Hansard: Education: Debate on Vote No 13

House: National Assembly

Date of Meeting: 15 May 2008

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Minutes

NREVISED HANSARD

EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249

Thursday, 15 May 2008

THURSDAY, 15 MAY 2008

PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY – E249

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Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 14:03.

The Deputy Speaker as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION

END OF TAKE

Start of day

APPROPRIATION BILL

Debate on Vote No 13 – Education:

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Deputy Speaker, I don't know whether the microphones are working I don't see any lights here. But I hope they are.

Madam Speaker, it's always a guessing game when we having EPCs as to whether Madam Speaker will be in the Chair, Deputy Speaker or Chairpersons. So you will forgive from time to time when I get lost in the course of my debate and I refer to Madam Speaker, it is just the anticipatory underground intelligence.

I would like to begin my debate, Madam Speaker, by thanking my colleague, the Deputy Minister, for the excellent way in which we worked together again this year for the fourth year running, the director-general who heads the officials in our department, our deputy director-generals, the officials who work in my Ministry, my advisors, Nasima Badsha and Martin Mulcahy; my friends, my children over there, the Chairperson and members of the Education Portfolio Committee. Also those who serve on boards and agencies that are part of the education structure, those in research institutions who support the work of the Education department, professors and academics who have been so supportive of the research work that we needed to do from time to time, leaders in business who have been party to our work, and all who have supported the education enterprise.

My very special thanks must go to a specific mention to the Chief Financial Officer in my department, the Deputy Director-General, Mr Benade, for our winning the three awards of the Association of Government Auditors for the Best Performing Government Department in three categories of audit over three years running.

Madam Deputy Speaker, our theme this year is: Education changes, lives education changes communities. Education properly delivered and effectively implemented does change lives and communities for the better. We have promised, as the ANC, our people a better life. The road to that better life begins with education. In this financial year a total of R123 billion is allocated to the education sector as whole - a massive investment by our country in education.

One of the ways in which 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. Of this budget, R15,1 billion is transferred to higher education institutions as block grants or earmarked funds - funds for the National Students Financial Aid Scheme, for foundation programmes, for infrastructure as well as for efficiency allocations.

Honourable members you are all well 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 20% participation 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. This was to occur in the period 2001 to 2010.

The plan 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 postgraduate programmes. The plan noted with concern the fact that African students, who make up the majority of students in the system, make up the majority of drop-outs and failing students.

Institutions were, therefore, directed to establish equity targets with an emphasis on areas in which blacks and women would be admitted in greater numbers and to develop as institutions, viable strategies for ensuring equity of outcomes well in line with our belief that education must 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 organisational forms to address the racial fragmentation of the system as well as the administrative, human and financial capacity constraints.

This, Madam Deputy Speaker, was achieved and 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".

Deputy Speaker, hon members are fully 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 this 2001 plan. It is now possible, I believe, to asses 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 plan. We are working closely with all institutions to advance the gains.

One of our challenges has been that the plan did not set concrete timeframes for achieving the very ambitious targets that it outlined. We have had therefore to implement many of the diverse yet complementary but complex objectives all at the same time. And I think this has been somewhat part of our error.

Nevertheless, hon members, there are notable achievements.

Firstly, we now have an agreed sector enrolment plan. It establishes the targets for achieving a 17,6% participation rate for South Africa by 2010. It also sets the targets for increased enrolments in science, engineering and technology. The plan will support orderly growth of the higher education sector while also ensuring there are sufficient resources to support increased student success and postgraduate enrolment.

Now contrary to popular beliefs, access for black students and women has grown significantly in South Africa with the advent of democracy and the numbers in the science, engineering and technology fields grow each year. On the negative side we are concerned as I have said that this expanded access is not complemented by increased success rates. Equity of outcomes has not been achieved as yet.

Second aspect, we have seen success in the restructuring of institutions to create new multicampus sites that will allow for the development of new academic initiatives and allow the renewal of several historically disadvantaged institutions.

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

I hope, this year, to initiate a full review of our progress with this initial phase of restructuring.

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

The university management has ensured that resource allocation develops the character of the 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 at the university 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 by the plan. It now has a campus in East London and a refurbished and new-look Alice campus.

In 2007, R143 million was provided to Fort Hare for recapitalisation 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 sufficient 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, at North West University, Tshwane University of Technology, the University of the Western Cape, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology; and more recently at Limpopo University.

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

I am very pleased to inform members that on 16 June, Youth Day, 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 site.

Funds for infrastructure development have been provided happily to all our universities and the poorest have received substantial recapitalisation funds. We should see an end to the financial mismanagement and inadequacy that we had in many of our universities for several years.

Since 2004, hon members, higher education as a whole, has received additional allocations of R8,4 billion. Since 2004 higher education, on its own, without NSFAS funding, has received additional allocations of R6,2 billion.

Since 2004 the National Students Financial Aid Scheme 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 have been changed by education. Ms Babalwa Ndwandwa, a university of technology graduate, who is today, a teacher of Physics and Mathematics; and Mr Sivuyile Ndamane, who completed his Bachelor of Education degree, and is now teaching at Sophumelela High School, in Phillipi.

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

Many negative features, however, 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. If you look around you, at the academics who are teaching your children, you will know that they are getting older and older and that we need to produce younger and more academics. 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 postgraduate candidates up to doctoral level. Seasoned researchers must be incentivised to supervise young researchers and prepare them for academic leadership.

However, we must address directly the equity of academic outcomes as a goal that South Africa must succeed in addressing. We are funding academic development programmes and foundation programmes that are part of our degree structure at many of these universities. In addition, we are collaborating with Hesa to act on the need to address academic throughput. We are investigating with them the viability of a four-year degree structure for South Africa and the funding of teaching excellence programmes for academics.

Student funding has been an important part of the transformation initiated in 1994. Starting very small then, the NSFAS fund has grown to R1,5 billion today and young people who have graduated make a considerable contribution to the fund in repayment. In fact, the Deputy President herself was telling me of the young person in her house who is repaying her loan from the NSFAS fund. I hope the Deputy President will remember that she has promised to assist that young lady to pay back even faster. [Laughter.} I will make sure that the Deputy President meets that promise.

I am, of course, still very concerned regarding the fee levels at many of our universities and I continue to engage with them to address this issue. Given the improvement in block grants, I think universities should now be able to curb the growth in fee levels that we have witnessed recently.

One of those shocking wake-up calls for us in higher education occurred with the awful events at the University of the Free State. The hatred and racism evident in the events we all witnessed must urge all of us to do more to promote nonracism and respect for the dignity of all. We have urged the university leadership to use the incident as a catalyst for addressing racism and other negative practises in all our institutions. This call applies equally to our schools and colleges. The incidents of violence, of thuggery, substance abuse and bullying at some of our schools and colleges call for dedicated attention by all stakeholders to the values elaborated in our Constitution. These 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 which Mr Mandela spoke of at his inauguration on May 10 – which is just a few days ago – 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.

Madam Speaker, we have to address the issues of access many, many times when we debate and discuss matters with our friends in the international community. I have been very encouraged by the recent report of the ministerial committee on learner retention. It indicates that South Africa has achieved universal access to primary schooling and near universal access to schooling up to the age of 15. I am, however, extremely concerned at the finding that there is a sharp drop in numbers after Grades 9 and 10 in South Africa. If we are to change lives, we must keep young people in school longer and engage them more productively.

One of the ways in which we plan to do this is by revolutionising a subsector that we rarely refer to in our deliberations. I intend to begin a process of renewal, expansion and modernisation for the technical high schools of South Africa. There are over 100 of these institutions and I think a focused rehabilitation and investment in them could lead to critical growth in the technical and artisanal skills that South Africa requires so desperately. [Applause.] I have already initiated a review process and hope to lay the basis for the further development of these institutions by the next Minister of Education. It is vital that we develop a broader view of education; one that goes beyond academic general schools to more focused and resourced schools for technical education. We will change the lives of our youth through creating new opportunities and through responding to their different abilities.

A key intervention, in line with our theme of changing lives and communities, was the implementation this year of a second-chance programme for learners who failed Matric in 2007. The overwhelming learner response to the programme revealed a hidden hungry thirst for education among children whom we tend to cast off as failures after Grade 12. Over 400 000 full and part-time candidates are writing exams today, as we speak – a number very close to the total we had for the formal exams in November 2007. It is frightening that, if we had not initiated that programme, these 400 000 would be lost with no opportunity. We therefore plan to do more to reshape particularly adult education and training. Teachers in our adult learning centres must be complimented on the vital role they play in changing lives through assisting adult learners. However, adult learners are saying to us that they want something more than a Matric qualification. They want a qualification and subject mix that responds to adult interests and their specific training needs. We are preparing a green paper on adult education and training in South Africa, beyond the basic we speak of today. I hope it will allow for vigorous engagement on future models. Education does change communities; it does change lives. We are seeking to develop a system that will ensure that change for a better life does occur.

Last year, members will recall, I indicated that we were getting ready to tackle the challenge of the near 4,7 million 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 learners today. The response to the campaign has been one of overwhelming enthusiasm. Our communities know that education changes lives. Learner numbers have grown rapidly since the beginning of April; in Gauteng 32 000 are already learning, in North West 42 000, in the Eastern Cape 100 000 and in Limpopo 47 000 are in classes each week. 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 indicate that we have exceeded our target of 300 000 for this year.

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 achieve being declared an illiteracy-free country in the context of Unesco's global strategy to eradicate illiteracy.

The mass literacy campaign has a strong community component. It is mass based and relies on volunteerism and community participation. The community development workers have been a vital support to the campaign, as have our traditional leaders, religious leaders and the 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 students who have applied will begin from June.

Madam Deputy Speaker, education is changing communities; it is changing lives. Our resolve to ensure quality education opportunities depends on our ability to secure the services of qualified competent and committed teachers. We published our framework for teacher development in April 2007, which aims to increase the supply and improve the quality of teachers for the system. We have introduced Fundza Lushaka bursaries and 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 you that the first 800 beneficiaries of the bursaries were placed in schools throughout the country 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, especially students who are keen and able to teach in the various African languages.

