades R to 6.

The WCED has been studying learner performance in numeracy and literacy in Grades 3 and 6 over the past few years. For example, our study of Grade 3 learners in 2004 found that 39.5% of learners passed the literacy test on a Grade 3 level, compared to 35.3% in 2002. An average of 37.3% passed the numeracy test, compared to 36.6% in 2002.

While we are seeing signs of improvement, we still have a long way to go before learners in our poorest schools achieve the kind of results we are looking for. Our studies have shown that there is no quick fix, and that we have to deal systematically with a wide range of issues to turn the situation around.

Our target at this stage is to ensure that our learners achieve a pass rate of at least 50% in literacy and numeracy. We are asking schools to set targets that can be achieved, and to develop plans on how to achieve them. We are recording these individual targets and will monitor progress. I believe we must adjust our targets upwards of 50%.

Our experience has taught us that we have to work with schools on setting targets to ensure that that they take ownership of them. We will celebrate progress with our schools and will encourage them to raise the bar for the following year.

Essentially, we are seeking to ensure scaled up and massive support for literacy and numeracy development in General Education and Training, or GET, which covers Grades R to 9.

It is critical that Early Childhood Development and concurrent parental and community literacy are central elements of the steps to prosperity. We have to create massive social mobilization to make sure that all our children can read, write and calculate at levels required by the curriculum. Premier, you have urged seamless integration of the work by our departments and we are taking this injunction seriously: our proposed family literacy drive rests squarely on a comprehensive trans-sectoral and "Learning Cape" model.

We have appointed a Task Team, under the capable leadership of Deputy Director-General Brian Schreuder last year to strengthen and drive the department’s strategies to improve learner performance in numeracy and literacy.

Our strategies so far have focused on teacher training, development of materials, special interventions and diagnostic testing. While the basic strategies are in place, our studies have shown that we have to achieve greater coordination, monitoring and ongoing evaluation.

We will base the strategy on a solid foundation of educational theory, and will adopt a well-integrated, holistic approach to dealing with a wide range of issues, from early childhood development to teaching and learning support, and language of instruction.

This strategy will be the cornerstone of our plan to build human capital, and of our response to the President’s call for accelerated growth and skills development. The strategy will officially launch in July, but we have started implementing key elements already.

For example: in April this year, we appointed 510 Teaching Assistants to support Foundation Phase teachers in poor schools across the province, where they have the greatest need for this kind of support.

The Teaching Assistants are helping teachers to improve the numeracy and literacy skills of learners in the Foundation Phase in schools, which covers Grades 1 to 3. This is a direct response to the results of our studies on learner performance in Grades 3 and 6, which show that learners are struggling to meet the requirements of the national curriculum, especially in poor communities.

The duties of the teaching assistants include listening to learners’ reading, working with groups and individuals to improve word skills, developing number concept skills, and assisting teachers with classroom organisation and management.

This is a pilot project involving 163 schools. It has got off to a good start. The assistants are working well with the teachers they are supporting, and they are keen to make a difference in the reading, writing and maths skills of the learners in their care. If the project evaluation shows a good impact, then the department will consider expanding this form of support. In this case we will be seeking to expand the contractual obligations of the assistants so that amongst their duties they take on, say, 30 families which they will visit and work with on the proposed "family literacy" drive under the "each one teach one: together building a learning home for all" plan.

The results of our Adult Basic Education and Training learners also give us reason for hope. Ninety-nine centres and 1,855 candidates registered for the October 2005 assessment. This represents an 11,2% increase in the number of centres participating and a 9.9% increase in the number of candidates registering compared to October 2004.

The number of candidates (56) that achieved sufficient credits in this examination alone to qualify for a GET Certificate was more than double that of October 2004 (24 candidates). The evidence shows an increasing number of enrolments of adults in various programmes offered through our ABET centres.

These programmes make it possible for many adults to continue their interrupted education: ABET forms an important component of our Human Capital Development Strategy.

In this respect, I want to pay tribute to our oldest learner in ABET, Mrs Anna Ernest from the Worcester Community Learning Centre’s Touws River satellite. She could not read and write for her whole life – until, this year, she decided to enrol for her ABET level 1 course.

