Basic Education: Minister's Budget Speech


22 Mar 2010



·        The number of Grade 12 learners who pass the national examinations and qualify to enter a Bachelor's programme at a university will increase from 105 000 to 175 000 

·        The number of Grade 12 learners who pass mathematics and physical science will be 225 000 and 165 000 respectively;

·        The percentage of learners in Grades 3, 6 and 9 in public schools who obtain the minimum acceptable mark in the national assessments for language and mathematics (or numeracy) will improve from between 27% and 38% to at least 60%.


In order to support the achievement of our targets for the education system, Basic Education has set out the following priorities:


·     By 2014, there will be universal access to Grade R for all age appropriate children;

·     Adequate learning and teaching materials will be developed and distributed particularly to those schools we have identified; and

·     Standardised national assessments of the quality of learning will take place in Grades 3, 6 and 9 on an annual basis.




 I have announced the development of a national Basic Education Action Plan. This long term plan for the basic education sector will be known as Schooling 2025: the Department of Basic Education’s Action Plan. This will allow for the monitoring of progress against a set of measurable indicators covering all aspects of basic education including amongst others, enrolments and retention of learners, teachers, infrastructure, school funding, learner well-being and school safety, mass literacy and educational quality.


This Basic Education Action Plan will co-ordinate and guide all interventions in the Basic Education system in order to turn the system around. The plan will establish key outcomes and performance deliverables for the entire education system, including the national and provincial departments. The plan will commit provinces and provincial education departments to clear, agreed to outcomes and to ensure that all in the system are accountable for attaining these outcomes.


Improving the Curriculum




We have acted on the main recommendations of the Report prepared by the Ministerial Committee established in 2009 that was tasked with reviewing the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement.

Curriculum reform is not something that the system takes lightly.  Change fatigue is something that we need to counter to restore the confidence and enthusiasm amongst all our stakeholders. At the same time we need to iron out the difficulties that do exist quickly and efficiently.


So we will not rush change and risk confusion and failure that we can ill-afford. We will proceed with due deliberation and decisiveness to effect the broad recommendations of the Ministerial Committee.


For this reason, I have and will continue to make changes on an ongoing basis where they can be made with minimal disruption in order to create relief and improve systems. But the longer-term change to the curriculum requires coherent action and it needs to be done properly. All stakeholders need to be kept properly informed at all times.


To provide short-term relief, we have reduced the number of projects for learners, and done away with the need for portfolio files of learner assessments and Continuous Tasks of Assessment for Grade 9 learners. Instead, the tests for Grades 3, 6 and 9 will be set nationally, administered by schools and externally moderated. The Department will make available exemplar question papers.


I have established three Committees to enable smooth implementation of curriculum streamlining. They are being led by three able people with the experience and qualifications to do so.


Recall that the Review Committee raised questions about the lack of clarity in the National Curriculum Statement. The first Committee’s task is to provide clear guidelines of what teachers ought to teach on a grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject basis. Its work is being conducted under the Chairpersonship of Dr Cassius Lubisi, who has long experience in the research, planning, development, management and implementation of curriculum. The time-frame for this Committee will be two years rather than the one year proposed by the Review Committee. This will enable it to consult widely and to test the statements with teachers.


Its work is supported by two other Committees, one to plan for implementation of the recommended reduction of learning areas in the Intermediate Phase from eight to six, and the other to consider recommendations on improving the distribution and use of Learning and Teaching Support materials in schools.


The Committee making recommendations on the reduction of learning areas in the Intermediate Phase is led by Professor John Volmink. This Committee is considering all possible implications of the intended changes, including time-tabling, human resource and legal implications, as well as models and time-lines for implementation. It will report by the end of April and its recommendations will inform the longer-term work on the curriculum.

A Ministerial Committee on LTSMs, headed by Mr Garry Rosenberg, will report mid-year. We expect recommendations on guidelines for a national catalogue of LTSMs with price guidelines. Their recommendations will take account of matters related to teacher choice, quality and cost effectiveness.


The curriculum challenge is a comprehensive one. It requires ongoing research and development. For this reason, we will continue to build capacity for curriculum research and review within the national department to ensure that we strengthen the implementation of the curriculum.


Effective communication of all these changes is critical. We have begun a curriculum newsletter and have distributed the first one to all teachers and officials in time for the beginning of the school year in 2010. Curriculum News will be produced once a term. Its purpose is to ensure that all teachers and officials are kept abreast of changes and what to expect in the future.