Initial teacher education is only the beginning of a teacher's career. Thus teacher development has to be provided for. We are working on a plan to revitalise the teaching profession and to reward those who commit themselves to the goals and principles of quality, professionalism and service. We have established a joint task team with the SA Council for Educators, Sace, to design and pilot a continuing professional development points system to encourage and support the development of all teachers. During this year the team will produce a plan for implementation from January 2009. We are also supporting programmes for the upgrading of teacher qualifications and skills. In 2008 we will be funding 1 600 teachers to study mathematics, science and technology programmes, and a further 3 000 teachers to complete the National Professional Diploma in Education. Additional professional development programmes are planned to enhance the ICT capability of teachers and to support the Foundations for Learning programme. I have also commissioned research to collect data on un- and underqualified teachers in the system. The outcome of this audit will be the production of a five-year plan for a focused systemic approach to teacher upgrading to be implemented in the period 2009 to 2013. After 2013 we should no longer have unqualified teachers in the system of education here in South Africa. [Applause.]

Specific gaps exist in the teaching of maths, science and technology. We will be addressing these. We believe that we must also have significant growth in the number of young people entering teacher training, and therefore it is our resolve to expand the capacity of university faculties responsible for teacher training. All but one of our country's 23 universities offer initial and in-service training in faculties, in ex-colleges of education and in established schools of education. We are considering a range of options in seeking to expand the number of trainees.

Calls have been made for the re-opening of teacher training colleges. Given that many colleges' sites became our new and very vital FET colleges, we need to devise innovative strategies so as to respond to the call for more and better teacher training. I hope to return to the House later this year to set out our proposals for expanded provision. We think it is important, however, 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 in becoming quality teachers for our schools.

This year, in line with our commitment to better and more teaching, we concluded a historic agreement with teacher unions. It establishes the occupation-specific dispensation for educators, 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. For the first time in our history learner performance will be a part of teacher evaluation. This agreement also contains our resolve to end the employment of unqualified teachers. We have agreed that we, as government, will support the qualification in full of all teachers by 2013. I hope that teachers will respond to this call and take up the opportunity to become qualified teachers.

We are also working hard to implement our plan to create a national education evaluation and development agency - an inspectorate in education for South Africa.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon Minister, we have allowed five more minutes. Your five minutes have now ended.

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Yes, I thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. You are allowing me to finish? I may need more time at the end, because of my friend in the DA. [Laughter.] No seriously, I will make good use of it. [Laughter.]

The establishment of an inspectorate is a task that is vitally important. It will be the first time in 24 years that South Africa has inspections for schools. We plan to begin with a small cohort of evaluators this year, and to prepare draught legislation to create an agency or institute that will be mandated to develop expertise in education evaluation and development. I think this Parliament should not rise before it has passed such legislation, as it is key to supporting our aim of achieving quality education for all our learners.

I conclude on the matter of 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 regarding social cohesion. They shape learners' attitudes, learners' ambitions and learners' interests. As with our universities, schools should address the diversity of their staff composition. I have been surprised at the static homogeneity of staff profiles in our schools. Many schools perpetuate the apartheid staff design in the poor diversity of their staff rooms. 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? We have to address this inadequacy . . .

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon Minister! Your time has finally expired.

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank you.

Prof S M MAYATULA

END OF TAKE

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION

Prof S M MAYATULA: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon members, so much has been said about the Bill of Rights which we are all enjoying in our country that many people do not realize that every right goes with responsibilities. As part of promoting national identity and social cohesion, I would like to draw the attention of this House to the importance of the Bill of Responsibilities as proposed by the ANC.

I would like to refer in particular to the following clause: My responsibility in ensuring the right to education. This right expects me and the learner to attend school regularly, to learn and to work hard. Secondly, to co-operate respectfully with teachers and fellow learners and to adhere to the rules and the code of conduct of the school and concurrently places on my parents and caregivers the responsibility to ensure that I attend school and receive their support, and places on my teachers the responsibility to promote and reflect the culture of learning and teaching in giving effect to this right.

My theme for this debate is "Back to Basics - the Culture of Learning and Teaching". I derive this theme from the January 8 Statement which says:

Education must be elevated from being a departmental issue, to a societal issue – one that occupies the attention and energy of all our people.

It goes on to say:

Our teachers must commit to a set of nonnegotiables – to be in school, in class, on time, teaching, no abuse of learners and no neglect of duty.

Despite the good policies and programmes that the department has put in place in the last 14 years, to which I am going to refer below and my colleagues, the greatest tragedy is the poor quality of our education system. Our learners always rank at the bottom when compared with other countries. To make things worse, we are outperformed even by countries as poor as Mozambique with fewer resources and very high teacher-pupil ratios. Surely, we cannot blame resources for our poor performance.

I want to argue that the most important step towards achieving quality education is the professional ethics of our teachers. To this end, I would like to quote the second clause of the Code of Professional Ethics of the South African Council for Educators - SACE. It states:

The educators who are registered or provisionally registered with the South African Council for Educators - I would dare to say any teacher for that matter should acknowledge the noble calling of their profession to educate and train the learners of our country; acknowledge that the attitude, dedication, self-discipline, ideals, training and conduct of the teaching profession determine the quality of education in this country;

acknowledge, uphold and promote basic human rights, as embodied in the Constitution of South Africa; commit themselves therefore to do all within their power, in the exercising of their professional duties, to act in accordance with the ideals of their profession, and act in a proper and becoming way such that their behaviour does not bring the teaching profession into disrepute.

This should not be misunderstood to mean that teachers are solely responsible for our education, hence the January 8 Statement referred to above. This is also well explained in the ANC national campaign on making education a national priority under the theme, "Mobilising Communities to ensure Quality Education for All". In this campaign the role of the following stakeholders is well explained: The departmental officials at the local level, teachers

learners and the communities.

Of all the above stakeholders, I firmly believe that the teachers are the engine. The school can have all the resources it needs and all the necessary support from other stakeholders, but if the teachers are not playing their role, the education system is doomed.

Allow me to say a few experiences from my constituency in this year. On Friday 25 April, this year, as I was visiting one of the Villages, I noticed that in the local junior secondary school that there was no schooling going on as the learners were roaming all over the place. I visited the school and met the principal. She confirmed that indeed there was no schooling as they were preparing to go to a music competition in town. She informed me that the school had 14 teachers and all of them would be accompanying the children to the competition.

On the same Friday, at about 14:00, as I left my constituency for home, which is approximately 150 km away, I gave a lift to three ladies who happened to be teachers, beginning their weekend migrations home. Fortunately for me, due to my new outlook, they did not recognize me [Laughter.] One was reporting how she left her school at 09:00. The others also indicated that they left their schools around 10:00 and that is standing at the hiking spot for a long time. One went so far as to indicate how appreciative the parents are when the teachers do not leave school before 12:00 on Fridays.

These are not isolated incidents and cannot be regarded as professional behaviour, and they are the core of the poor quality of our education.

How is education funded? Could this easily go? According to the South African Institute of Race Relations - Fast Facts March 2008, in this financial year the government has budgeted R120,5 billion for education which is 5,3% as a proportion of GNP, which by any standard is relatively high.

The following are some of the 20 resolutions taken by the ANC in its national conference in Polokwane to take our education forward - the ANC to focus rigorously on the quality of education; to establish a national education evaluation and development unit for purposes of monitoring, evaluation and support. Let us remember, school inspection was last conducted in our country in 1983. As a result, nobody knows what is happening inside the classroom.

We must progressively expand the school nutrition programme to include high school learners in poor communities. The no-fee schools to be expanded to 60% by 2009. I am not again in this front caution because it goes to more rural areas, department schools classified as poor as grant incapability and the schools fees is only R50 a year. But those schools are categorised as three times three and they don't benefit. This is a call to provincial ministers because they had the power to reclassify those schools. I won't go through all this list from the Kuruman but all I can say is that I am happy to report that all those resolutions are budgeted for.

Over and above these, the ANC-led government is already rolling out the following programmes: The Quality Improvement and Development Programme – the QIDS-UP whose aim is to resource some identified poor schools and different scholar transport; the Dinaledi Schools specializing in mathematics and science which have increase from 102 in 2004-05 to 488 in 2007-08 this year and will be increased to 500 in next year; the Mass Literacy Campaign which is Deputy Minister's referred school and the NSFAS which is covering four categories; students in general, teachers, social workers in FET colleges and people ask how do I apply? How do I get the fund? The answer to that is that all you have to do is to decide as a learner what do I want to study, where do I want to study? Go there to that institution, you will find the money there. If in whatever reason it happens in time that you do not get that money, call me or call the Minister or elsewhere there funds are there.

The occupation specific dispensation has a very calling effect as this is a performance based. The following are some of the challenges facing again the education in child-grant; the extremely poor quality, particularly for the majority of our schools. As we have that poor quality, I want again to acknowledge that in our rural areas we do have genius. The schools that appeared too good performed. Some of the best schools producing good results in Mathematics Higher Grade in Grade 12 come from the rural Limpopo province, which determined that we should not hide behind rurally, it has nothing to do with resources, it has to do with the attitude we have in the community.

According to education policies and regulations, learners in the junior and senior secondary schools should have one hundred and ninety six days of tuition per year at seven hours a day including breaks. The question is: Is this happening in all our schools? Judging from the constituency cases referred to above, the answer is a big NO. Research tells us that only 27% of the time is used productively in our schools.

I want to go back to these recommendations that I have referred you above. If we could take that scope of professional conduct, which is coming from SACE that among others it states that teachers should commit themselves therefore to do all within their power, in the exercising of their professional duties, to act in accordance with the ideals of their profession. Allow me to quote the January 8 Statement which says:

Our teachers must commit to a set of nonnegotiables – to be in school, in class, on time and teaching.

As a teacher you do not any pressure. People put trust on you. They are full out there. They teach on Saturdays and Sundays. They have honour. They do not want anything for that but teaching is a call. This is what they do. [Applause.] They must lead and their concern must not be incited by the salary. The ANC supports the Budget Vote.

Thank you. [Applause.]

