Education: Minister's Budget Speech


15 May 2008



“Education changes lives, changes communities”

Madam Speaker, our theme this year is education changes lives and communities. Education properly delivered and effectively implemented does change lives and communities for the better. We have promised our people a better life. The road to that better life begins with education.

A total of R123 billion is allocated to the education sector (both national and provinces).

National Plan for Higher Education

One of the ways we have sought to give practical expression to this objective of a better life is to pursue greater access, transformation, and quality in the higher education system.

For the year 2008 the national Department of Education budget is R18.5 billion. R15.1 billion of this budget is transferred to higher-education institutions as block grants or earmarked funds (for NSFAS, foundation programmes, infrastructure, or efficiency allocations).

Honourable members are aware that in 2001 government adopted a new path for higher education change.

The National Plan for Higher Education made a number of important proposals that have become a key platform for fundamentally restructuring higher education in South Africa. The plan seeks to expand enrolment by setting a target of a 20% participation rate by 2015.

It proposed a shift in the balance of enrolments to a ratio of 40%: 30%: 30% in the humanities: business and commerce: science, engineering, and technology, respectively over the period 2001 to 2010.

It further proposed that the challenge of equity of outcomes should be addressed by matching the increased access of blacks and women with increased success in key disciplines as well as in post graduate programmes. The plan noted with concern the fact that African students made up the majority of drop outs and failing students.

Institutions were, therefore, directed to establish equity targets with an emphasis on areas in which black and women students are under - represented and to develop viable strategies for ensuring equity of outcomes; well in line with our belief that education should change lives.

Furthermore, it was proposed that the sector should be diverse and differentiated. And at its most radical and bold level the plan proposed the restructuring and configuration of the institutional landscape of higher education to create new institutional and organizational forms to address the racial fragmentation of the system as well as the administrative, human and financial capacity constraints.

This was to be achieved through institutional collaboration in specific programmes to achieve cost and efficiency gains and through “consolidating higher education provision through reducing, where appropriate, the number of institutions but not the number of delivery sites on a regional basis”.

Mergers and Restructuring

Madam Speaker, Honourable Members are aware of the history that has followed this important policy for advancing higher education transformation. One part of the history is the reduction of institutions to 23 universities and universities of technology that offer programmes on multiple sites across the country.

We have had six years of hard work in government efforts to give practical effect to the 2001 National Plan. It is now possible to assess our progress and the continuing challenges. Higher education is a very important sector in South Africa. It has within it the possibility of a significant contribution to our national development goals, and to the human capital expansion that South Africa must achieve in the next ten years.

A number of important and positive developments have resulted from the first phase of implementation of the National Plan. We are working closely with the sector to advance the gains.

The National Plan did not set concrete time-frames for achieving the very ambitious objectives outlined in the plan. Part of our challenge is that we have attempted to implement many of the diverse yet complementary and complex objectives almost all at the same time.

Nevertheless, Honourable Members, there are notable achievements.

Enrolment planning

First, we now have an agreed sector enrolment plan. It establishes the targets for achieving 17,5% participation rate by 2010. It also sets the targets for increased enrolments in science, engineering and technology. The enrolment plan will support the orderly growth of higher education while also ensuring there are sufficient resources to support increased student success and post graduate enrolment.

Madam Speaker, access for black students and women has grown significantly and the numbers in the SET fields grow each year. On the negative side we are concerned that the expanded access is not being complemented by increased success rates. Equity of outcomes has not been achieved as yet.

New growth at HDIs

Second, there has been success in the restructuring of institutions to create new multi-campus sites that will allow for the development of new academic initiatives and the renewal of several historically disadvantaged institutions.

This has involved the merging and incorporation of several institutions to create new institutions, new opportunities and enhanced development of higher education in South Africa.

I hope to initiate a review of progress with the initial phase of restructuring later this year.

There has been exciting progress. The University of Kwazulu Natal is a thriving multi-campus institution that houses key disciplines and just under 40,000 students on the various sites. The university has sought to give effect to the full meaning of equitable discipline spread and promotion of quality development in key scientific disciplines.