Budget allocations


As regards the allocations for the 2010/2011 financial year, I am delighted to record that the overall budget for the Department of Basic Education has increased by R2.23b to R6.166 billion.

Additional funds have been received for the following priorities with expected growth in the budgets over the MTEF:


·               NSNP Conditional Grant increases from 2009/10 to cater for implementation of school feeding in Quintile 2 secondary schools.

·               The supply of learners’ workbooks : R750 million  is allocated  reaching R1 billion in 2012/13

·               The National Education and Evaluation and Development Unit is allocated R11.031m for the 2010/2011 financial year.

·               Funza Lusaka bursaries increase to R424 million in 2010/11 and reach R471.9 million in 2012/13.

·               The recapitalization of technical high schools receives an allocation of R80 million building on the R5 million that was allocated in 2009/10 for planning for the recapitalization.

·               Kha Ri Gude allocations increase from R468 million in 2010/11 to  more than R520 million in 2012/13




The R750 million allocation for this financial year for workbooks will reach R1 billion in 2012/13. The allocation for workbooks is a significant contribution towards assisting us in meeting our challenges in providing support for the curriculum. This is a core responsibility on which we are taking decisive action.


We are implementing the Foundations for Learning Programme and distributed learning and teaching support materials and workbooks.

Learning and teaching packs for Grade R teachers have been distributed to all 13900 schools that offer Grade R. These packs include lesson plans for literacy, numeracy and life skills, learners' workbooks and resource books, as well as posters and story books.

We are also distributing Lesson Plans in Literacy and Numeracy for Grades 1-6 to teachers in the primary school.


National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU)


The National Education Policy Act (NEPA), 1996, Section 8(1) compels the Minister and the national department of education to monitor and report on the implementation of education policies as well as progress of the system. The additional funding will help us to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of our whole education system.


We have investigated the mandate, scope, name, location and modus operandi of the proposed structure and on this basis will shortly operationalise NEEDU and appoint staff appropriately qualified to head and direct its work.


NEEDU will be a professional facility dedicated to purposes of monitoring, evaluation and support. It will be a Unit that will evaluate school quality and present regular reports to the nation on such quality. Its role will be to assess and develop strategies for improving the quality of educational outcomes and supporting schools to achieve this. It will monitor and evaluate performance across the entire system. It will be there to ensure that learners learn and achieve, teachers teach and departmental officials properly support schools.


Systemic evaluation is a key responsibility of NEEDU.


Credible and up-to-date information on how our learners perform is valuable for a number of reasons. First, it helps identify systemic weaknesses that might impact on the quality of learning and teaching in our schools. Second, it enables tracking progress towards the measurable learning outcomes and targets that we have set for ourselves. And third, it holds the system accountable to the citizens of South Africa.


As mentioned above, R10m is available for the 2010/2011financial year for the Grades 3, 6 and 9 assessments. An additional R18 million will be allocated over the MTEF period.


We have decided that performance at grades 3, 6 and 9 will be improved from the current average performance from between 27% and 38% to at least 60% by 2014 and that the results of these assessments will go to parents.


From 2010, independently moderated annual assessments will be administered in grades 3, 6 and 9 and the results will be reported to parents. In addition, the results will inform many of the decisions that the Department must take regarding tracking and improving the quality of learning and teaching in the system. By 2014 the average performance in these independently moderated assessments must be no less than 60%.


Approximately 3 million of the learner population in basic education are in these grades. The external assessments will focus on the critical foundational skills of literacy and numeracy that we know are fundamental to all learning. The assessments will be conducted in November so that the results are available at the beginning of the following school year to inform teaching and teacher support programmes. All plans and activities will be aligned to address real issues that arise out of the findings of the assessments.


Provision of relevant learning and teaching support materials will be linked to the assessment processes to ensure that teaching and learning do not only benefit from the assessments but also inform what and how assessments should be structured.


Teachers and human resource development


The Funza Lusaka bursaries allocation has increased from R424 million in 2010/11 and reaches R471.9 million in 2012/13. This is a lynch-pin of our efforts to improve the quality of beginner teachers in scarce and critical subjects such as mathematics and science.