Mr G G BOINAMO

END OF TAKE

Prof S M MAYATULA

Mr G G BOINAMO: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Over the past few years we have seen ambitious reforms to the education system, an entirely new curriculum and billions of rands pumped into the building and rebuilding of schools. These initiatives have made conditions better for millions of learners. Teachers and learners who previously studied under trees and in dilapidated and mud huts now learn in modern classrooms and have access to information technology, books and resources that they could not have dreamt of under apartheid. The DA welcomes these substantial improvements to teaching conditions in many parts of our country.

But in all of this reform a blind eye has turned to one critical requirement of a quality education, in fact the requirement on which the entire success or failure of the education system hangs. I refer here to the pursuit of excellence.

I want to say here that South Africa has many excellent schools and many schools where teachers, parents, learners and principals have triumphed over disadvantage to become centres of excellence, where the individuals concerned have not allowed the obstacles in their way to hold them back, but have rather looked for the creative way around; but there are far too few of these.

Fourteen years after liberation from apartheid our schools should by now have been transformed into forces of change and opportunity; instead, they are, for the most part, scenes of neglect, lethargy and often violence. In many of them, mediocrity has become the accepted norm.

A situation has developed in South African education system where the needs and interests of the true professionals amongst the teaching body have become swept away by the demands of job-sitters. This is at the core of our nonfunctioning education system and it needs to be confronted and resolved before our children can look forward to better educational prospects.

Whereas the professional corps has a genuine commitment to teaching well and doing the best that they can for their learners, the job-sitters tend to be driven by their own self interest. So, we need to ask: How has this situation arisen? It is largely, in my view, comes down to situation where some teachers' unions are undermining the interests of the true professionals with an agenda that has little to do with improving the quality of education and everything to do with personal self enrichment. At the same time we have a government which is far too willing to put political considerations ahead of educational wants and placate this interest to the disadvantage of the education system as a whole.

It is necessary to say here that the DA believes that much more must be done to improve educators' conditions of service. Good teachers need to be paid better and accorded the respect that their important job in moulding the minds of new generation of South Africans deserves, but we do not need teachers who receive substantial salaries for doing no work.

Over the last three years, 52 schools have achieved a pass rate of less than 5%. There can be no excuse for this dismal performance anymore, but not a single one of the principals of these schools has been fired. Some have simply been moved on to other schools where they can continue to spread the message of the acceptability of neglecting our children.

South Africa's worst-performing schools cover only 40% to 50% of the curriculum in any given year, largely because teachers do not spend time in the classroom. It has been reported to me that officials are stopping schools from giving learners zero marks if work has not been submitted, and schools are instructed to push failed learners through to the next grade.

A disgruntled teacher recently wrote to the newspaper that:

I supervise the homework completion of a private school pupil who attends one of the top schools in Johannesburg. This pupil is required to complete at least three English set works of different genres each term. Government schools complete only two a year. This is embarrassing.

It is therefore not hard to understand why she continued by saying that:

I have no faith in the government and its education department. If private schools are not the answer, then it will be home schooling for my children.

I would not like to suggest that solving the problems created by decades of legalised racial discrimination is easy. No government in the world would have had an easy time tackling the problems that our country faces, but we need a nation to take cognisance of the fact that there is a deep decay within the fabric of the education system, which limits its ability to grow into the modern proactive resource that business and modern society needs, and that we need to act urgently to stop this decay.

Both parents and politicians have an important job to do. Where children succeed at school, it is almost invariably because their parents are behind them, motivating them and instilling in them the importance of education. Parents need to be closely involved in their children's education so that they can know when there are problems with the schooling their children receives, and they can then refuse to allow government officials to continue pretending that these problems do not exist.

At the same time, government needs to take responsibility for implementing some fundamental changes. After years of poor management, low expectations have been so entrenched that they have become widely acceptable. We have also lost many of the educators and administrators with ability, ambition, commitment and dedication and those remaining are often too demoralised to struggle to make a difference. We must turn this tide!

Let there be a rigorously applied system of consequences for nonperformance and rewards for excellence for teachers. We need to value and nurture our talent but remove the dead wood. It is not right that teachers and learners who want to work should spend so much time fighting a war of attrition against those who are bent on destroying them.

Let us define children's rights, couple them with responsibilities and let each child be held responsible for his or her own actions.

Let us ensure that children who graduate from high schools are given the chance to make the most of their talents so that they can have the motivation to succeed. For this reason the DA proposes opportunity vouchers for all matriculants to give those who would not otherwise have the resources the chance to study further, to open business or to learn a trade.

Let us declare war on drugs in schools. Any child found in possession of drugs on school property must be subjected to automatic expulsion, to serve as an example. Let us pay educators decent salaries so that teaching becomes an attractive profession.

There has been some recent progress in this regard, which the DA welcomes, but we are still concerned that quality of education is given too little recognition in salary structures. Let us recreate colleges of education so that the country can produce teachers well qualified for all subject at all levels. Nkosi sikelel'Afrika. [God bless Africa.] [Applause.]

Ms P R MASHANGOANE

END OF TAKE

Mr G G BOINAMO

Ms P R MASHANGOANE: Chairperson, let me from the outset commend the Minister on her illuminating and indeed candid account of the kind of education system we as a nation indeed aspire to and for raising the serious challenges that continue to bedevil our education system.

It is patently clear from this to all of us, even the ignorant, that both at political and administrative levels, the education sector is on a solid footing, aberrations and all. It is precisely these aberrations that manifest themselves to the extent where they get exploited for political mileage.

In this regard, we have made the required interventions in relation to schools that provide education to our poorest and particularly rural learners, along with school nutrition and infrastructure, but, on the whole, our priority remains provision of quality education.

Allow me to elaborate on these interventions as they require scrutiny insofar as they reflect on the department's scorecard. Earlier this year, during the state of the nation address, it was noted that, as the ANC-led government, we need to intensify our efforts to finance and resource schools in the lowest three quintiles. In this regard, the department has reached its target of having 40% of schools being no-fee schools, impacting on schools in the lowest two quintiles in 2007.

In our efforts to improve access and intensify the fight against poverty, at our 52nd national conference in Polokwane, we resolved to have 60% of schools being no-fee schools by next year, 2009. This target will not merely be a target but will be underpinned by additional measures and support. This will include capacitating school management teams - school governing bodies - in financial management, establishing collaborations to source alternative and extra means of revenue, linking this to the sustained supply of water, sanitation and electricity, etc. Being a people-centred government with the objective of building a caring society, these measures are designed to ease the financial burden on parents in their desire to provide their children with quality education. Moreover, as the ANC-led portfolio committee, we will ensure that it is indeed implemented in the rural schools where the burden of poverty is most profoundly experienced.

In relation to school nutrition, we have, as a caring government, introduced the National School Nutrition Programme as one of our antipoverty programmes in our schools. The key objective of this programme is the provision of nutritious meals to our learners. Although not 100% efficient in terms of delivery, efficiency and capacity of these service providers, and the incidence of corruption, etc, it does relieve our learners of short-term hunger and nutrient deprivation, thus ensuring enhanced learning capacity.

As the ANC, we will call on the department, given the trying times which particularly the poor are currently experiencing, to leave no stone unturned to not only eliminate the challenges I have outlined, but also to do more in this regard.

Having said that, it is commendable that various measures have been taken to improve accountability and efficiency. In this regard, the Auditor-General's reports relating to school-feeding management in provincial departments in 2005-06 noted these measures. Amongst others, it includes internal audits and regular reporting.

Furthermore, it has always been argued that local communities should be involved in delivering school nutrition. Exclusive focus on government-sponsored delivery mechanisms eliminates much-needed socioeconomic benefits for our communities. As the ANC, we believe that a more broad-based community approach should be investigated in order to transform it from an exclusive school-feeding programme to a more integrated programme. At the same time, we wish to commend the Minister for having ensured Cabinet support for the expansion of the programme, thus acknowledging the imperative of the elimination of narrow targeting.

Let me now speak not of the lamentable but highly emotive issue of school safety. As far as the ANC is concerned, the safety of our school environment remains non-negotiable. As public representatives, we can no longer tolerate the brazen violation of the sanctity of school premises. Criminality, violence and particularly violence with racial undertones do not belong in our centres of learning.

We are obviously highly appreciative of the sterling efforts and mechanisms that both the national and provincial departments are putting in place and we commend this. These include support to management, educators, SGBs and learners, controlled access to schools, provision of steel palisade fences, security guards, hand-held metal detectors, etc.

The unacceptably high levels and daily dosages are still very disconcerting. In the same breath, we want to call upon trade unions to also join the campaign against these reprehensible scourges. Too often, teachers' unions shirk their responsibility in this regard. They must desist from being representatives for securing advances and improvement in economic conditions and benefits for their members only. They must become proactive participants across the terrain of learning.

The state of the nation address committed government to accelerating infrastructure delivery. This entails an integrated infrastructure plan which spans information and technology, roads, water and electricity. This is necessitated by the huge infrastructure backlog in schools, particularly classrooms, a feature which manifests itself acutely in the rural provinces. In the same breath, I must commend the department for having developed a national strategy on the provision of school infrastructure and basic services, which Cabinet approved in the previous financial year.

Over the next Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period, provinces have budgeted over R18 billion for such infrastructure and equipment. It will, however, be critical for the Department of Education to put in place a collaborative multisectoral approach with all the relevant departments to ensure that these basic services are made available in schools.

More critical is for this department to align its infrastructure plans with the integrated plans, as envisaged in the state of the nation address. Moreover, and what is indeed more encouraging, is that the integrated infrastructure plans intend to increase the intake of young people and hence contribute to job creation and long-term income-generating benefits, particularly for the poor.

As the ANC, we support all these programmes since they are in line with our stated objectives of improving access for poor South Africans to quality education. Better still, it underpins the imperatives of the democratic developmental state which must be able to lead in defining the national education agenda. The ANC supports the Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]

Mr N SINGH

END OF TAKE

Ms P R MASHANGOANE

Mr N SINGH: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Minister, Deputy Minister and colleagues, firstly I would like to apologise on behalf of my colleague Mr Mpontshane who is a member of the portfolio committee, who has been called away to KwaZulu-Natal on a family emergency matter, but I will try and adequately express my party's view point on this Education Vote.

