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BUILDING A LEARNING HOME FOR ALL
Education Budget Speech: 26 April, 2005
Western Cape MEC for Education, Cameron Dugmore
Thank You Mr Speaker
I remain convinced that a dedicated focus on Early Childhood Development in our province is central to achieving the desired outcomes over the medium and long term. We have to make sure that as government we work in an integrated way so that the physical, social and cognitive development of all our 0 to 4-year-olds is at the top of our agenda. In addition to our programme of providing high quality grade R tuition to all 5 year olds by 2010, we must make sure that our learners from grades 1 to Grade 6 read, write and calculate at levels determined by the national curriculum. This is the core business of our department. It is clear that if we as parents, care-givers and members of the community fully embrace our role as central players in the education of our children, great progress can be achieved.
Honourable Members, this is why you will find books in your packages. I am calling on you to find opportunities not only to read to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews but to make sure when you visit our ECD sites and Schools you actively promote the culture of reading amongst all our learners and teachers. This is a gesture to highlight our focus on Early Childhood Development and our efforts to make a decisive intervention at this level. It is upon this foundation in the early years that we can provide the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed as part of our Human Capital Strategy.
It is very fitting that I present this Budget Speech in the week of UNESCO's Education for All Global Campaign, which is intended to remind governments’ and the international community of our collective commitment to achieve Education for All by 2015.
In June last year in my first Budget Speech, I said: Siza kuyitshintsha le Ntshona Koloni! - Ons gaan die Wes-Kaap verander! Over the last year the extent of this challenge has become even clearer. The legacy of apartheid education has left deep scars underlining the need for the implementation of policies aimed at transforming the curriculum and achieving equity and redress.
For example, when I came into office in May last year, I found a situation where some of our children still had to get up in the early morning hours to take a bus, and drive past an existing school to an adjacent town some 10 kilometers away. When one asked " Why?", the answer often was " The school is full". And yet, the school to which the learners were being transported, was even fuller.
I found a situation where there are two schools in a town, one historically white with empty classrooms, low learner numbers and lots of resources. The other school in the historically disadvantaged community is normally overcrowded and has very few resources, with parents battling to keep up with school fees because of poverty levels. When one asked: "Why not amalgamate?", the standard answer was: "it will lead to the lowering of standards, crime and overcrowding...".
Some schools have more than 12ha of land, fully-fledged sportsfields, school halls, equipped science laboratories and computer labs with Internet access. On the other hand, when I came into office, a number of our schools in the rural areas did not even have electricity or proper sanitation facilities!
Over the last ten years great progress has been made in ensuring almost universal enrolment in our primary schools. The challenge is that sharp contrasts in academic performance among our schools exist – these contrasts are often defined along racial and economic lines.
We pause at this milestone satisfied that we have made an important difference in some areas in the past year. At the same time we are acutely aware of the challenges that remain; and we recommit ourselves to a sustained struggle against the legacy of injustice and inequality.
Building Human Capital with a focus on Youth
The Premier has mandated our department to develop a Human Capital Strategy with a focus on youth as one of the lead strategies for Ikapa Elihlumayo, the provincial growth and development plan. We have been given until June to finalize the draft strategy. Much work had been done since 2003 in developing a long-term vision for the department known as vision 2020. It was agreed that our focus needed to be shifted to the specific goals of the Human Capital Development Strategy. An important part of the consultation process was the convening of a provincial education conference last month where over 700 delegates from the education sector engaged in debate and discussion on the draft strategy. I believe that the conference raised important issues about the role of education in our province and highlighted a number of gaps in the strategy itself.
The key values that underpin our vision and mission are based fundamentally on our Constitution, namely democracy, social justice and equity, equality, non-racialism and non-sexism, human dignity, an open society, accountability, the rule of law, respect and reconciliation.
The specific goals of our draft Human Capital Development Strategy are:
A process of further engagement with our EMDC’s and key sectors will take place as we work towards finalizing the strategy.