The university management has ensured that resource allocation develops the character of Durban Westville campus by placing it at the centre of science teaching and research. I was pleased to open a state of the art life sciences building early this year- the first of the many academic initiatives that the ‘new’ institution is pursuing.

Last night, the University of Fort Hare celebrated the installation of their new vice chancellor, Dr Mvuyo Tom. The university has been given a new lease of life. It now has a campus in East London and a refurbished and new-look Alice campus.

In 2007, R143 m was provided to Fort Hare for recapitalization and infrastructure investment. The university plans to add to its academic and student facilities in East London and a further R150 million has been made available for this.

For many of the new institutions, merger processes have been extremely challenging and time and resource intensive. One of the lessons we have learned is that you cannot change without planning intensively and without resources.

Further developments include the residence development at the University of Zululand and the recently inaugurated plan to build a business management campus in Richards Bay. Progress has also been recorded at UNISA, North West University, Tshwane University of Technology, Cape Peninsula University of Technology; and recently at Limpopo University.

We are paying close attention to signs that indicate that some of our wealthier institutions are not pursuing change as vigorously as we had anticipated. The task of managing the University of Limpopo merger and the Garankuwa Health Sciences campus is a task we are addressing with the university. Government remains committed to establishing a Health Sciences faculty in Polokwane, however careful consideration must be given to the future utilization of the Garankuwa site.

I am also pleased to inform Members that on 16 June I will be attending a sod-turning ceremony at the Soweto campus of the University of Johannesburg. A new lecture block, laboratories and residences will be developed from this year. Management Sciences and Teacher Education will be anchor programmes on this new campus.

Funds for infrastructure development have been provided to all our universities and the poorest have received substantial recapitalization funds.

Since 2004 higher education as a whole (including NSFAS) has received additional allocations of R8,420 billion.

Since 2004 higher education (excluding NSFAS) has received additional allocations of R6,294 billion.

Since 2004 NSFAS has received additional allocations of R2,126 billion.

Thousands of poor students have benefited from this funding. Sitting in the gallery today we have two whose lives were changed. Ms Babalwa Ndwandwa a university of technology graduate, who is a teacher of physics and Mathematics and Mr Sivuyile Ndamane, who completed his BEd, and is now teaching at Sophumelela High School, Philippi.

Madam Speaker, education is changing communities, it is changing lives.

New-blood academics

Many negative features continue to bedevil the sector. These range from racism, and other forms of discrimination, to our failure to prepare the next generation of academics for South Africa.

We are working closely with the Department of Science and Technology, and others, to do more to grow our own timber. Funding and effort has to be directed at supporting the retention and training of post-graduate candidates up to doctoral level. Seasoned researchers must be incentivised to supervise young researchers and prepare them for academic leadership.

As I indicated, equity of academic outcomes is a goal we have to pursue with vigour. We are funding academic development programmes and foundation programmes that are part of a degree programme. In addition, we are collaborating with HESA to act on the need to address academic throughput. We are investigating the viability of a four-year degree structure, and the funding of teaching excellence programmes for academics.


Student funding has been an important part of the transformation initiated in 1994. Starting small, the NSFAS fund has grown to R 1,5 billion in 2008 and graduates who have benefited from the scheme now make a considerable contribution to the fund in repayment.

I remain concerned at fee levels and continue to engage with universities to address this issue. Given the improvement in block grants universities should now be able to curb the growth in fee levels that we have witnessed recently.

Racism, discrimination and violence

One of the most shocking wake up calls for higher education occurred with the awful events at the University of Free State. The hatred and racism evident in the events we all witnessed must urge all of us to do more to promote non racism and respect for the dignity of all. We have urged the university leadership all to use the incident as a catalyst for addressing racism and other negative practices in our institutions.

This call applies equally to schools and colleges. The incidents of violence, of thuggery, substance abuse and bullying at some of our schools call for dedicated attention by all stakeholders to the values elaborated in our Constitution. Those values mandate a visibly altered learner, student and academic. Evidence of discrimination and exclusion is a call on all of us to do more to build that South Africa that Mr Mandela spoke of at his inauguration on May 10 fourteen years ago.