Education is the bedrock of any society's development. The IFP acknowledges that the hon Minister of Education and her department have got good intentions, which look very good on paper, but unfortunately the sad truth is that many of the good intentions are not being adequately implemented in the education system today. As we all know, the road to hell is also paved with good intentions.

In the fight for quality education we would like to highlight some critical issues that need urgent attention. The primal question we have to ask is: Are we getting value for money? In each and every year we have seen an increment in the Education budget and this year there is no exception. Yet, the system continues to be dysfunctional in many ways and on many levels. Districts, for instance, remain the weakest points in the educational chain, lacking both accountability and resources.

The distribution of educators in schools remains problematic with equity and equality becoming casualties in the process. Part of the problem is to be found in the distribution of teachers as prescribed by the distribution model which the department has adopted. It is also important to remember that balance is needed between unionism and professionalism in the appointment of teachers.

It has become very clear to the IFP that in some instances professional appointments have taken a back seat to political appointments which are not acceptable. For a very long time, the IFP has stressed its believe that the education system in South Africa is in a state of revolving crisis. Having inherited an education system which is based on racial discrimination, this government continues to fail to provide an education that prepares our students for university and the job market.

However, we are pleased that the hon Minister has pointed out certain interventions which will be taken in this regard. The country presently lacks highly qualified and highly motivated educators. Under the present system there is a scarcity and an uneven or erratic distribution of resources.

I would like to follow in the footsteps of my hon colleague, who spoke before me, hon Mashangoane - on safety. The DA member also spoke about safety in our schools. Many of our educational institutions have become havens of drug abuse, violence, teenage pregnancies, ill-discipline and immoral behaviour. Some of our school grounds have become war zones and not places of safety and learning. All in all, this is a sorry state.

We must bring back a culture of accountability throughout the system at both educator and management levels. The IFP believes that the Safer Schools Programme, introduced at the beginning of 2007 by the department in partnership with SAPS, is having known noticeable impact and little has been done to help schools implement their safety plans.

We would like to see more money invested into the Safer Schools' Project and we call on parents and educators to redouble their efforts to help implement the safety measures outlined by this programme. The IFP believes that school violence is a reflection of a sick society. We need to urgently restore the values of ubuntu which has gradually eroded over the years.

The IFP is not in the habit of saying: I told you so. But the IFP has always questioning the reasoning behind the closure of teachers training colleges by the ANC-led government. We argue that the ANC desires to destroy what it wrongly regarded as apartheid creations but should not blind them to the education realities facing South Africa. One of these undeniable realities is the need for the continuous training of teachers at specialised institutions. I agree with the hon Minister there, in the move to do this. The shortage of teachers in South Africa has been amplified and exacerbated by the higher rate of teacher attrition due to, amongst other things, HIV and Aids.

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, we are informed that there is a need of a further 12 000 educators, more especially in the maths, science and technology field. The Minister also informed us that 1 200 teachers are to be trained in this regard, but we need another zero to be added behind that number. The IFP would also like to repeat our call to the Minister of Education to intervene at the Mangosuthu University of Technology, where 16 Sadesmo-affiliated students were suspended.

It is very disconcerting that neither the Minister nor her department intervened, while the institution was rocked by protests and violence. Furthermore, we are concerned that the management of the university acted unfairly and has shown that they were clearly biased by blaming this violence solely on Sadesmo students. We believe that all the students were involved in the strikes. We are worried that those students who have been suspended were not attending classes. As the hon Mayatula spoke about the ANC policy at Polokwane - about the right of responsibility; we have the responsibility to ensure that the audi alteram partem rule is applied.

These students should immediately be taken back to classes and not lose an hour more, doing nothing whilst their disciplinary hearing is going on. We felt that that was the only fair thing to do because all of us here in this House believe that they are innocent until proven guilty.

We in the IFP, are also concerned that whilst we readily acknowledge the right of the new generation of South African school children to an education free of residual bias. Prior to 1994 the segregated education system in South Africa stemmed directly from a history of colonialism and apartheid. We believe that the universal civic freedoms embedded in our democratic dispensation should be mirrored in a modern and progressive school curriculum, free of ulterior motives and narrow political agenda.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon member, the time has expired.

Mr N SINGH: Madam Deputy Speaker, I did explain to the hon Minister and the Deputy Minister that unfortunately I will have to leave and they have understood me. [Laughter.] [Time Expired.]

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The time has expired! Other arrangements are not part of what I am dealing with.

Ms S N SIGCAU

END OF TAKE

Mr N SINGH

Ms S N SIGCAU: Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Minister and hon members, the challenges that face us when we consider this particular Budget Vote is that we all know that we are spending a vast amount of taxpayers' money to provide quality education. The reality is that a vast number of adults is illiterate or lacks even the most basic of skills, whereas studies of school-going learners show disturbing trends as far as functional literacy and numeracy is concerned. The reality is that millions of South African children especially those in vast deep rural areas arrive desperately hungry or malnourished at school and can barely focus in the classroom as a result thereof.

The reality is that crime, violence, sexual assault and substance abuse that have gained a foothold in many communities have filtered into our schools and schools should be havens of stability and provide sanctuary to learners. Schools have become unsafe environments.

Higher education remains the preserve of a small number of people where insufficient support from government translates into high fees that exclude many talented but poor potential students.

These realities cannot be argued away. Our concern is that despite the billions that the department have at its disposal these challenges are not declining. The question arises therefore, is the budget insufficient or is there failure in service delivery? One is inclined to think that the answer is more of the latter. After all none of the above challenges are new or unknown. For instance literacy campaigns have come and gone for 14 years without any significant successes. What we need now is the decisive leadership and management for both teachers and the department. The UDM supports the Budget Vote 13. Thank you.

Mr M H HOOSEN

END OF TAKE

Mrs S N SIGCAU

Mr M H HOOSEN: Hon Chairperson, allow me first to thank the hon Minister and hon members of the portfolio committee, as well as the various role-players who are present here today for the very good work that has been done to address the historical imbalances and the various challenges in Education for which we are very grateful.

I want to raise an issue which is very important to the ID and which is close to the hearts and minds of thousands of young children. I was glad to learn that the hon chairperson of the portfolio committee has alluded to this earlier on. This is not an issue that comes from Polokwane; it actually comes way before that. It is a call that the ID has been making for several months now.

The National School Nutrition Programme, better known as the

school feeding scheme, brought joy to the faces of thousands of young children when introduced many years ago. This programme has had a remarkable impact on the quality of life for beneficiary communities in our country. The scheme continues to provide for primary school children which we recognise as a great success.

More than 13 years later the time has come for us to extend this feeding scheme to the secondary schools as well. It is well documented that hunger and poor nutrition is the core contributor to the attention deficit, sensory impairments and poor school attendance which in turn has a direct negative impact on year-end results. I would like to get the hon Minister's response in her closing arguments to whether or not she will address this in the months to come.

The hunger of a 15- or 16- year-old learner is no less inhibiting than that of an eight-year old. There are thousands of learners who have to go to school each day without any breakfast or lunch and are expected to do their school work and produce good results. As we know deprivation may well affect their performance resulting in poor results when compared with their more privileged counterparts, later in the job market they will again be disadvantaged by these results. We will never address historical imbalances if we don't address the basic requirements which will level the playing field between children from wealthy and children from poor communities.

There are many other challenges that also need urgent and ongoing attention, like the huge backlogs in the provision of school transport for children from disadvantaged communities. There are still far too many learners who have to walk long distances to get a decent education in our country. The ID calls the Minister to urgently address this breach of the South African Schools Act.

I want to share with the House and highlight the excellent work done by the principal and teachers of a very poor school in KwaZulu-Natal, which I visited last week, called Lotus Primary School. Some children from indigent households are beneficiaries of a bursary programme introduced by the school to secure funding from surrounding businesses. The scheme brings businessmen face to face with adopted learners and their parents. Together they monitor the ongoing progress of the child throughout the year. The only condition is that external sponsorship will be withdrawn in favour of another learner, if the learner under the supervision of his parents, fails to maintain above average grades.

This kind of partnership by parents, school and community must be actively encouraged all over our country wherever possible. Sadly, not withstanding the fact that more than 70% of the learners in this school come from indigent households, the department has classified the school as a Quintile 5 because of geographic location. This poses a huge problem to many schools in middle-income communities who are sandwiched between rich and poor communities as a result of historical spatial development patterns. Many of these schools provide access to education to children from impoverished communities that are being penalised because of geographical location. The spatial method of targeting is not a precise method of determination and many deserving schools are falling through the cracks.

The ID therefore calls on the Minister to review the qualifying criteria for determination and extend this benefit to deserving schools that have been unfairly classified. I thank you for you attention.

Ms M J J MATSOMELA

END OF TAKE

Mr M H HOOSEN

Ms M J J MATSOMELA: Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, it is now widely accepted that, in the contemporary context of the knowledge society and economic globalisation, higher education is vital for development in all its facets. The higher education sector has a range of roles but its traditional, interlinked functions of research and teaching continue to represent its key contributions and responsibilities. In the South African context, the inclusiveness of the higher education sector is also a key factor, affecting its value to the society. Given the significance attached to higher education, it is important for the performance of the sector, in all its main functions, to be critically assessed.

The Higher Education programme received 80,49%, which constitutes the bulk of the total education budget and an increase of 13,89% in comparison to the 2007-08 budget. Such financial allocation ought to prompt a renewed focus on higher education and its role in national development. Government's emphasis on economic development, the establishment of clear growth targets and the continued implementation of Asgisa have highlighted the importance of advanced skills, and shortages of such skills have been identified as one of the major obstacles to development.

Considerable work has been done on knowledge production and policy development, but there is still a prevalence of unsatisfactory students' performance patterns in the higher education sector, particularly with regard to first year attrition. We will, therefore, watch with keen interest, not only the Matric results this year, but also the performance of first year students at the end of 2009, given the new university admission requirements set by the Department of Education.