Honourable Members, Mrs Ernest is 97 years old. We have invited her, she is in the House, and I would like her to stand up, and for all of us to acknowledge her presence.

[Pause – Acknowledgement]

She is truly an inspiration to all of us and entire communities. She is also the product of the commitment and dedication of our EMDC officials in the Boland/Overberg, who have recently launched a sustainable 160 day intervention campaign in their ABET programme to increase access to ABET in their district.

Part of our ABET focus includes a review of the ABET provisioning with a focus on the question of possible full-time centres.

FET in schools and colleges

Recapitalisation of FET colleges will be a major thrust during the 2006/07 financial year. We have allocated R25-million to increasing the loan scheme for FET college students, which will make it possible to increase student enrolment dramatically, especially those students from poor communities.

Our FET colleges are also supporting the Learnership programme for in-service training, managed nationally by the Department of Labour. Examples include our support for MEC Fransman’s Learnership 1000 initiative. We will continue to develop college sector curricula and curriculum training for educators across the board. This support is playing a crucial role in enabling us to meet economic growth targets.

We are focusing on developing skills needed to meet the objectives of the MEDS, by increasing numbers in our FET colleges, while also encouraging learners to enter Higher Education, especially those planning to study maths, science and technology.

A very important development in building capacity in our FET Colleges, is the imminent appointment of Deputy Chief Executive Officers to all six FET colleges. I regard this as very important to our Human Capital Development Strategy and will give it my urgent personal attention.

Meanwhile, thanks to thorough preparation in our schools and by the WCED administration, we have successfully launched the national curriculum for Grades 10 to 12, starting with Grade 10 in 2006. Our preparations for introducing the curriculum in Grade 11 in 2007 are proceeding well.

We have also launched our programme to establish 28 focus schools in the Western Cape, specialising in Arts & Culture; Business, Commerce and Management; and Engineering and Technology. The programme will support the introduction of the national FET curriculum in schools and will improve access to quality education in subjects that were not previously available to learners in many disadvantaged areas.

The focus schools are distributed across every education district in the province. They meet our requirement for redress and will equip learners with scarce skills needed in the marketplace. The focus school programme complements our participation in the national Dinaledi maths and science focus schools. This year, we have increased the number of schools participating in this programme from 10 to 50.

We are adopting the focus principle in addition to whole school development for each and every school to make a difference in education in the province. Every centre of excellence will play a role in realising the potential of individual young people at these schools, which is a benefit in itself. We are looking at building a critical mass of excellence that will transform our whole society. I must therefore stress that the focus schools are part of a holistic redress macro-plan and should not be seen as an exercise which plans to create islands of elitism.

I briefly pull out just one focus area to illustrate how we need to work to convert vision into action: this province is providing winning young musicians in every Tirisano festival, every TV competition. My challenge today is for us to set about making the Western Cape the musical hub of the country. Our strategy for the development of music must look at institutes of contemporary music, at expanding opportunities for our young performers and at an indigenous music focus. I believe that the employment of itinerant music teachers at district level and a strong focus on vocational skills required for the music industry at the institutes linked to our FET colleges will unlock the potential of the talent we have in abundance. We have purchased the former CRIC building in Athlone Premier. I wish to inform this house that this building, strategically located along the Klipfontein corridor and in close proximity to Joseph Stone, has been identified as one of the sites for this initiative. It is from here that the Western Cape will develop the skills required for the music industry. Lumka Gauteng…sibeka ngaphambili apha entshona Koloni ! Die Wes-Kaap is duidelik.

Infrastructure Provisioning

While we still have a long way to go before we have enough classrooms where they are needed the most, we have made significant progress over the past year, and will continue to make progress in this regard during the current financial year.

In 2005/06, the province set a record by completing no less than 15 schools in one year and in time for the opening of the 2006 school year. We will complete a further nine schools by June this year, as well as 60 additional classrooms.

The province will build a further 11 schools during the 2006/07 financial year, bringing the total number of school built during the financial years of 2005/06 and 2006/07 to 35.

We thank the Department of Transport and Public Works for all their efforts in making this possible, and look forward to working with our partners in this department to complete this building programme. An additional task for 2006/07 will be to finalise the establishment of a Project Management Unit in the WCED to assist in managing building projects more effectively.