Building Social Capital
Central to the development of our schools as places where effective learning and teaching takes place is the need for us to build social capital within education. We have committed R1, 5 million in this financial year towards the training and development of School Governing Bodies. This is critical to ensure that the running of our schools takes place with the active and sustained involvement of our parents and the community.
We need ongoing support for our SGB’s and to also build the capacity of our parents to make a contribution. I have visited many schools where the governing body plays a critical role in securing community involvement and support for the school. Not only do we need to focus on the individual SGB’s, but also assist in bringing them together at a provincial level to share best practices and experiences. We are planning to bring our Sib’s together in August at a provincial summit.
Much more needs to be done to build the leadership skills of our learners. We have also committed some funds this year towards the strengthening of our RCL’s and bringing them together at a provincial level. I believe that the Provincial Youth Commission, once appointed, also needs to play a key role in developing youth leadership at our schools. Strong learner councils will assist in our work to create safe schools and in our campaigns against HIV/Aids, gangsterism and drugs.
Our initiative to form an Association of Retired and ex-Teachers, to utilize their skills to further assist in improving the quality of our education is on track and part of our social capital strategy.
We were also set new April delivery targets by the Premier and have made progress in regard to these:
We should be cautious to use the Matric Results, as is sometimes done, as the only yardstick to measure our performance as a department. Last year our province achieved, for the fourth time in a row, a pass rate of more than 80%. Although our 85% matric pass rate for 2005 was the highest in the country, we realize that the pass rate fails to reflect the high percentage of learners who drop out due largely to socio-economic factors.
Of the 38,896 candidates who wrote the Senior Certificate examination last year, the number of candidates achieving endorsement increased from 10,323 from 2003, to 10,524 in 2004, which is an increase of 201 learners. The number of candidates who passed with Distinction, which is an aggregate of more than 80%, increased from 2,170 to 2,202 - which is an increase of 23 learners.
In the subject of mathematics we had 3,938 candidates passing on the higher grade in 2003. In 2004 it increased to 4,268, which is an increase of 330 learners. In 2003 we had 3,892 learners who passed physical science on the higher grade. Last year we have increased it to 3,937, an increase of 45 learners.
The schools, which have contributed to the increases in numbers on the quality indicators, are from the entire spectrum of school types - former model C schools, former House of Representatives and former DET. In this respect, the number of endorsements from former DET schools has risen from 270 in 2003 to 390 in 2004 and the number of higher grade maths candidates from 78 to 136.These are small but significant numbers, and there is considerable room for improvement. Our challenge now is to support our schools to dramatically increase the number of endorsements and thereby increase the numbers of our learners going on to higher education.
Recognition of Excellence
Very often media reports about education focus on issues, which impact negatively on our schools. While it is important that key challenges are highlighted, I know that everyday our teachers, parents and learners perform miracles in the classroom and in the community, but these efforts do not attract the same kind of attention.
We have in the gallery the principals or representatives of schools, which have done us proud in this year's Most Improved Schools Awards in Pretoria about a month ago. They are the Edgemead High School for first place in Mathematics; Atlantis Secondary School for first place in the category Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching; and Zola Secondary School for first place in the category Special Consistency Improvement.
Zola Secondary School has experienced a phenomenal increase in the number of learners writing the Senior Certificate examinations and has demonstrated tremendous industry in increasing the number of exemptions from two in 2002 to 16 in 2004. Besides doubling their numbers over the last two years, they have also increased their pass rate significantly over the same period.
A special award in the category Consistent Improvement and Racial Integration Award, was given to one school from each province, and in the Western Cape, Muizenberg Junior scooped the honours. As an ex-Model C school it is the first choice for children from previously disadvantaged areas like Strandfontein, Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.
The school provides excellent education not only for the children of Muizenberg, but also for those who travel long distances to attend. Muizenberg Junior School has a truly dedicated and diverse staff.
I am highlighting only a few examples of schools in our province, which excel but never grab the headlines. Well done!