Previous studies have revealed the stark realities of racial inequalities in higher education. In addition, higher education institutions produce an insufficient number of graduates, particularly black graduates. Some studies argue that universities are not producing enough graduates with relevant qualifications for the labour market. Others point out that the labour market has discrimination problems of its own, most conspicuous is the deliberate refusal to employ graduates from historically black universities. While the new higher education policy will improve the quality of education programmes offered in the institutions created as a result of mergers, and will also reduce perceptions of inadequacy in higher education held in the labour market, the challenge of resources requires urgent attention, particularly in the historically black universities and former black campuses.

Steep university fees contribute to the continued underrepresentation of black students, which threatens to replicate racial inequality in higher education well into the future. In 2005, 30% of all university students were white, compared to 37% in 1995. White students made up a third of the student body at the University of the Witwatersrand, half of the student population at the University of Cape Town and three-quarters of students at Stellenbosch University. Government tried to help by setting up the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and in real terms, NSFAS loans to students increased fivefold between 1995 and 2005. But each award averaged only R10 000 in 2005, which is a fraction of the cost of a university degree.

Let's look at existing evidence regarding success and drop-out rates. The performance, in particular that of black Africans, is well below the national average. Black Africans and Coloureds, sections of society that bore the brunt of exclusion by apartheid education policies and legislation, continue to lag behind in education success rates. All role-players in higher education should be concerned that nearly 14 years since the advent of democracy, the promise of equality has yet to materialise. There is no doubt that as a result of apartheid policies and legislation, repetition and drop-out rates among black students are high and matriculation pass rates low. Their contention is that an adequate measure of equity need not require that whites and blacks exhibit similar outcomes. What it does require, however, is that outcomes for black students be raised to a minimum threshold that will equip them to participate meaningfully in the country's economy in the new democratic era.

The drop-out rates indicate a few interesting facts. In 2005 the Department of Education reported that of the 120 000 students who enrolled in higher education in 2000, 36 000, which is 30%, dropped out in their first year of study. A further 24 000, which is 20%, dropped out during their second and third years. Of the remaining 60 000, 22% graduated within the specified three years duration for a generic Bachelors degree. Subsequently, the department issued a public statement lamenting that the drop-out rate was costing the National Treasury R4,5 billion in grants and subsidies to higher education institutions without a commensurate return on investment.

Recent evidence shows that on average, 70% of the families of the higher education drop-outs surveyed were in the category "low economic status". Black African families were particularly poor, with some parents and guardians earning less than R1 600 a month. Yet, many of the students coming from these families depended on their parents or guardians for financial support to pay their fees and/or supplement what they get from NSFAS to provide for essential living expenses. Many of those who dropped out indicated that they worked to augment their meagre financial resources, no doubt adding to their stress levels and distracting them from their studies. The high drop out rate is compounded by the inability of universities to attract qualified staff, especially, South Africans.

In light of the above, I would like to make the following

recommendations: Firstly, a voucher system, but not the opportunity voucher that was referred to by hon Boinamo. It cannot be the same thing. Poverty is not confined to historically black universities. Some pockets of poverty are conspicuous, even in the former white universities. Targeting according to region or institution is not enough, partly because students move between institutions. A voucher system could assist students financially. The voucher could be used in the form of a certificate that parents and students could use to pay for education at a university of their choice. Vouchers would allow for greater economic diversity by offering lower-income students the opportunity to attend universities that were previously unaffordable.

Secondly, addressing inter-generational deprivations, research suggests that childhood experiences are related to later social exclusion. University students from poor families study under difficult conditions. They face the challenge of studying in shacks or other cramped living quarters. Several other factors are important in determining the success of students, for example, children from poor families have limited social mobility, matriculants from poor families are likely to drop out due to financial problems, and children from social grants takers need more than NSFAS currently offers. Unless South Africa seriously addresses issues of poverty and inequality, it is unlikely that the high drop-out rates and underrepresentation of black African students will improve.

Another crucial issue that requires our attention is curriculum reform. The educational factor, to which poor performance is perhaps most commonly ascribed across the higher education sector, is student underpreparedness for standard undergraduate programmes. The impact of inequalities in the school system is not in dispute. A key issue, however, is what underpreparedness means. Underpreparedness should not be equated with a fundamental inability to cope with higher education, though the term is sometimes used as a euphemism for this. It has been argued earlier that, since the students who currently gain entry to higher education are in the top quintile of the population in terms of prior performance, the large proportion of underprepared students among them should not be discounted as lacking the potential to succeed. An alternative view of the situation is that a significant part of the problem is inadequate articulation between the secondary and further education system and higher education in its existing standard forms.

Students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds have generally not been exposed to key academic approaches and experiences that are taken for granted in traditional higher education programmes. The resulting articulation gap, as referred to in the 1997 White Paper, is manifested in students as lacking sound foundations for tertiary studies and has profound effects on students' ability to respond positively to higher education programmes, irrespective of how talented they are. The articulation gap can be seen as a major contributor to underperformance in higher education. It has negative effects on the following aspects of the sector's performance: Firstly, growth, because there are too few qualified candidates; secondly, equity of access, because it predominantly affects historically disadvantaged groups; thirdly, shape, because articulation is particularly problematic in numerate disciplines, which are fundamental to the programmes where growth is most needed; fourthly, efficiency, because it results in slow progress, dropout or failure; fifthly, equity of outcomes, as attrition tends to be highest in the groups that are already under-represented and whose successful participation is critical to improving graduate output; and sixthly, quality of outcomes, in that students who are not able to construct adequate academic foundations have particular difficulty in gaining mastery in their disciplines.

Various aspects of the performance patterns, including shortages of qualified candidates, high first-year attrition rates, and low completion rates in regulation time, point to a mismatch between the outcomes of schooling and the demands of the entry level of higher education programmes. Given the effects on performance, it is important to take into account of the experience gained from interventions designed to address this systemic problem, which in South Africa have mainly taken the form of foundational provision and extended programmes.

There are, thus, two interlinked aspects of structural reform that are key to allowing for diversity: Firstly, the provision of alternative entry levels, with additional foundational provision for those who need it, to directly address the need for effective articulation through taking realistic account of the differentials in students' prior educational experiences; and secondly, provision for flexibility in pace of progression through the programme, without in any way diluting the required component courses or programme-level outcomes. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]

Mrs C DUDLEY

END OF TAKE

Ms M J J MATSOMELA

Mrs C DUDLEY: Chairperson and hon Minister, the ACDP welcomes government's decision to allocate a R121,1 billion, which is the largest share of the 2008-9 Budget, to Education.

Access to quality education and training for all South Africans is essential, and the benefits of this education and training will impact on every area of life. Therefore, every cent allocated to education potentially positively impacts on all other budgets.

Fundamental to the success of learners is of course the need for basics like nutrition, and the ACDP would like to see government prioritising the roll-out of food nutrition programmes to secondary school in marginalised areas.

Early Childhood Development, it appears, has at last been prioritised and a focus on expanding programmes, particularly for children in rural, farming and other marginalised communities, is music to ACDP ears.

Early childhood, especially from birth to seven years, is a period of rapid of physical, mental, emotional, social, and moral growth and development. During the early years of a child's life, they begin to realise concepts, skills and attitudes that lay the foundation for lifelong-learning. Presently, the fact that the majority of young children in South Africa do not have access to ECD services is a great disadvantage for these children, and impact negatively on the potential for those communities to rise above the poverty or challenges they face.

Sadly, South Africa only committed a very small portion of the Education budget to ECD in 2007, despite the research done which stated that children who profit from early childhood development are more likely to cope well at school, go on to tertiary education, and become economically productive.

The Education for All Global Monitoring Report, 2007 identified South Africa as a low-spender along with Burundi, Senegal and Swaziland. Studies conducted in developing countries revealed links between participation in early childhood programmes, primary school enrolment, and better results over at least three to four years, particularly, for disadvantaged children. Children who attended pre-school in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania had much better language skills than non-participants, and had achieved better results up to Grade Four. Evidence indicated that the higher an African country's pre-primary enrolment ratio, the higher its primary school completion rate, and the lower its lower repetition rate in primary school. Of the over one million pupils who enrolled for Grade 1 in South Africa this year, less than 400 000 attended a Grade R class last year. According to the Institute for Democracy in South Africa, funding that Grade R pupils get, compared to other primary school learners, does not persuade one that Grade R is a government priority. Hon Minister, all eyes will be on the department in this regard and the ACDP looks forward to a speedy and successful roll-out.

Of course, all eyes will also be on the provinces, which must be held accountable in terms of their responsibility to adequately budget for and implement the roll-out of ECD programmes where they are most needed. We will support this budget. Thank you.

Mr I S MFUNDISI

END OF TAKE

Mrs C DUDLEY

Mr I S MFUNDISI: Chairperson, the UCDP fully accepts that education is a basic human right. To this extent, we are resentful of any manifestations of political control or interference, because we do not wish to see our schools used as pawns in the pursuit of electoral advantage or educational policies subjected to frequent change according to the party in power.

We resist the idea that the individual should be indoctrinated with party-political creeds or moulded in highly specific casts, as we believe that such functions may be abused. To mind comes the wording of the creed that is clearly humanistic, the books deliberately written to denigrate some leaders and approved by the department. These are clear instruments that will polarise South African society further.

The time has come that we depoliticise education. It is unfortunate that, as a weapon of resistance during the apartheid years, the education sector was deprofessionalised. Fourteen years into democracy, there has to be a change of mind in the educators' profession. The SA Council of Educators still has a long way to go to achieve this. We, however, welcome the consideration to reinstate inspectors, as the Minister indicated.

According to Professor Ali Mazrui - the world renowned educationist - the basic values of education are: tolerance, toil and teamwork, values that are clearly far removed from party creed and which will be acceptable to most educationists.

Prevalent nepotism in employment practices in education show lack of tolerance, poor results, point to lack of toil, and the impasse in schools shows lack of teamwork among educators, parents and pupils alike. With this situation, there will be no progress in education.