There is also a process to allocate funds directly to school governing bodies for infrastructure development. This process will cut red tape involved in emergency building and maintenance programmes as much as possible.

We are currently finalising local provisioning plans in every district so that we can develop a new provincial priority list for the building of schools, school halls and other infrastructure needs. We look forward to working with our colleagues in other departments as we implement these plans. In the course of the period ahead some tough decisions will have to be made.

In regard to infrastructural expansion we have three options: the sale of un-used state-owned school land; options under the adjustment budget and options under public-private partnerships. Clearly we will be pursuing all three.

School Safety

Today we must pause to remember the victims of the 2005 bus accident; we remember young Dane Darries and Cheslyn Jones who died in violent attacks; we record our pain at all the assaults, rapes and traumas experienced by our youth.

At the same time, we note our admiration for the heroes who helped out in these traumas – those who gave comfort, who gave counsel, who gave hope to the victims. In particular, Premier, I want to single out Kevin Arendse, a ten year old learner at Monte Video Primary, who was taken hostage and, in that time, showed incredible wisdom and bravery. I will formally nominate Kevin for a special Premier’s award this year. Our teachers are heroes too as they stand up against incursions onto school property and cope with the trauma, heartbreak and violence which seem to be part of the fabric of our society. I salute you all.

The WCED’s Safe Schools programme has developed to the point where our schools generally offer safe environments under the most difficult circumstances. This programme includes working closely with partners in a wide variety of sectors, from community organisations to sister departments and the police.

Our partnership with Community Safety provides an excellent example. Community Safety has received funding – an additional R6 million in this financial year- to deploy six Bambanani school safety volunteers to 100 schools – one of whom at each school is a parent.

Community Safety, working with Safe Schools, also pioneered the appointment of Learner Safety Officers, or LSOs, based at schools and EMDCs. The WCED has taken over this programme, and a new intake of LSOs is now contributing significantly to building safe school environments and to dealing with the issue of truancy.

Our children must be in school to equip themselves with knowledge, skills and values, so that they can become citizens who can help build their communities, and not break them down. In this context we look forward to the outcome of a formal review of our Safe Schools programme in this year.

Together with our sister departments, we will continue developing integrated approaches and strategies within the social cluster, by looking at the layered relationship between schools and their communities.

A school is part of the community, its community role is to reach and serve the community, opening its doors to everyone and enabling the whole community to become a learning community. Learners, teachers and administrative staff are not only school agents; they are also community agents, agents of social change and development.

There is a reciprocal relationship between safe schools and safe communities. A community that is engaged, that feels ownership and pride for its school, does not vandalise it and does not allow others to do so. We look to our role-model schools to give a lead in matters of extra-mural activities and their shaping power in young lives.

Later this year we will have a WCED Community School Week, which will be an inter-sectoral and transectoral effort, engaging all the Ministries in the Social Cluster, with a strong coordinating team and a coordinated plan on the ground. This initiative is intended to restore both hope and dignity to school communities. We have set aside some budget for it and hope that other ministries will likewise be able to support it.

In a "learning community" approach everyone in the community has learning needs and desires, and everyone can learn from one other. Hence the importance of linking this initiative with the Learning Cape Festival.

The key words are participation, collaboration, learning, process, ownership, integration, non-discrimination, joy. We need initiatives that count on youth as the main actors, not part of the problem but part of the solution.

Youth are both school and community actors, and have a critical bridging role in all the activities and phases of the community/school relationship, bringing play, humour, music, and joy to it.

Social Capital Development

I would like to take some time to talk about the contribution the WCED can make to Social Capital Development, The Premier said in his State of the Province Address that: "The fourth element of the battle plan against poverty must be safe, healthy and integrated communities. Strong communities based on vibrant and loving families is the cornerstone of prosperity ..."

A fifth element in the battle plan "has to be the facilitation of strong civic life". "Ordinary people are the most important actors in achieving developmental success over the long term. What guarantees such success is when ordinary people are organised and networked into and across community structures both to protect and serve communities".