Provincial Education Plan
Our department is currently undertaking the massive task of integrating the work done on the rural education plan as well as in the metro region into a single provincial education plan. This is critical given the need for us to utilize our resources and space optimally. In some instances we will have to amalgamate or close certain schools. Critical to this plan will also be the finalization of our draft policy on school capacity i.e. when is a school full. We will then have a much clearer idea as to how much additional space is required. Some schools will then manage their numbers up over time while others will have to reduce their numbers. Our department will then also be in a position to reprioritise the list of schools we need to build. This plan will also need to be linked with the housing delivery strategy of our various local governments, an example of this being the N2 Gateway Project in the City of Cape Town.
A critical part of this strategy, which our communities need to accept, is that we have no choice but to phase out the learner transport system where there are alternatives available.
It is vital that we engage with our schools as we move towards finalization of the plan. In some quarters there appears to be a concern that we are determined to phase out single language medium of instruction schools. This is not the case. We currently have 704 schools offering Afrikaans single medium classes, 19 switched to parallel medium last year, and there are only 239 English single medium schools. With regard to the Mikro matter, I want to stress again today that our approach was not informed by a desire to undermine or attack Afrikaans.I have stated right from the outset that it was about access of learners who reside in the immediate proximity of the school. What is needed in Kuilsriver and other communities is an engagement with the provincial plan in order that the interests of all learners can be met. As we try and meet the education needs of our communities in the context of severe infrastructure backlogs, it is vital that we show flexibility and willingness to compromise.
I am also pleased that my colleague, MEC Skwatsha indicated in his Budget Speech last week that his department will have completed the building of at least 20 new schools by the end of this year ready for the start of the 2006 school year.
Recently Cabinet has taken a decision that the WCED must take over the responsibility for the Capital Works budget from Public Works with effect from 1 April 2005. The budget for 2005/06 which amounts to R170 972 000 is already committed to existing projects.
The current process to ensure a smooth transition is that a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is in place to establish the relationship between Public Works and the WCED. This would, however, be replaced by a Service Level Agreement once the first phase issues have been resolved. We have Provincial Treasury involved, as the co-ordinator of this process. We will be meeting Public Works on a monthly basis to monitor the progress in respect of expenditure and the related deadlines with regards to various projects.
Literacy and Numeracy
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, I am sure you are aware that in terms of literacy and numeracy, the majority of our learners do not perform at acceptable levels in all grades.
We have commissioned a programme for regular diagnostic testing to identify areas for special attention, as part of our strategy to develop literacy and numeracy and ensure that our learners perform at levels required by the national curriculum.
Since receiving the initial results a number of initiatives were undertaken i.e. by providing 100 books to every primary school classroom; providing mathematics, science and technology kits supported by teaching materials and lesson plans for teachers; and continued training for teachers on the revised national curriculum. This training forms part of a broader strategy to improve numeracy and literacy skills. I also believe that our ECD intervention will contribute to improvement in literacy and numeracy amongst our learners.
What has emerged is the need for tight monitoring and evaluation of these interventions. A decision has now been taken to establish a task team of curriculum specialists from across the province to strengthen and drive our numeracy and literacy strategy. This team will ensure that interventions are monitored at the level of the classroom on a continuous basis. This will be given priority by the WCED and become a standing item at top management meetings. Through this work we must ensure that far greater numbers of our learners begin to perform at the required levels.
Transformation within the WCED
The transformation agenda in my department is an ongoing one. It is clear that progress in reaching employment equity targets particularly at senior management level has been slow.
At present we do not have an instrument to ensure that we are able to offer those in the service and opportunity to exit the system. I have raised the issue with the team from the National Department for the Public Service and Administration and hope that their report will provide advice and assistance in this regard. I want to emphasize that transformation is not only about creating demographic representivity but also changing the way we serve our communities, guided by the principles of Batho Pele.
Over the last 3 years we have been managing the redeployment of staff in excess from over 1,200 to little more than 200 at present. The need to place staff in excess makes it difficult to appoint new applicants in pursuit of our targets.
There has been a shift in the direction of the designated groups over the past three years. Our biggest challenge remains to recruit more African men & women and Coloured women at the middle and senior management levels.