We maintain that the primary duty of educators and, by extension, the Department of Education, is to educate the nation, from the cradle to the grave. Early Childhood Development Centres should be generously staffed by educators, otherwise they will be counterproductive. Trained and qualified teachers should mould these young brains. They should not be left to chance under the guise of community development in some department; this is dereliction of duty by the Department of Education.

I must congratulate the Department of Education for the launch of Kha Ri Gude. The results are clearly visible. We hope that it will be extended to other provinces quite soon. It has succeeded because pilot provinces were used, unlike the failure that is outcomes-based education, which was introduced in a very untried and unorthodox manner as far as education is concerned.

University mergers are proving to be a headache. Perhaps time has come that some, such as at the North West university campus of Mafikeng, that should be demerged because the quality of staffing and academic standards has dropped since the merger. The hon Minister, having lectured there in the past, can surely attest to this from her present vantage point.

There are complaints that schools are not well staffed, yet qualified former lecturers of the colleges of education that have been closed down are idle and twiddling their fingers at the district offices. The further education and training colleges do not use them either, but the great argument is that, instead of them being paid for doing nothing, they should rather teach at high schools with retention of their lecturers' emoluments. Some of these lecturers are mathematics wizards. It is regrettable that, owing to the frustration of not being appreciated, some have degenerated into alcoholics while others have committed suicide. [Time expired.]

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION

END OF TAKE

Mr I S MFUNDISI

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Chairperson, hon members, esteemed guests, ladies and gentlemen, I should at the outset express my deep gratitude to the Minister for an incredible and extraordinary leadership, the director-general, the deputy director-generals who are present out here for their sterling performance, the MECs for their support and the heads of department who are present here, as well as to the officials and staff within the Ministry. Perhaps, together, we should be called the e-team.

Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine that the child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation.

These are the words of Nelson Mandela.

Nelson Mandela captured the essence of our theme of this year's Education Budget Vote which states that education changes lives and communities. There is no better gift to Nelson Mandela on his 90th birthday other than to provide access to quality education to our learners and communities.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela continues to inspire South Africans and millions of people in all parts of the world by his attributes of compassion, forgiveness, tolerance and his unwavering commitment to social justice and democracy. By celebrating his life, as well as the lives of other heroes and heroines in our society, we reiterate the importance of such values and how such individuals have influenced the course of history and provided a platform for defining the nature of our society and understanding the true purport and meaning of our constitutional values, rights and freedoms.

In the classroom, the power to change lies in the hands of the teacher. A child psychologist, Haim Ginott, succinctly states as follows:

I have come to the frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanized or de-humanized.

This enormous power and responsibility in teachers suggests that what we should be attentive to is not only what is taught, but how it is taught and why it is taught.

A few days ago, at a well-attended gathering of principals of schools of technology in Johannesburg, I was struck by a remark of a principal who stated that in order to transform an institution from within, it is critical to understand how the world has changed on the outside. The rapidly changing world has taken a transcendental leap towards a knowledge economy. Recognising this reality, we have to take into account the changes, needs, expanded opportunities and realities of our country and the world. As Nelson Mandela stated, education is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change the world.

We must recognise that our expanding economy desperately needs skills correctly identified by the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa, Asgisa. Among the skills identified by Jipsa are mathematics, science and technology, intermediate and artisan skills, and high level professional skills such as engineering.

Competence in Information and Communication Technology, ICT is the fundamental competence in the knowledge economy. The goal of the White Paper on e-Education is that all teachers, learners, managers and administrators will be ICT-capable by 2013. This means they must be able to use ICT confidently and creatively, have the skills and knowledge to achieve personal goals and be full participants in the global information society.

Guidelines for teacher development identify three categories of professional development in the ICT field: Firstly, basic ICT competency; secondly, integration of ICT into teaching and learning; and thirdly, specialisation and innovation in ICT and education. Thus far, approximately 53 000 teachers have been trained in basic ICT skills and some 24 000 teachers have received training in ICT integration into the curriculum. We have also revitalised and revised the content of the national educational portal called "Thutong". This has more than 31 000 registered users and more than 22 000 curriculum resources. We invite members to access this important website.

In the context of ICT, we must celebrate the national Learner Unit Records Information and Tracking System, Lurits. This system will track the movement of learners from Grade R to Grade 12 between schools and provinces. When a learner is registered on the system, the learner is assigned a unique national learner tracking number that will remain with him or her throughout his or her schooling career. The development of the system has been completed and is being implemented incrementally for learners in ordinary and special schools from May 2008 and will be fully operational in all provinces by March 2010.

In consistence with Jipsa's objective of promoting mathematics, science and technology, we have increased, in fact, expanded our Dinaledi schools to 500. We are providing additional teacher support, progressively supplying ICT connectivity and distributing learning resource materials to all our Dinaledi schools.

It is evident that the success of the Dinaledi project is also dependant on the availability of teachers who are able to teach high level mathematics and science. In addition, it has also been recognised that proficiency in English is an important element to enhance performance in mathematics and science. As a result, the Department of Education has initiated a teacher-training programme with the aim of supporting teachers in Dinaledi schools. The programmes are aimed at improving teacher content knowledge in mathematics, science and English. Already, a total of 2400 teachers in Dinaledi schools have participated in a 100-hour training in mathematics and science.

We can also celebrate the adoption of legislation which gives effect to the revised National Qualifications Framework, NQF. Cabinet has approved legislation in terms of which there is now, for the first time, an integration between education and training, theory and practice, and allows for free mobility in the articulation of knowledge and skills.

In 2007, the Department of Education developed the Adopt-a-School project – a framework for private partners to support the development of Dinaledi schools. The purpose of this project is to encourage co-operation between the public and private sectors in the development of Dinaledi schools, with a view to promote mathematics and science in a very co-ordinated and sustainable manner. The response from the private sector and public higher education institutions has been encouraging. Already, 276 Dinaledi schools have been adopted by 14 partners.

The Department of Education has also enrolled approximately 50 000 Dinaledi learners in the Mathematics Olympiads. This programme is intended to stimulate and fire the imagination of learners in the development of mathematics and science.

Just as we benefited from collaboration with the private sector, with our Dinaledi project, we receive similar support for our Further Education and Training, FET colleges. Consistent with the objectives of Jipsa, we have redesigned the curriculum content. We now have dedicated learning areas for engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering, construction engineering, tourism, agriculture, as well as financial and general management. We take pride in the fact that government has made available an amount of R600 million as bursaries in the FET sector, and we also take pride in the fact that we have already exceeded our target of 50 000 learners in the current year. This augurs well for the skills development revolution that is taking place within our country.

Today, four years ago, South Africa won the bid to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The department is strategically positioning itself to take advantage of the benefits that will accrue from the coming world's premier football showcase. As I address you today, our learners in schools are participating in a South African Schools Football World Cup competition which our Minister launched on 10 May 2008. The schools soccer world cup competition will mobilise South Africans in general and our boy and girl-learners in particular to host and participate in the confederation of Fifa Soccer World Cup in 2010. This initiative will promote physical activity, healthy lifestyles and mass participation in music, arts and culture. It seeks to promote national pride and unity and build values of nonracialism and tolerance. It will encourage and mobilise learners to learn more about the 2010 Fifa participating nations. In this way, we can deal with issues of tolerance in a much more considered way.

I consider these efforts as one of the many strategies of making inroads into our fight against crime and violence in our schools. The fight against crime in our schools requires government to be innovative and creative in its response. We will intensify our intervention in terms improving security through infrastructure, rehabilitation and the raising of awareness through a combination of current programmes aimed at learners and educators such as the Safe, Caring and Child-friendly Schools and Schools as Centres of Care and Support.

The principal, in terms of our legislation, the Education Laws Amendment Act, has now been given the powers to conduct random searches and seizures and drug testing at schools under given conditions. The Act further requires, and this is very important, the principal to prepare and submit to the head of department an annual report on academic performance in the minimum outcomes and standards, as well as procedures for assessments contained in curriculum policies, and to indicate the effective use of all resources, including school fees, in the delivery of quality education in schools. In terms of the Act, the head of department has an obligation to identify underperforming schools from principals' reports about the performance of their schools, made in terms of section 16(a) and from any other reports, including the school evaluation report.

There is adequate empirical evidence that the quality of school leadership improves the quality of teaching and learning at schools. We have therefore introduced the Advanced Certificate of Education: School Leadership for participants who are principals. It is a two-year programme intended as an early entry qualification for aspiring principals through a field test involving 446 principals who were selected from six provinces and who had begun training last year. The response that we received is that this is an exciting opportunity for principals. It teaches them, amongst other things, leadership skills, the ability to implement the curriculum in an effective way, the ability to interact with communities, the ability to deal with issues in a democratic manner and the ability to manage and administer a school efficiently and effectively. It is through initiatives such as the skills revolution in FET colleges, ICT in FET colleges and schools, teacher development and leadership development of principals that we should proudly assert that education has made a difference in our lives; education has made a difference in the lives of our community. I thank you for paying attention. [Applause.]

Mr W D SPIES

END OF TAKE

The DEPUTY MINISTER OF EDUCATION

Mr W D SPIES: Hon Chairperson, three days ago an official from the Department of Education, Mr Granville Whittle took part in an SABC radio talk show. He introduced himself as the department's official responsible for race and values. I had to verify: Is it still possible, that 14 years after the creation of a so-called nonracial South Africa, that the department could establish a division in its own ranks that focuses on race?

Afrikaans:

Dit is daarom nie vreemd dat rasseprobleme nog steeds op kampusse voorkom nie, want die regering, wat veronderstel is om `n voorbeeld van nie-rassigheid te stel, het `n obsessie met ras. Alles word in terme van ras gemeet.

English:

If you continue to measure according to race, then people will continue to act according to race. That is human nature. [Interjections.]

Afrikaans

Julle moet julle mense leer – ek gaan julle nou iets vertel. Verlede week het die studenteorganisasies Sasco, Pasma en die ANC Jeugliga met 'n veldtog teen `n dosent by die Vaaldriehoekkampus van die Noordwes Universiteit begin. Die veldtog was die resultaat van `n misverstand oor iets wat deur die dosent gesê is. Die VF Plus se jeugorganisasie het `n verklaring uitgereik oor die voorval en die rassistiese veldtogte van die ANC Jeugliga, Sasco en Pasma wat daarop gevolg het, gekritiseer. In plaas van om gesprekvoering te bied, soos wat gevra is deur die VF Plus, het die universiteit gereageer en alle fondse van dié organisasie gevries.