I have established a committee to investigate progress with transformation in higher education I trust all South Africans will assist this committee in its work. I repeat here my call to higher education to lead by example in creating a new ethos and attitude in institutions. Given the intellectual character of universities, they should be the first to eradicate the ignorance and irrationality that is illustrated by racist practices.

Education at all levels should produce a new person, should challenge old ideas and outdated practices. Our education sector must respond to the call to build new character, to create new opportunities.

Learner retention

I have been encouraged at the recent report of the committee on school retention. It indicated that South Africa has achieved universal access to primary schooling and near universal access to schooling up to the age of fifteen. I am, however, extremely concerned at the finding that there is a sharp drop in numbers after grade 9 and 10. If we are to change lives, we must keep young people in school longer and engage them more productively.

Technical schools

One of the ways in which we plan to do this is to revolutionise a sub- sector that we rarely refer to in our deliberations. I intend to begin a process of renewal, expansion, and modernization for the technical high schools of South Africa. There are over 100 of these institutions and I think a focused investment in them could lead to critical growth in the technical and artisanal skills that we need.

I have begun a review process and hope to lay the basis for the further development of these institutions. It is vital that we develop a broader view of education. One that goes beyond academic general schools to more focused well resourced schools for technical education. We will change the lives of our youth by creating new opportunities and by responding to their different abilities.

Second-chance learning

A key intervention, in line with our theme of changing lives and communities, was the implementation of a second-chance programme for learners who failed matric in 2007. The overwhelming learner response to the programme revealed a hungry thirst for education among children we tend to cast off as failures at grade 12. Over 400,000 full-time and part-time candidates are writing exams as we speak - a number very close to our total pool for 2007.

We also plan to do more to reshape adult education and training. Teachers in our adult learning centres play a vital role in changing lives through assisting adult learners. However, adult learners are demanding something more than matric- a qualification and subject mix that responds to adult interests and their specific training needs.

A green paper on adult education and training is currently in preparation.

Madam Speaker, education does change communities, it does change lives. We are developing a system that will ensure that change for a better life occurs.

Kha ri Gude

Last year I indicated the we were getting ready to tackle the challenge of the near 4.7million persons who have never been to school and the further 4.9 million who dropped out of school before grade 7.The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign was launched in February this year. Over 100 coordinators have been recruited and trained. Classes began in April, unemployed youth are being recruited and trained to work with world class teaching materials. Over 20 000 facilitators have been recruited and are teaching.

The response to the campaign has been overwhelming enthusiasm. Our communities know that education changes lives. Learner numbers have grown rapidly. Gauteng already has 32,000 learning, North West 42,000, Eastern Cape 100,000, and Limpopo 47,000. These are the provinces with the largest numbers of illiterate people, and they form the core of our target for this pilot year. All other provinces have reached their targets. Current enrolments suggest we have exceeded our target of 300 000 enrolled.

In addition to providing adults with the skills of reading, writing, and numeracy (up to ABET level 1), a successful campaign will also mean that South Africa will meet the commitment made at Dakar in 2002 to reduce illiteracy by at least 50%. Thus, we will be declared illiterate free in the context of UNESCO’s global strategy to eradicate illiteracy.

The mass literacy campaign has a strong community component. The campaign is mass based and relies on volunteerism and community participation. The community development workers have been a vital support to the campaign as have been traditional leaders, religious leaders and teacher unions.

The campaign has trained 60 deaf volunteer educators thus enabling the campaign to teach deaf learners in sign language. Braille materials for training blind volunteers have also been developed and classes with these will begin in June.

Madam Speaker, education is changing communities; it is changing lives.

Teacher education

Our resolve to ensure quality education opportunities depends on our ability to secure the services of qualified competent and committed teachers. The National Policy Framework for Teacher Education and Development, published in April 2007, aims to increase the supply and to train better teachers for the system.

To increase the number of teacher trainees, we introduced Fundza Lushaka bursaries. Their positive impact is already being felt in the system. In 2008 the scheme is being strengthened and R180 million will be disbursed through approximately 5,000 bursary awards to new and returning students in critical focus areas. I am pleased to inform the House that the first 800 beneficiaries of the bursaries were placed in schools at the beginning of this year.

During 2008 a key focus will be on a recruitment campaign to attract young people into foundation phase teaching, particularly students keen and able to teach in the various African languages.