The social psychologist, Lionel Tiger, argues that hope is an "essential vitamin for social processes"/ "sisakha-mzimba esiyimfuneko kwiinkqubo zokutshintsha imeko yezentlalo" /"onmisbare vitamiene vir sosiale prosesse". If everybody awoke each day to announce ‘It’s hopeless’, there would soon be (he says) no plausible tomorrow and no continuous social arrangements". The existentialist philosopher, Gabriel Marcel, agrees when he argues that hope "is only possible at the level of the us . . . and does not exist on the level of the solitary ego".

But a fundamental challenge for us is for us to define and nurture those seeds of hope. And for us to note the creative role of hope. Hope encourages the development of imaginative solutions to seemingly huge difficulties. In fact, David Halpin radically argues that "unless hope has been aroused and is alive, there can be no planning" / "ngaphandle kokuba ithemba liye lavuselelwa kwaye liphilile, akunakubakho zicwangciso" / "tensy hoop gewek is en lewend is, kan daar geen beplanning wees nie.."

The cultural historian, Raymond Williams, quoted by David Halpin, remarks that it is only in a shared belief and insistence that there are practical alternatives that the balance of forces and chances begins to alter. Once the inevitabilities are challenged, he says, we begin gathering our resources for a journey of hope / reis met hoop / uhambo lwethemba.

For the first time this year we have a printed WCED "Plan of Action" which is included in your package, and, in the case of members on the memory stick donated for you by Oracle. The Plan of Action is still in draft form because it is still organic and in an iterative shape. However it presents an elaboration of all of our priorities, it contextualises my priorities and tries to ensure that all our efforts are seamlessly aligned and geared towards massive impact. It is part of our "journey of hope".

The social capital priorities listed in the POA are:

  1. RCL Association and RCLs
  2. SGB intervention
  3. Local Government Links
  4. Youth and Heritage Celebrations
  5. Strengthening School Sport
  6. School Business managers
  7. Western Cape Education Foundation
  8. Retired Teachers’ Association
  9. "Adopt a School" Project with Chamber of Commerce
  10. ABET feasibility studies
  11. Pilot projects regarding past pupils associations
  12. Teacher supply and development

I would like to mention two examples of the work we are currently engaged in to build social capital in education. The first involves creating an Association of Representative Councils of Learners to provide a voice for our primary clients in education, namely our learners in the classroom.

The Association will also provide a forum in which learner leaders can debate what they can do to ensure effective teaching and learning environments in their schools. The future ultimately belongs to our learners. They have to take ownership of their futures, and the best way they can do so is to obtain a good quality education.

Our RCLs can play a crucial role in our schools by addressing issues such as learner rights and responsibilities, human rights, learner discipline, diversity, substance abuse, gangsterism and HIV and AIDS, to mention just a few.

We organised a very successful RCL conference last year. The conference appointed an interim committee to consider a provincial structure and constitution. On June 15 this year we will launch the constitution and the association, as part of paying tribute to the 30th Anniversary of the generation of 1976. In the gallery today we have the chairperson of the interim committee, Albertus Duba of Cape Town High School – I should like to pay tribute to him and other members of the WCRCL.

Meanwhile, we are also encouraging retired and ex-teachers to come together and form an association, to work in a partnership with government in improving education for all our learners. This is in line with our commitment to work in partnership with all relevant stakeholders who can assist with the reconstruction and development of our country.

I have asked retired and ex-teachers who are interested in establishing such a forum, to submit their contact details to the Office of the Ministry. We already have over 200 names. We would like to convene a meeting with such stakeholders in the near future, with a view to forming an interim steering committee, and subsequently a long-term operational framework.

Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, you may also be aware that between May and June this year, all public schools are expected to elect members of School Governing Bodies. After the national and provincial, and local government elections, this is the largest democratic process in SA, involving more then 25,582 schools, with nearly 200,000 seats that need to be filled.

The national theme for this year’s elections is: 'Vote for your child's future'. I want to call on all our parents, and even Members of this House, to become involved as positive agents for transformation. SGBs are responsible for effective governance of schools. It is therefore important that they consist of members with the necessary capacity for the task.

The WCED is actively involved in this process, and does ongoing work to empower SGBs. The objectives of the training programme are aligned with the Human and Social Capital Development Strategy of the Western Cape Provincial Government. We plan a conference with SGB associations before the end of the year with a view to setting up a consultative forum.