English:

The Director of Student Affairs at the campus Reverend Openg informed our local leaders that according to instructions from the department, only Sasco will in future be allowed on campuses. These allegations are very serious and we request the Minister to follow up on them.

Our party is experiencing similar incidents of victimisation at the Tshwane University of Technology. At Unisa our student structures have thus far been prevented from registering for the upcoming SRC elections. We also received complaints from a range of non-ANC-aligned organisations expressing exactly the same frustrations.

The Minister should indicate whether she is committed to allow free democratic processes on our campuses, and if so, the message should be conveyed very clearly.

Afrikaans

Die Minister het vanjaar haar planne oor `n plegtige verklaring van getrouheid vir leerders bekend gemaak. Die VF Plus het deelgeneem aan die proses van openbare deelname. Ons het die name van meer as 3000 mense aan die departement oorhandig wat gevra het dat die regering nie voortgaan met sy implementering van die verklaring wat volgens ons opinie, neerkom op die beslaglegging van die gewetens van ons kinders nie.

Mr D V BLOEM: Van Orania af!

Afrikaans

Mr W D SPIES: Tydens 'n onlangse vergadering van ons jeugstrukture met die Minister het sy ons meegedeel dat sy voortgaan, ongeag die besware. Dit is baie jammer dat die Minister hierdie stellings gemaak het – selfs voordat die proses van openbare deelname afgehandel is. Dit sê baie van die proses van openbare deelname.

Die VF Plus wil graag deelneem aan `n vennootskap met die regering, met ouers, met kerke, met gemeenskappe en kinders, om vir Suid-Afrika `n onderwysbestel te vind, wat ons werklik op die voorpunt plaas. Ons het dit beslis nodig. Maar `n vennootskap vereis wedersydse vertroue en wedersydse respek. Dit verg respek vir die wil van die meerderheid, maar dit verg ook begrip en erkenning vir die minderheid. Ons hoop om vorentoe so `n vennootskap te vind en ons praat graag met u daaroor. Ek dank u.

Dr S E M PHEKO

END OF TAKE

Mr W D SPIES

Dr S E M PHEKO: Chairperson, the PAC supports this Budget Vote. It appreciates the R22 billion allocated to Education. Education is the finest foundation for nation-building. It is the key for national success; no national development can occur without human development. It is skills that develop a country, whether they be teaching, engineering or carpentry or farming skills. The world is becoming a tough competitive global village. Those who have knowledge will get all the riches out of this village. Those without knowledge will collect all the crumbs of this global village. It is critical, that like a well-trained army assured of victory in a ferocious war, our youth is equipped with quality education and skills that capacitate them to do things for themselves and to serve their nation competently.

The global village does not accommodate dangerous theories such as "pass one, pass all". Education is not a matter of status. Education is for service. It is knowledge that determines the place of a nation in the world, whether at the top or at the bottom.

In Africa today we are sitting on all kinds of riches but because we lack knowledge, we remain the poorest people in the world. We have uranium but we have no nuclear technology for advanced medicinal purposes, alternative sources of energy in this electricity crisis, etc. Others are technologically advanced today in the global village because of our uranium and our other raw materials. When shall we have cars or tractors that we proudly say: They are made in Africa. A nation that exports its raw materials unprocessed will be a perpetual pauper. Prophet Hosea was right when he warned his people in 734 BC: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

Education is a weapon without which the children of this nation can face life successfully. Education is the best national development. The PAC insists that education must be accessible, not only to the rich. There must a state budget to educate students from poor homes. Selecting a few schools as poor and providing them with education after primary level is not the same thing as free education. This selection is like giving our army spears and knobkerries to go and fight an army that uses ballistic missiles and atomic bombs.

Our education is too academic. It must be diversified. Students must include some technical courses in their high school education. Why should students learn a skill after Matric? It is not time some studies are taught in African languages such as chemistry, economics or plumbing ... [Time expired.]

Adv A H GAUM

END OF TAKE

Dr S E M PHEKO

Afrikaans:

Adv A H GAUM: Voorsitter, dalk moet die agb Spies vir ons sê: Is dit nou dieselfde VF Plus-jeug wat so beswaard is oor ras wat in die gepoogde volkstaat, Orania, hulle vergaderings hou?

English:

At the ANC's Polokwane conference, education was elevated to be a highest political priority; it was placed at the heart of the fight against poverty and unemployment. Only education can break the back of poverty and, as ANC president Jacob Zuma stated in his 8 January 2008 statement, education is fundamental to the achievement of the society envisaged in the Freedom Charter.

Over the last 14 years government has made important strides towards the transformation of education. It has consistently budgeted more for education than for anything else. It took enormous effort to unify education departments and dispensations. A single national matric exam has been achieved and spending has been realigned to pro-poor norms. Praiseworthy programmes aim to improve teaching and the conditions of learning, including the new curriculum. There are measures that support teacher training and bursaries, school nutrition, infrastructure improvement, scholar transport, school safety initiatives, and learning strategies around basic literacy.

I mentioned during this debate last year that huge progress has been made towards the achievement of greater access to education for so many of our people who have been victims of the legacies of the past. I argued then that the new challenge is to dramatically improve the quality of education across the board.

In his 8 January 2008 statement, the ANC president makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that we need to pay particular attention to improving the access of poor South Africans to quality education. Without quality, access is meaningless.

Afrikaans:

Ons onderwysinisiatiewe moet daarom nou, in die eerste plek, daarop gerig wees om kwaliteit met rasse skrede te verbeter.

English:

Minister Pandor should be commended for the policies she has put forward to address key problems of the education system and to reform it. There may be differences of emphasis, but I don't think reasonable South Africans would really differ with her substantially on the initiatives she has taken.

Despite the good work that has been done, we have to admit that there are still too many schools that are not working; too many schools that are failing our children; too many schools that do not deserve to be called schools; too many schools where the emphasis is on a lot of other things, but definitely not on the core business of teaching and learning; too many schools that are preventing us from becoming a skilled and educated nation - the kind of society envisaged in the Freedom Charter.

It is the learners that are trapped in these schools that rank, in test after test, among the world's worst performers. It is these learners who cannot read, write or calculate at appropriate levels when they reach high school. It is these learners who, in the absence of change, are destined to remain trapped in the poverty cycle; without skills, without jobs, without hope.

Afrikaans:

Prof Izak Oosthuizen van die fakulteit opvoedingswetenskappe aan die Noordwes Universiteit bevestig wat baie agb lede al ervaar het wanneer hy vertel van sy deelname aan 'n navorsingsprojek in sekere skole –

By ons aankoms by een van die skole het 'n groot aantal leerlinge op die speelterrein rondgeloop. Dit was nie pouse nie. Later die oggend het ek gaan loer wat in die klasse aangaan. 'n Groot groep leerlinge was steeds op die speelterrein. In die meeste klaskamers was daar geen onderwyser teenwoordig nie, en in die waar daar wel een was, het die onderwyser verveeld by die tafel gesit terwyl leerlinge doelloos gesit of rondgeloop het. Ek kon in die hele skool net een klas vind waarin 'n onderwyser aktief besig was met onderrig.

Die ervaring het Prof Oosthuizen so geskok dat hy daarna vir dae lank deur navorsingsverslae en lêers vol koerantuitknipsels geblaai het op soek na antwoorde. Hy het afgekom op tallose voorbeelde van onderwysers wat gereeld van die skool wegbly; 'n onderwyser wat vir ses maande nie in die klas was nie, besig met vakbondverpligtinge; onderwysers wat nie betyds opdaag by die skool nie of vroeg huis toe gaan; onderwysers wat begrafnisse, vakbondvergaderings en konferensies bo hulle werk stel; of wat meer siek as by die skool is. Prof Mayatula het ook na voorbeelde verwys.

English:

Unfortunately we all know that these are not isolated incidents. It appears that one of the key reasons why we still have dysfunctional schools is that we simply have too many teachers who do not teach and will not change. To these teachers we have to say: Shape up or ship out! We will not tolerate your behaviour any longer because you are failing our children. The time for tough decisions has come and the ANC is ready to take these decisions.

In the words of the ANC president –

Teachers are the critical element in our important task of ensuring quality education for all our children. Our teachers must commit to a set of nonnegotiables – to be in school, in class, on time, teaching, no abuse of learners and no neglect of duty.

In our endeavour to turn these schools around and bring these teachers to their senses, we need the active support of the unions. The unions must assist us to ensure time on task. They must penalise their members who show little or no regard for this fundamental principle. The unions are key in changing the fate of thousands of children who deserve better.

Similarly, the provinces should shape up. While we have to acknowledge that there are many hard working officials in the provinces, Graeme Bloch points out that certain provinces and district officers don't do their jobs well enough. Money is stolen; salary disputes linger; help and assistance run a poor third to bureaucratic formalism and mindless paperwork. In a developmental state, officials and teachers have to do their jobs properly and on time.

On the flip side of this reality, there is also another reality: many teachers who do teach; who go the extra mile; many schools that do work and work well. While the bad apples have to be dealt with, we should also acknowledge the great work so many of our teachers are doing amidst difficult circumstances. Unfortunately teachers have to deal with increasing ill-discipline among learners. We cannot put pressure on our teachers to perform if we do not, at the same time, empower them to deal with these disciplinary problems. In this regard, the department needs to go to the drawing board and look at innovative ways to assist teachers.

Parents should also do much more to discipline their children and not expect teachers to do their job. It is indeed very laudable that the department is putting in place various mechanisms to reward our well performing teachers and schools. We should pay our hardworking teachers much more - they hold the success or failure of our children in their hands.

The ANC president has committed to restore, uphold and promote the status of teachers by remunerating them as professionals and improving the conditions in which they work. The Minister has also committed to that. Equally important, he underlined that we must focus, in particular, on the development of the capacity of our teachers and improving the capabilities of our existing educators while training a new generation of teachers equipped with the enthusiasm, values and skills that will be needed to build a new education system.