When one analyses the type of incidents, which have occurred at our schools over the last months, it is clear that solutions do not lie with our department alone. The very creation of the safe schools programme arose out of the threat posed by external factors such as gangsterism and crime. Behavioural and discipline problems amongst learners at some of our schools also impact on the culture of learning and teaching. The challenge facing our schools requires an integrated response guided by partnerships at local and provincial level.
Just last week a gang of about 20 thugs invaded the Arcadia High School in Bonteheuwel, conducting a class-by-class search for a learner, threatening the principal and severely traumatising learners and educators. On the same day an educator at Boundary Primary was robbed of her bag at gunpoint inside the school as she walked down the corridor. The fatal shooting of False Bay College student Loyiso Kuta outside the college also focussed attention on safety at our FET colleges. The week before, a grade 9 educator was assaulted by a group of parents, within full view of the learners. A grade 8 pupil at Perseverence High kicked a pregnant teacher in her stomach after an altercation. Earlier this year a Grade 5 boy at Montevideo was held hostage by an alleged tik addict who shot and injured one of our educators and was himself killed by police. In all these instances our safe schools programme has played a key role in providing support and follow up.
There have also been incidents of violence amongst learners in various schools in the first quarter, which culminated in the brutal killing of Marewaan Blankenberg. He was kicked and stabbed to death, allegedly by fellow pupils.
Gangsterism and the violent culture it nurtures, stems from socio-economic conditions such as low-income employment, unemployment, poor living conditions, poverty and deprivation that prevails among some sections of our communities. This leads to learners dropping out of school often culminating in disruptive and usually illegal and anti-social behaviour. I am acutely aware of the fact that many of our educators on the Cape Flats have to work under the constant fear of gangsters and criminal syndicates intimidating them, and this has a negative psychological impact on them and on our children.
There appears to be a perception that the department is not doing anything about the safety of our schools. This is not the case. Our Safe Schools Division deals with the multi-faceted challenges of crime and violence in our schools on a daily basis. They focus on prevention, intervention and response measures within schools and build sustainable partnerships with strong community links. Safe Schools is rooted in a systemic transformation process that has impacted on the entire education department.
Safe Schools has a three pronged strategy to create safe, effective and conducive learning environments in our schools. Firstly, as part of crime control, is securing the physical structure of schools through target hardening strategies, i.e. building security - fencing, alarms, mesh wire, razor wire, barbed wire and signs.
The second part of this strategy, are behavioural programmes as part of crime prevention. Through these programmes we aim to support, modify or influence, parent, educator and learner behaviour at school and the surrounding community through conflict management, trauma counselling, leadership development, promotion of a human rights culture, intervening with learners at risk, peer counselling, sport and cultural activities.
The third part of this strategy involves system-wide changes in the operation of the school. This involves organisational development, community relations, effective governance, curriculum innovation, and identifying and assisting learners at risk. In partnership with other government departments, NGO's, community organisations, Community Safety Forums, Multi-sectoral Action Teams and Community Policing Forums, constant and sustained awareness, prevention and support campaigns and programmes are in operation.
We also have a Safe Schools Call Centre, initiated to provide immediate, free online communication to learners, parents and teachers needing help, guidance or information. It serves as an information system to gather and analyse data throughout the province so as to devise a well-researched approach to a wide range of threats affecting the safety of our learners, educators and support staff. The Safe Schools Call Centre operates a toll free line 0800 45 46 47 from Monday to Friday from 07h30 to 17h00 in the three official languages of the province.
Our safe schools budget increases by R1 million to R13 million for the 2005/06 financial year. We have also now decided to make available additional resources to employ 25 learner support officers who will be deployed to work with clusters of schools in support of the programme.
Our Department will also present a detailed proposal and costing to the provincial cabinet within three weeks to employ up to 2000 school safety officers to ensure a constant presence at our schools most affected by violence. I have asked MEC Ramatlakane to ensure that all sector-policing strategies at local level include specific plans to ensure visible policing around our schools.