WCED Redesign

Our sixth priority for 2006 will be to look at redesigning the WCED. We have now begun work on implementing our Human Capital Development Strategy. The first phase of this project includes investigating whether the WCED has the capacity to implement the strategy.

We will redesign the WCED where necessary to ensure that we have this capacity. The process will also provide us with an opportunity to address the issue of transformation in the WCED. We are calling this process the WCED Redesign Project.

Restructuring is critical to ensure that our organizational structure and culture is aligned to our strategy. At the same time the opportunity will allow us to make sure that our department represents all the people of this province.

The President and the Premier have both alerted us to the focus on women in this year and the President refers specifically to the need to "pay the necessary attention to the important issues of the inclusion of women and people with disabilities at decision-making levels of the public service".

It is simply not acceptable that our department has so few women of all races, particularly in Senior Management and that African people remain under-represented in the WCED. We need to use every opportunity this year to ensure that employment equity is advanced.

Our vision for the WCED is a Learning Home for All. Our own department must also be a home for all – African, Coloured, White, Indian, men, women, young, old and differently-abled. We will continually strive to be representative of the people of the Western Cape.

POLICY PRIORITIES

Our programme for the current financial year includes developing a range of policies to support the implementation of the Human Capital Development Strategy. I list some of them:

School capacity and admissions

These include a School Capacity and Admissions policy to guide school admissions for 2007. We are currently analysing the legal opinion received on our proposed policy. The National Department of Education will also be invited to participate in these discussions.

Learner transport

We are also developing a formal WCED Learner Transport Policy. Our Learner Transport Scheme is the largest of its kind in the country, and contributes significantly to improving access to education in our poorest communities, especially in rural areas.

The scheme represents an annual investment of about R110-million, and still remains a contested issue. We apply a guideline of providing transport for learners from poor communities who live more than five kilometres from their nearest school and where public transport is not available.

Strictly speaking, providing transport does not form part of our formal mandate as an education department. We need a clear policy on transport provision, and we are inviting research and engaging with the Department of Transport and others to study this issue. A strong feeling exists that learner transport should be integrated into the national public transport system.

Meanwhile, we are considering appeals against the application of the five kilometre guideline, but only where learner safety is at stake.

Education Provisioning Plans

Our Head Office and EMDCs are currently engaged in consultations with schools and colleges on provisioning plans for every district and circuit. Issues include how to use all of our resources as effectively as possible. The setting up of education fora and Draft Education Provisioning Plans for all category B municipalities and sub-councils in the metropolitan area will be primary vehicle for consultation of the local education provisioning plans. In the case of education in the Western Cape this means that 44 local education-provisioning plans must be finished this year based on our 24 category municipalities and 20 metro sub-councils. These must be according to a standard template which is accessible and easy to understand. In essence these should be local reflections of the HCDS.

In line with our commitment to seamless government, we are working with local government to ensure greater alignment between local area development and education provision. As a result, our redesign project includes aligning our education district boundaries with those of local authorities.

In the end, we have to ensure that we use scarce resources as effectively and efficiently as possible to ensure the best possible education for every learner in our classrooms. We plan to begin these consultations in July 2006.

Language in Education Transformation Plan

After a period of careful consultation with all stakeholders, the WCED is ready to announce its targets for a major Language-in Education Transformation Plan.

Starting in this year, we intend to conduct an intensive induction programme for officials and then for teachers to ensure that we have a skilled and knowledgeable team ready to support our two targets before we move into a high-profile outreach programme amongst parents and the community.

Our targets are:

  • To encourage schools to extend mother tongue tuition to the end of Grade 6 as a minimum, while simultaneously developing learners' English skills to a high degree of competence. This is a model known as mother-tongue-based bilingual education.
  • To encourage schools to provide at least three years of tuition in all three languages of the province before the end of the GET band: this nation-building exercise in trilingual proficiency should contribute in time to genuine growth and social harmony in the province.

This will be a process and will be accompanied by a comprehensive training programme to equip teachers to handle the challenge with the required skills. We will not achieve these objectives overnight. As it is a process that will have to be phased in over several years there will be no going back once we have started.

Public-Private Partnerships

Another key area of policy development will be that involving public private partnerships. We have paid particular attention to developing the Western Cape Education Foundation over the past year, in conjunction with our private sector partners, and will continue this process in 2006.