We acknowledge that our teachers and principals are key to a quality education system. We recognise that there is a need for coherence and synergy across the system. We recognise that there are many role-players that have a stake in the development of teachers and school leaders, not least of all the educators themselves who have a key role to play in their own development.


However the key responsibility for ensuring that teachers are supported to deliver the national curriculum lies with the Department of Basic Education. Therefore all policies and planning relating to the development of teachers and managers for the schooling system must be co-ordinated at national level, in partnership with provincial departments, to ensure that these meet their needs.


While provinces have a responsibility to implement and have the funds to do so, the national department has the responsibility to develop policy, plan for and monitor and evaluate provincial delivery. 

To address supply-side challenges, the DBE will, through the development of the Human Resources Management Information System (HRMIS), provide credible data on the supply, demand and utilisation of educators in the system to inform planning. Teachers are our most important human resource in education. But it is not enough simply to supply more teachers. We need to ensure that they are properly distributed across the system and that we have the right teacher, with the right qualifications and skills, in the right school, at the right time.


For this, we are developing a common plan throughout the sector and find the best way to compel schools to use teachers according to their strengths, specialisations and qualifications without jeopardising schools’ already precarious human resource imbalances.


This year we shall also introduce a new distribution model of posts to schools. We will use this pro poor model as a planning tool to determine actual utilization and future demand for teachers with regard to subjects/phases. This model will be adjusted to address changes in the curriculum.


A key deliverable in June 2010 will be the action plans emanating from the multi-stakeholder working groups established after the National Teacher Development Summit held in June 2009. Their task is completion of a detailed national teacher development action plan including activities, timelines, responsibilities and outputs for the next five years nested in a longer term plan to ensure a sustainable teacher development system. Together, we will move forward to improve teacher subject and pedagogical knowledge to realise the rights of all learners to quality education.


For the period 2010/11 – 2014/15, we are targeting at least 8000 principals and deputy principals to complete the Advanced Certificate in Education: School Leadership and Management (ACE). In addition, all school leaders from underperforming secondary schools and their feeder primary schools will complete specific stand alone ACE modules.


We will strengthen subject advisor’s knowledge of the school curriculum and their skills for supporting teachers to implement the curriculum more effectively through specific programmes – this is a currently budgeted activity undertaken through the curriculum support directorates. The training of ECD and Foundation Phase practitioners will occur amongst others, through FET colleges.






We will not live up to our claim that every child is a national asset if we do not concentrate our efforts on tackling our immense infrastructural challenges.  The backlog is estimated at R140 billion. In spite of considerable progress, current rate of financial allocations means that we can anticipate eliminating our infrastructure “conditions” and “space” backlogs in 20 years’ time.


Consequently finding innovative funding and infrastructure delivery mechanisms to deal with all the backlogs in the shortest possible time is now paramount in our endeavours.


In order to address these to accelerate our infrastructure improvement programme by explicitly drawing on the construction capacity and momentum created to complete the stadia for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. The Department of Basic Education is working with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and Treasury regarding appropriate financing models and capacity for this accelerated school infrastructure improvement programme.


In 2000/01 provincial education departments spent a mere R553 million on payment for capital assets. Currently the budget for infrastructure is at R5.5 billion and will continue to increase over the medium term and reaches R9.4 billion in 2012/13.


Schooling 2025, which is currently under development, will make provision for short to medium term initiatives to source alternative resources for school infrastructure development. These resources will be aimed at eliminating the backlog of those schools that fail to meet the basic functionality levels of provision. Whilst addressing this backlog the proposed initiative will also strive to upgrade these schools to optimum functionality.


It is envisaged that this short- to medium-term initiative will be mobilized through the appropriate channels and constitute a provincial- and district-based programme to tie in the existing educational administrative structures and systems in the nine provinces.




We have an enormous responsibility to ensure that our funds are well-spent, on the purposes for which they are intended, and that we see results. Our democratic mandate is to deliver on the right to education, and this means the right to be literate and numerate when leaving school. We are fully-focused on delivering on this mandate.




Let me end by paying tribute to all the Members of the Executive Council responsible for education who have assisted in defining this agenda, and to Deputy Minister Surty for his strong and capable support ant all times. My thanks go also to the Acting Director-General and his senior officials who have the responsibility of ensuring that this agenda is efficiently implemented. A special tribute goes to the outgoing Director- General: Education, Mr Duncan Hindle for his loyal service to South African education.


Thank you.



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