I am convening a series of consultative meetings with leaders of Learner Representative Councils in all education districts. My department has already held one such summit with the Central EMDC schools. With these summits we want to use the opportunity to talk to our learners on how best to promote respect, discipline, non-racialism and manage diversity.
The above initiatives are in addition to steps already in an advanced stage, which include the following:
I have also decided to commission a review of our safe schools programme to look at ways of strengthening the valuable work they are doing. To make our schools safe we need an integrated programme with community safety, social services, local government and our communities.
Honourable Members and Speaker, the total budget of R6.2 billion for the 2005/06 financial year, constitutes 30,4 percent of the overall budget of the Western Cape Government, which represents an increase of 10,05% over the adjustments budget, excluding the Capital Works budget. The overall budget split between Personnel and Non-Personnel expenditure, is 80% and 20% respectively. This, however, includes Capital works, Ikapa and the Conditional grants. If we exclude the latter, then the split is 85% Personnel and 15% Non-Personnel.
We have secured extra funds of R94m for the 2005/06 financial year for non-personnel expenditure. This is mainly made up as follows: Khanya Technology in Education Project – R10m; Learner Tracking – R7,5m; Norms and Standards growth in learner numbers – R10m; Learner transport – R11m; Finance & Quality Grants – R14m; and ECD – R14,3m, with the extra funds going towards increasing the number of Grade R learners.
We have secured funds for backlogs in salary adjustment of R78m for the coming financial year and as mentioned earlier, have secured extra funds for an increase in the basket of posts by 365 to deal with the growth in learner numbers to keep the Learner:Educator ratio to acceptable levels.
Our Capital Budget of R171m is for the building of schools and maintenance to existing infrastructure, and in addition, we have set aside R20m to address classroom backlogs especially in African communities.
The Primary School Nutrition Programme Grant has increased by 9,61%. We have managed to feed learners for 170 days instead of the national norm of 156 days in the school year. Ikapa funds have also increased from R23,5m to R125m in the current financial year. We are increasing the total loan amount to R20m for learners who wish to study at FET colleges, which represents a 100% increase over the previous year.
R39m will be used to install computer labs in high schools in preparation for the FET curriculum in 2006.R49m will be set aside for FET focus schools. We are also planning to increase our Maths and Science Focus schools (Dinaledi Schools) from 10 to 50.
Departmental Core Programmes and Highlights
Early Childhood Development and Grade R
Our legal mandate as an education department is to provide schooling for learners of compulsory school-going age, and to subsidise Grade R schooling for pre-Grade 1 learners.
We have decided however to work with our partners in health and social services to develop a co-ordinated approach to Early Childhood Development (ECD) focussing particularly on children aged 0 to 4. A task team of officials from all three departments will present a report to provincial cabinet social cluster before the end of April. This co-operation has already assisted in co-ordinating our activities.
The WCED cannot achieve our overall goals alone. We need to work with our social partners in all tiers of government and the non-governmental organisations, which have a long and proud history of delivery. We must strive for the provision of an integrated and co-ordinated approach to ensure the delivery of effective and efficient holistic services, and eliminate wasteful duplication of action and obviate the competition for scarce resources.
Poverty stricken parents are forced to leave their children in the care of adults who are unemployed or retired, and in some cases illiterate and are only capable of child minding activities rather than being able to provide stimulating developmental care.
If no adults are available the young child will be left in the care of family members or, as is often the case, an older sibling – usually a girl child who herself should be in school. We have to break this cycle.
The Education and Training of adults who care for young children is therefor of paramount importance. Expectant mothers together with their partners need to be fully aware of their roles and responsibilities as parents. Information and guidance on health issues as well as developmental phases of infants, their language development and general stimulation needs in the first instance to be provided by the anti natal and post natal Health Clinics. The Education Department will assist and provide guidance in the development of basic information and programmes, which will assist such parents.
This year we have issued special Grade R kits to 32 ECD sites to support Grade R teaching and learning. The project was one of four educational deliveries identified as part of the Premier’s Easter service delivery campaign. The kits include equipment and materials designed to enable learners to achieve the outcomes required by the Grade R curriculum. We are also training Grade R teachers on how to use the kits.