The Foundation was established jointly by the WCED and private sector partners to improve the quality of education in the Western Cape through effective public/private partnerships. Our idea is to set up a "one stop shop" for all partners and funders who would like to make a contribution to educational growth in the province. We want to set the scene for niche partnerships, for small partnerships and for large-scale ones.

Our plans include appointing dedicated staff to administer and drive the day-to-day affairs of the Foundation. Tasks of the Foundation include fundraising and ensuring that efforts to support education are closely aligned with our strategic objectives.

Other partnerships

Our programme of action this year also includes working with other provincial departments on a wide range of initiatives to support youth and women, given these special focus areas this year.

Examples include attention to drug abuse, in collaboration with Community Safety, promoting entrepreneurship with Finance and Tourism, HIV and AIDS education with Health, among many others.

NATIONAL PRIORITIES

Other priorities for 2006 include developing policies on access to public school facilities, school outings and the registration of independent schools. Meanwhile, we are pleased to report on progress in the Western Cape on implementing national priorities.

No Fee Schools

We are pleased to announce that 419 schools have applied for "no fee" status in the Western Cape, out of 424 that we originally invited to apply. This represents a positive response of 98.8%. The offer forms part of the roll-out of a new national policy to scrap fees in poor schools.

The President signed the Education Laws Amendment Act 24 of 2005 on 26 January this year (2006) to allow the national Minister of Education to identify categories of schools that may not charge school fees.

The department will allocate R29-million during the 2006/07 financial year for this initiative, followed by amounts of R139-million and R237-million 2007/08 and 2008/09 respectively. Because of limited funds available for the 2006/07 financial year, the WCED will focus on the poorest primary schools as part of the first phase of implementing "no fee" school status.

The WCED therefore approached 424 primary schools to opt voluntarily for "no fee" status as from 1 May 2006. A total of 146,192 learners attend these schools, representing about 15.9% of all our learners.

The department will continue phasing in the implementation of this policy in 2007/08, with a view to completing this process during the 2008/09 financial year, at schools representing about 37.6% of our learners.

Early Childhood Development

We will continue to focus on Early Childhood Development in line with national priorities and our Human Capital Development Strategy. This will include maintaining our increased subsidy of between R6 and R8 for ECD sites in poor communities. We are also looking at increasing an allocation made for Grade R teacher training.

Special Needs Education

We are in the process of implementing the national inclusive education policy for learners with special education needs. Focus areas this year will include finding ways of expanding access to special education. We have allocated over R7 million in this budget to establish two additional schools of skill. Our key challenge is that we still have over 3000 learners who would best be placed in our special schools.

Education Management Information Systems

Other national priorities include the development of our education management information system, known as EMIS. We are pleased to announce that EMIS at the WCED is seeing significant progress. Our most recent project is our new Learner Tracking System.

The system, the first of its kind in South Africa, is designed to improve efficiency and the quality of education in the Western Cape. The system consists essentially of a single database of all learners in the Western Cape’s public schools, from Grades R to 12. The database will provide a powerful management tool for both schools and the administration.

We completed the first phase of the project at the start of this year, which involved completing the database. The second phase will include analysing the data and making it available for management decision-making.

While on the subject of information technology, we are pleased to report that we are making major progress towards supporting teaching and learning in our schools and colleges, via the Khanya and Dassie projects and with the support of the Shuttleworth Foundation.

Major achievements last year included ensuring that every high school has a computer laboratory, to support the roll-out of the new national curriculum for Grades 10 to 12. We are now debating the value of putting single computers in classrooms in the primary school so that learners can work on individualised programmes.

EFFECTIVE SCHOOLS, TEACHER SUPPORT AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Our teachers remain the most valuable assets in our quest for quality education. The morale of our teachers, their qualifications, experience and competence, are key indicators of likely quality outcomes.

Coupled with this is the state's role in the continuing development, support and resources allocated to the school and teacher. Leadership, discipline and the professional culture of staff contribute greatly to the quality of outcomes.

I am therefore pleased to report that the WCED is about to implement the latest collective agreement of the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC). This agreement provides for improved career pathing for qualified post level one teachers, as well as accelerated salary progression for all teachers on certain salary levels.