Initial teacher education is only the beginning of a teacher’s career.

The policy framework introduced the Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) system to revitalise the teaching profession and to reward those who commit themselves to the goals and principles of quality, professionalism and service.

The DoE and SACE have established a joint task team to design and pilot a CPTD points system to encourage and support the continuing professional development of all teachers. During 2008 the team will produce a plan for the management and coordination of professional development activities that will be implemented from 2009.

We are supporting programmes for upgrading teacher qualifications and skills.

In 2008, the DoE is funding 1,600 teachers on Mathematics, Science and Technology ACE programmes, and a further 3,000 teachers on National Professional Diplomas in Education at various universities. Additional professional development programmes are planned to improve the ICT capabilities of teachers and to support the “foundations for learning” programme.

In addition, I have commissioned research to collect data on un- and under-qualified teachers in the system. The outcome of this will be the production of a five-year plan for a focused systemic approach to teacher upgrading to be implemented from 2009.

Expanding teacher training

One of our emerging challenges is the need to respond to the decline in the number of qualified school teachers. Specific gaps exist in the foundation phase and in scarce skills subjects such as Maths, Sciences and Technology.

Our first response was the introduction of nationally funded bursaries for students in these fields. We expect graduation numbers to grow each year. However, we now believe that these efforts need to be supported by a significant growth in numbers and by an expansion in the capacity of university faculties responsible for teacher training. All but one of our universities offer initial and in-service teacher training in faculties, colleges and schools of education.

We are considering various options in order to expand the numbers.

There have been calls for the re-opening of teacher training colleges. Given that many college sites became our new very vital FET colleges we need to devise innovative strategies for responding to more and better teacher training. I hope to return to the house later this year to set out the department’s proposal for expanded provision. We think it important to retain the higher education role in qualifying teachers. We also acknowledge the accuracy of the ANC’s call for urgent and focused attention on strategies for admitting increased numbers and for supporting them to be quality teachers for our schools.

Occupation specific dispensation

This year we concluded a historic agreement with teacher unions. It establishes the OSD for educators. The OSD creates a new salary structure for teachers and makes substantial improvements to educator remuneration. The agreement sets parameters for teacher performance, teacher rewards, and teacher evaluation. Learner performance will also be a factor in teacher evaluation.

The agreement also contains our resolve to end the employment of unqualified teachers. We have agreed to devise support mechanisms that will ensure that every teacher is qualified fully by 2013. I hope educators will respond to this call and take up the opportunity to become fully qualified educators.
National Education Evaluation and Development Unit

The department is working hard to implement our plan to create a national education evaluation and development agency - an inspectorate for South Africa. The first in 24 years. We plan to begin with a small cohort of evaluators this year and to prepare draft legislation to create an agency or institute that will be mandated to develop expertise in education evaluation and development.

I believe this Parliament should not rise before it passes such legislation as it is key to supporting our aim to achieve quality education for all our learners.

Social Cohesion

One of our key objectives is to ensure that our schools support South Africa as she strives to become a society united in its diversity. This is the rationale for the integration of academic content and values in our curricula. Schools can and should do much more. They shape learners attitudes, ambitions and interests. As with our universities, schools should address the diversity of their staff composition.

I have been surprised at the static homonegeity of staff profiles. In essence many schools perpetuate the apartheid staff design in the poor diversity in their staffrooms. Learners from all backgrounds and communities school together in schools that don’t wish to change exchange or diversify their staff. What coded message is sent by such enduring patterns of separate teaching communities? Schools must address this inadequacy and do more to ensure that the character of our new democracy exists in all our schools.

The pledge

The school pledge we proposed earlier this year is intended to promote these aspects of social cohesion, to highlight values and encourage their internalisation with the support of teachers and parents.

I thank the public for the enthusiastic engagement in the debate on school pledge. I hope to return to the House with a formulation that will accommodate the various public perspectives. I assure Honourable Members that we do not intend to create learner robots through a pledge. We hope to see the beginning of the emergence of young South Africans actively contributing to the creation of a new society, a revitalised nation.

Madam Speaker, education is changing lives; changing communities.


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