We need to continue to build public awareness for the need for ECD and enhance demand for access so that by 2010 every 5 year old in this province is in a quality pre-school, which provides them with the necessary pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills to make them ready to take full advantage of formal school.
The current R3 per capita subsidy will be increased on a sliding scale based on a poverty index up to R6 per day per child. This will empower poorer communities to employ and retain teachers who are more suitably qualified to facilitate the structured developmental care so necessary in the pre-school year.
As far as Grade R is concerned, we plan to ensure that every five-year-old in the province has access to quality Grade R teaching by 2010, in terms of our Human Capital Development Strategy. There are currently about 52,000 children in Grade R classes in the Western Cape. This means that we have to expand access to about 30,000 children over the next five years, at a rate of about 5,000 additional learners per annum. I am pleased to report that we reached this target in 2004 and 2005, and that we are on track for reaching our 2010 target.
General Education and Training (GET)
General Education and Training, or GET, which covers Grades R to 9, is a crucial learning phase, because it provides the foundation on which all future learning takes place. Key developments in GET over the past year included extensive teacher training on the revised national curriculum, which we are currently introducing in stages. We trained Foundation Phase teachers in 2003, so that we could introduce the revised curriculum for Grades R to 3 in 2004.
More than 7,780 Intermediate Phase teachers and 1,840 school managers attended about 150 training courses during the July school holidays last year, to prepare for the introduction of the Intermediate Phase Curriculum in 2005.
All concerned have responded well to this training so far, which reflects their overwhelming commitment to their professional development and the education of our children. We commend them for this. We are now preparing the ground for introducing the revised Curriculum for Grade 7 in 2006.
Other major developments in 2004 included testing all Grade 8 learners for the first time in the province, to inform career guidance for Grade 9 learners in 2005. We trained 620 teachers to use the PACE career guidance system to help learners choose appropriate study options.
Further Education and Training (FET)
The introduction of Further Education and Training forms part of the programme of curriculum transformation. The FET curriculum will be introduced on two levels namely in our current high schools and in FET colleges.
FET in Schools
The Western Cape is ready to introduce FET curriculum in schools starting with grade 10 in 2006. This will culminate in this cohort of learners writing the new FET certificate in 2008.
Our department has been preparing for this moment for the past three years, thanks to a comprehensive policy and materials development programme, and teacher training. We have aligned our implementation programme carefully with that of the National Department of Education.
We have implemented our plan in two phases. Phase one comprised three integrated projects involving advocacy, teacher training and research into training needs. We have now launched Phase Two, which involves a major training programme driven by national and provincial task teams working together during the course of 2005.
With the FET curriculum we intend providing renewed opportunities to our learners with vocational subject options. In terms of the National Curriculum Statement there will be four compulsory subjects i.e. Two official Languages, Mathematics/Maths Literacy and Life Orientation.
Learners will then have to choose a further 2 core subjects from 1 of the following 8 learning fields, Agricultural Sciences; Arts and Culture; Business, Commerce and Management Studies; Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology Studies; Human and Social Studies; Physical, Mathematical, Computer and Life Sciences; and Services. Learners will also have to take one elective subject from any of the 8 learning fields.
FET in Colleges
Special programmes to support the ongoing development of FET colleges are now well advanced, funded partly by special iKapa Elihlumayo grants. This includes a grant of R20-million, which will increase over the next three years, to finance loans to improve access to FET colleges by learners from poor backgrounds. We have now entered the second year of this programme.
Our colleges introduced a wide range of new courses in 2004, developed using iKapa Elihlumayo funding in 2003. The colleges developed about 60 new courses that are specifically designed to meeting the needs of the Western Cape economy. Our colleges have also signed agreements with Sector Education Training Authorities to support Learnership training programmes. As in schools, the learning fields and subject choices in colleges will be based largely on the Micro Economic Development Strategy.