The agreement makes provision for the new rank of Master Teacher. We can promote Senior Teachers on Salary Level 8 to the rank of Master Teacher on Salary Level 9, if they meet performance criteria determined by the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS).

The agreement on accelerated pay progression now enables teachers to progress more rapidly through a salary level, for example, by three notches after three years of good performance. Teachers can also achieve three notch increases over five years, for example, if they achieve three good performance ratings during this period.

The initiative is part of R4.2 billion allocated to improve the remuneration of educators nationwide. We believe that this agreement will go a long way towards encouraging teachers to give of their best, and for the department to reward their efforts.

In the context of teacher development, I want to stress the need for our relationship with our unions to take on new dimensions. I want to express a sincere wish that we should meet less at the ELRC and meet more to determine our united actions to lead the learning turnaround in our province.

Whilst on the one hand we must make sure that the conditions of service of teachers is continuously improved, I learnt from my trip to the UK last year, that the single most important contributing factor in 80% of successful, effective schools, is LEADERSHIP.

We have a situation where many people contest very aggressively, and sometimes mischievously, for promotion posts. There have been instances of bribery involved.

Last year I studied the concept of School Business Management, and the positive impact it had on the confidence of those who participated in the various courses and programmes. I am not proposing that schools are in any way "businesses" but I am saying that they need to be managed soundly according to tried and tested management principles.

Many of the UK school business managers, who were once receptionists, secretaries or administrators, are now integrated into school management teams, which is a very positive development. We are currently discussing a forum of school secretaries and administrators, to canvass their views on a possible curriculum for school managers, which can perfectly be offered by our FET colleges. This certificated course will be piloted in the second term of 2007. Our partners are the South African Bursars of Independent Schools of South Africa, National College of School Leadership, Manchester Metropolitan University and the Institute of Administrative Management.

A project team is making good progress and our partners will work with us in July to finalize our plans for 2007. It is critical that our course is both NQF accredited and internationally recognized.

THE 2006/07 BUDGET ALLOCATIONS

The Western Cape will spend nearly R6.988-billion on education in 2006/07. Whereas the 2005/06 budget constituted 30,4% of the overall provincial government’s budget, this financial year’s amount has increased significantly, and constitutes 38% of the total provincial budget, which is an increase of R728-million compared to the previous financial year.

Honourable Speakers, Members of the House and the public, the fact that Education accounts for the largest slice of the total provincial budget, is a bold statement of the commitment of this Provincial Government to build human capital and to grow and share the Cape.

This budget and this house are placing an awesome responsibility on both myself and the WCED, and we need to spend this money wisely. I am pleased to report that we have planned our expenditure carefully, under the leadership of DDG Johan Fourie and his team, and that we are ready to meet your expectations for the 2006/07 financial year.

As can be expected, public ordinary schooling will receive the largest slice of the budget, at R5.7-billion. Other major programmes include special school education, general administration, further education and training colleges, and auxiliary and associated services, which will receive amounts of R382.4-million, R264.7-million, R259.9-million and R207.2-million respectively.

Other highlights include, as indicated earlier, special funding to enable us to introduce "No Fee" schools. The province has allocated R29.3 million for this purpose in 2006/07. Allocations will increase each year for no fee schools totalling R404.4-million during the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, namely from 2006/07 to 2008/09. The amounts will be R527 in 2006/7, rising to R554 in 2007/8 and again to R772 in 2008/9.

The WCED will provide increased support to disadvantaged schools by allocating a benchmark norms and standards subsidy of R527 per learner to all declared "No Fee" schools.

We are increasing our total allocation for Grade R by 49% from 2005/06 to R107.4 million in 2006/07, reflecting increased concern for early childhood development. The province will spend R534.3 million during the MTEF period on ensuring that increasing number of learners have access to quality Grade R programmes.

We will improve the conditions of schooling by spending R228.1-million during the MTEF period on meeting equipment backlogs and replacing rundown school equipment in disadvantaged schools.

We will spend R68,8 million 2006/07 on the implementation of the national curriculum in schools. We are currently recapitalising all six FET colleges in the Western Cape, using national conditional grant funding. This will amount to R70-million in 2006/07, and R227-million during the MTEF period.

We are using the funds to support increased student enrolment, upgrade the college sites (including physical infrastructure and equipment) and introduce new and modern programmes.