Education for Learners with Special Needs (Elsen)
The WCED’s Directorate for Specialised Education Support Services manages a range of projects for learners who experience barriers to learning, from youth at risk to learners experiencing various physical and intellectual challenges, to the simple issue of hunger experienced in poor communities.
The inclusive system of education described in Education White Paper 6 aims to reduce and prevent learning and developmental barriers. The WCED inclusive education field-testing programme serves to increase the impact of the national field-testing. Each multifunctional district based support team at the EMDC's has identified two primary schools and at least two special schools to be converted to full service schools and special school or resource centres respectively.
The establishment of the institutional based support teams in each school formed part of the support structure to ensure quality education, appropriate support and an accessible curriculum through meeting learning and developmental needs of all learners in an equitable and flexible manner.
Adult Basic Education and Training
In January this year I received a letter from Mr Nellie from Villiersdorp thanking the WCED for the opportunity afforded to him to further his schooling via the ABET programme. And I want to read from his letter:
"I joined our local ABET centre in 1999 and completed my Matric Certificate at the end of 2000, despite the fact that I left school through Grade 8/Standard 6 in 1971. I started working at our local municipality as a Law Enforcement Officer/Traffic Warden in 1999. After I passed Matric I was sent to the Gene Louw Traffic College to qualify as a traffic officer.
"I recently received qualifications to be a testing Officer for Driving Licences, and I also qualified myself as an Examiner of Motor Vehicles. I obtained numerous diplomas and certificates after having completed my initial Traffic Officer training.
"… I would like to express my gratitude towards all the educators who went out of their way to educate us in the evenings at the ABET centre.
"Today I am able to hold my head up high and proclaim that this government really wants to provide a better life for all those who want to take hold of the opportunities created for everyone."
This letter by Mr Nellie emphases the importance of our ABET programmes and I have committed myself to attend to the extension and proper support to our ABET centres in the future.
Our ABET programme comprises subsidies to private centres, supporting specific private ABET sites through subsidies, professional services to support ABET sites, and human resource development to provide for the professional development of educators and non-educators at ABET sites. The number of ABET enrolments in our public centres last year was 31,329. Our target for this year was 32,499. However we have exceeded this target with an extra 969 candidates.
We are involved in numerous partnerships with other provincial departments. Through these partnerships, employees of provincial government departments are given the opportunity to obtain qualifications. This is part of a Transversal Policy developed for employees of government, and launched in December 2004. Partnerships are being formed at provincial and centre level.
There is agreement that more needs to be done towards ABET in the province. The provisioning of education to any citizen, irrespective of age, is important to the department. I firmly believe that it is only through availing the opportunity to learn that this provincial government will contribute in assisting people to better their living conditions. It remains one of our key weapons in the struggle against poverty.
We regard our teachers as our most valuable asset in the provisioning of education. I want to recognise the fact that some of them are working under extremely difficult conditions.
The morale of our teachers, their qualifications, experience and competence, are key indicators of the 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 greatly contribute to the quality of outcomes.
In addition to the work of our curriculum advisers, the WCED has introduced a range of services to support our teachers, principals and officials on employment and personal matters. Our new state-of-the-art Call Centre opened for business in April 2004, and complements our Client Services Walk-in Centre. The Call Centre receives about 18,500 calls a month, of which teachers account for about 65% of these calls.
While the Call and Walk-in Centres support our teachers and officials on technical employment and salary issues, we are aware that our employees can experience various personal problems from time to time that might need specialised counselling support. For this reason the WCED has launched a new, toll-free telephone counselling service in October 2004 for employees as a key component of our Employee Wellness Programme.
The service provides confidential expert counselling and advice in all three languages on a wide range of issues relating to mental, emotional, physical, financial and legal help. These issues include, amongst others, depression, relationships, alcoholism, drug abuse, stress, debt, gambling, family problems, bereavement and health problems such as HIV/AIDS.
During January and February this year, the counselling service received 204 calls; 17 (8.3%) of these calls were work-related, while the rest covered a wide spectrum of issues, from marital problems to substance abuse, financial problems and legal issues.