We also plan to spend more money on bursaries for financially needy and academically deserving learners, especially in those skill areas most in demand by the provincial economy right now.

To promote access and equity at FET Colleges, the iKapa Elihlumayo Financial Aid Plan is providing R25-million in 2006/07 to provide financial aid for needy FET college students. We anticipate that 1,500 learners will benefit during 2006/07. Clearly the only way to increase access to our FET Colleges is either to increase funding dramatically to bring down the costs of courses or to introduce a national bursary/loan scheme for the sector. I know that Minister Pandor is urgently addressing this matter.

CONCLUSION

Our slogan for this speech is "Each one, teach one – together building a learning home for all". By reaching out to help one another, we will release an unstoppable force that can only serve to build better lives for all.

I would like to thank the Superintendent–General Mr Ron Swartz and Mr Paul Rockman in his Office, whose good relationship with my Head of Office, Nazeema Hendricks, has helped to cement the links between the department and the ministry. I thank the DDGs, Chief Directors and the whole of WCED Broad Management, for all their hard work in addressing the huge challenges we are facing in education in this province.

While there is much to do, there are also plenty of examples of how the work of the WCED represents the cutting edge in education delivery in the country. For this I would like to thank our 1,500 school principals; our 30,000 dedicated teachers; the lecturers and leaders of the six FET colleges; and the more than 8,000 public civil servants. All of you are making a difference in the lives of our almost one million learners.

I would like to thank our school and college management teams who are showing such excellent leadership in so many communities in every district across the province; all of our partners, in the public and private sectors, labour, civil society and in higher education, who are working with us to ensure quality education for all.

In her absence I want to thank Minister Naledi Pandor. I acknowledge the role of the Standing Committee on Education, in particular the Chairperson Mrs Joyce Witbooi.

A special and big thank you to all of my staff members in my Office, ie Nazeema Hendricks, my Advisor Archie Lewis, Gert Witbooi, Josie Malesela, Chris Gqogqa, Lydia Wabani, Anne Schlebusch (seconded to my office), Japie Lewin and Shadrack Nenzani. Thank you to Denise Alcock for standing in for somebody who has since taken up another job offer – Bernadette Baxter (she used to be Engelbrecht).

Thank you to my fellow colleagues in the Executive Council for your support, my friends and family, my parents and particularly my wife Melanie and daughters Aleya and Jenna – for understanding the need for me to sometimes spend such long hours away from you.

Mr Speaker, at the beginning of the speech I indicated that I was going to report on successes, outline the challenges, define our plan of action and introduce the team.

Our approach is inevitably a holistic one. The displays outside have featured the essence of our approach: if you had time to view them you will have seen sport, music, wellness and nutrition alongside the very practical matters of funding for further studies, the learnership options and a mini-showcase for our local institutes of higher learning. Other government departments were represented there as were SETAs.

Mr Speaker, the title of today’s speech and the themes I have picked up on are all to do with community and growth. In our midst today we have representatives of our amazing transformation team: we have volunteer readers, Mr Speaker, retired teachers, our RCL chair, COSAS and Provincial Youth Commission leaders, business and union leaders, funders, our service providers, our tertiary institutions, our SGB associations, principals of our new schools and of focus schools, leaders at FET colleges, volunteer occupational therapists, our own officials, partners of all kinds and a large team of talented young sportsmen and women. I know I can also rely on our ANC leadership and foot soldiers who are here today in their numbers. I am encouraged by the support for our plans from across the political spectrum.

These people represent our force, Mr Speaker, these are our volunteers. This is our team. Their shirts say most of it, their faces, their willing hearts and their incredible CVs say the rest: Each one teach one. Sibanye/saam/together: VOLUNTEER.

From this vantage point, Mr Speaker, we can only see those in the house. But outside in the Auditorium today are scores more. And in our streets, factories and communities, thousands stand ready. And if you come to our braai afterwards there will be shirts for all of you in the chamber as well. I remind us then of Raymond Williams’ words that once the inevitabilities are challenged we begin gathering our resources for a journey of hope / reis met hoop / uhambo lwethemba.  With this force, Mr Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, and this energy, how can we fail to make an impact?

Thank you very much…

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