New projects include an online database of unemployed teachers, to make it easier for schools to look for contract, temporary and substitute staff, and for unemployed teachers to find work. We have also introduced an online system for tracking the status of new appointments, to make it easier for school managers to advise new staff on when they can expect their salaries to be paid, and whether all documentation has been submitted correctly.
These services complement our online vacancy lists. This service has proved to be extremely popular and has attracted significant interest beyond the borders of the Western Cape.
Mathematics and Science
Last week we awarded 82 bursaries to student teachers being trained to teach mathematics and science. This has increased the number of bursaries awarded to such student teachers significantly, from 61 in 2004 to 82 in 2005.The bursary scheme is one of a number of interventions designed to improve learner performance in maths and science in the Western Cape.
The WCED is engaged in various in-service training programmes. These include in-depth courses provided by our Cape Teaching Institute and support for teachers studying for Advanced Diplomas in Education. Numeracy and literacy are key focus areas in training on the revised national curriculum.
A shining example of our intervention strategy, is the Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) in Khayelitsha, which shows that good teaching and motivated learners can succeed in the poorest of communities. COSAT is one of only nine schools in the Western Cape in which all candidates studied maths for the Senior Certificate examinations in 2004. The school has achieved a 100% pass rate in the matric exams over the past three years. Our challenge of course is to steadily improve our performance in maths and science in all our secondary schools.
Other interventions include:
Technology in Education
Our National e-education white paper envisages that all our schools must transform into e-Schools and our learners be ICT capable by 2010. In terms of our Human Capital Development Strategy, our goal is to create an environment where every learner will have a series of resources and teachers in different discipline expertise and in different locations, with a teacher/mentor to help organize the information, and help the student pursue some areas in depth.
The power of technology should be used to enhance the quality of the learning experience in the classroom. This should assist in improving the learner outcomes in all grades in terms of the number of passes and quality of results. We are committed to ensure that all our high schools have access to computer labs by the end of this year.
I want to pay tribute to the work of WCED Khanya Team. We are all proud of the work they do. I am very thankful for the contribution of Multi-Choice, which have committed themselves to equip every disadvantaged school with a television set, VCR and satellite dish, which would give learners access to various educational programmes.
I also want to make use of this opportunity to thank our many partners who are also contributing to the provision of technological opportunities to historically disadvantaged communities. In particular I want to thank the Shuttleworth Foundation, MTN, Multi-Choice, Mtel, GTZ, MNET, Microsoft and many others.
The WCED is aware, like other government departments, that we cannot achieve our objectives alone. As a result the department is in the process of reviving the Western Cape Education Foundation, a section 21 company, to advance our Human Capital Development Strategy. It is important that the WCED is able to give guidance and ongoing support to all those wishing to make a contribution.
At this time, the Foundation is conducting an audit of all donor-funded projects in Western Cape Schools. Initial results are suggesting that an enormous amount of money is being pumped into schools and other education initiatives. A rough estimate of the investment is approximately R40 million over the last 3 years.
The Foundation is also promoting knowledge about private public partnerships through inter-governmental discussions. All these initiatives suggest that the Western Cape Education Foundation will become an important partner in realising our Human Capital Development Strategy. We are committed to employ dedicated support staff to ensure the sustainable operation of the Foundation.
I have tried to sketch some of the gains made by the department, outline some of the key challenges and give an indication as to how our budget will be spent in 2005/06.This budget obviously cannot meet all our needs but goes a long way to bringing stability to Western Cape Education.
A great deal of work lies ahead in terms in meeting the challenges head on and ensuring that we finalize and implement our Human Capital Strategy. I call on members of this house and every member of the department, our parents, teachers and learners and partners to join hands in making sure that we indeed build a learning home for all in the Western Cape.
I want to thank our department in particular for their efforts over the last year. To Mr Swartz our Head of Department a special word of thanks. To my staff in the ministry thank you for all your support, patience and understanding. Mr Archie Lewis who has been advising me on policy and other matters – thank you for your tireless efforts.
Finally I want to thank my wife Melanie and my daughters Aleya and Jenna for always being there for me.
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