I wanted to make the following call. I wanted to say that in this regard, it is critically important that we get all our existing teachers up to standard and set a time limit to achieve this. Teachers, who still do not have the necessary qualifications after the time has expired, will have to be deregistered and barred from teaching. I don't have to make this call anymore, as the Minister has announced today that teachers will have to obtain the necessary qualifications by 2013. I want to congratulate the Minister on this announcement. It is a huge step forward.

The practice that teachers teach subjects for which they are not qualified should come to an end. We should expedite the reintroduction of teacher colleges that can improve the access to training facilities and make a major contribution to the training of enough teachers, especially for our primary schools.

Whether some of these former colleges were of a poor standard previously, is irrelevant. Our new colleges need to be of a high quality, well equipped with competent lecturers. The department should be commended for the bursary scheme that has been introduced for students who want to enter the teaching profession. We want to encourage more students to take up these bursaries and become teachers. We also need to make sure that our subject advisers at district offices are indeed competent to do the job they are supposed to do. Lastly, we should ensure that the shorter training courses that take place from time to time are indeed worthwhile and presided over by competent tutors; not people who know less about a subject matter than those they are supposed to lecture.

The literacy and numeracy levels of our learners remain a concern. This deeply affects the potential of our entire education system. Without the basics of literacy and numeracy, further educational achievement is severely compromised for any individual. If our children do not achieve this basic aim of schooling, schooling has failed dismally. Needless to say, this places a severe constraint on the potential for development of the economy and all other aspects of South Africa's social and political life.

Once again, the Department of Education has made good interventions towards improving the situation. But once more, we need to ask what is actually happening where the programmes – these good programmes and plans - hit the ground, as Prof Mayatula would like to put it. We need teachers who are in school, in class, on time, teaching, with the necessary training and tools.

Afrikaans:

Ons het 'n meer deeglike moniteringstelsel nodig om uitkomstes te meet, moontlik deur middel van openbare toetse. Soos 'n onderwyser onlangs in Die Burger skryf - en hieroor voel ek baie sterk- moet tafels, die alfabet, skrif en spellesse, woordsoorte en tye, weer ingedril word. Ons benodig distrikte wat in staat is om behoorlike ondersteuning aan onderwysers te bied, met genoeg kundiges op die gebiede van geletterdheid en syfervaardighede. Ons benodig goed befondse veldtogte om vir ouers die waarde van moedertaalonderwys te laat besef. Ons kan nie ouers dwing nie, maar as ons werklik ernstig is oor geletterdheid en die waarde van moedertaalonderwys in die verband, moet ons meer doen om ouers hieroor in te lig en te oorreed – te oorreed - dat moedertaalonderwys, minstens op laerskoolvlak, die beste vir hulle kinders is.

English:

And we need the National Mass Literacy Campaign, which will see 80 000 tutors engaged to enable 4,7 million adults to achieve basic literacy and numeracy, to be a resounding success.

Afrikaans:

Buiten daarvoor dat hierdie veldtog 'n nuwe wêreld sal laat oopgaan vir diegene wat daaruit voordeel trek en aan hulle menswaardigheid nuwe inhoud sal gee, sal dit ouers in staat stel om broodnodige ondersteuning aan hulle kinders te bied.

English:

In short, far from miracles, we simply need to get the basics right. Again, unions and provinces should do their bit to make this possible.

The ANC president says that education must be elevated from being a departmental issue, or even a government issue, to a societal issue; one that occupies the attention and energy of all our people. Let's join him, the Minister, and Deputy Minister in this vision and make it our mission to break the back of poverty, through education. Whether it is about time on task, making ourselves available to serve on a governing body or joining the mass literacy campaign, let's put education first.

Mr L M GREEN

END OF TAKE

Adv A H GAUM

Mr L M GREEN: Chairperson, hon Minister and members, Education is one of the most important Ministries if not the most important one for our government. Education received the lion's share of the national budget for this year. It is, as the Minister of Finance said in his Budget speech, and I quote, "central to our objective of broadening opportunities and fighting poverty".

The FD support this objectives, but for education to succeed teachers and learners must be at school eager to learn and teach and in an environment that is safe and conducive to human development. One of the key factors, if you want education to succeed, is to focus on feeding our children at all institutions of learning. A recent study conducted by the Human Science Research Council and University of Cape Town estimates that there are about 12 million children living in poverty in SA.

A study at UCT's Children Institute evaluating government's targeted mechanisms for alleviating poverty suggested that there are still problems with feeding schemes at primary schools. The money is there, it is being spent and yet our children are still going hungry.

Starvation affects learners at all institutes of learning. We read of many instances where pupils, either at high schools, universities and colleges are simple too hungry to fully participate in educational activities. Many live in hope of some food to carry them through to the next day; meanwhile, they painstakingly carry on with their education hoping for a better life.

The Minister of Finance has indicated that the school nutrition programme will grow by 30% over the next year and we do hope that our school feeding scheme will reach all targeted children so that no child will suffer educational deprivation as a result of starvation.

The FD suggested one possible way of tackling this problem is to create an education cluster system which may be seen as a social pedagogical model involving the Departments of Health, Safety and Security, Social Development and including and being led by the Education department to consolidate programmes centred on the education and human development needs of the child. Such a co-ordinated system will achieve more in alleviating some of our educational challenges than a fragmentary approach which requires assistance of other departments only at certain level of intervention.

The FD also believes that quintile policy must be scrapped and that free education must be available to all children at primary education level. The Minister in last year's Budget Vote speech said that, "offering all children free education will place us in step with modern democracy's worldwide". We support that 100%.

However, being a developing country and faced with high levels of poverty, free education for children is not an issue of modernity but necessity. Most of our parents do have the wellbeing of their children at heart, and they place a supreme value on the education of the children. By not paying school fees do not make parents out to be irresponsible; they would rather see that there is food on the table at night for the child. That is why poorer families do not keep up with the paying of school fees. [Time expired.]

Mr S SIMMONS

END OF TAKE

Mr L M GREEN

Mr S SIMMONS: Chair, hon Minister and colleagues, the American President Thomas Jefferson once stated that, and I quote, "A nation that hopes to be ignorant and free hopes for something that never was and never will be". This will be understood against the backdrop that the fact that at present the South African public school system is delivering functionally, literate Black African matriculants at a rate of 1 in 29 of those who enter our educational system. The functional literacy I refer to implies the ability to read and write necessary for everyday living and to be effective in the workplace.

The state is required by law to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to basic education along with all the other rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution. If it does not do so, it is acting illegally and can be brought before the courts for the purpose of obtaining legal redress. This form of help could include a declaration of rights and an order directing the education authorities to take the steps necessary to correct that which ails the system. This includes a supervision order that is claimable in terms of which the education authorities will be required to report back to the courts on the progress being made towards the realisation of the right to basic education for all at stipulated intervals.

There are many monumental problems and there are no quick fix solutions. The most enlightened and progressive provincial education departments are aware of the poor return the taxpayer is receiving on the investment in Education voted for in their budget each year.

Means of boxing better are being devised. Leadership training of staff in schools and management education is an effective way of introducing some positive energy. Organisational shortcomings, dysfunctional schools and the problems of teachers who do not teach, or do not know how to teach need to be addressed.

The phenomenon of violence and ill discipline at the school are obviously threats to improvements. The failure to insist on mother tongue education in the formative years is another factor that contributes to poor performance.

Parents who want their children educated in English will have to take responsibility for raising them from birth to speak and think in English. Failing to do so during the early education, is not in the best interest of each child and it will have to be in the mother tongue. A radical revision of the way of the way in which education is supplied at administered and delivered is needed if the situation is to be corrected. The nation is in peril of regressing if nothing is done.

The NA calls on the Minister to appoint an advisory committee to investigate the total overall of our educational system so that we are able to address the need of the economy and other spheres of society. I thank you.

Mrs D VAN DER WALT

END OF TAKE

Mr S SIMMONS

Afrikaans

Mrs D VAN DER WALT: Agb Voorsitter, Minister, Adjunkminister, DG, personeel en beste kollegas en aan al die onderwysers, leerders en leerlinge daar buite, alle kinders moet die geleentheid gegun word om hulle drome na te streef en hulle talente te ontwikkel. Die enigste sleutel hiertoe is onderwys.

English

A fully functional education system is central to the foundation of the DA's vision of an open society. Quality education and skills development are essential tools without which no one can be empowered to take charge of their own lives in a modern economy. Our central challenge is to deliver such a system to our people.

We all know that maths and science are key subjects in this regard and at present South Africa suffers from a distinct lack of skills in these areas. A transformation audit done in 2006 by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation reported that the country's top performing schools contribute 75% of the skills that South Africa needs, leaving thousands of our schools which produce matriculants with no valuable skills at all.

It is therefore encouraging to see some strong steps towards changing this situation. The Dinaledi schools project aims to increase maths and science at a higher grade level in underprivileged schools, and 500 schools will now be participating.

I would also like to praise two new learning centres opened recently by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences which the DA welcomes and fully endorses. This initiative is a wonderful illustration of a public-private partnership in action and shows that when independent institutions are given the space to do so, they can make a substantial contribution to the establishment of a better South Africa. The DA will monitor the various AIMS institutions and their progress with keen interest. I will also undertake to visit the new centres to see how it works and what further lessons we can learn from it.

Recently it was announced that a decision to close teacher training colleges made in the 1990s in the mistaken belief that it is more important to save money than to provide teachers, has been reconsidered. The DA welcomes this and we hope that we will now see some rapid progress in addressing our dire teacher shortage. The DA would also like to call for a national campaign to promote teaching as a profession. We believe that the Department of Education needs to become actively involved in making young people aware of the value of teaching as a career.

An excellent school is one which takes care of all the needs of the learner. It should make for everything that is lacking. And here I would like to specifically mention, as other colleagues did, the feeding scheme. Without sufficient food, no child can be expected to learn anything. What is shocking is that this Department has decided that only primary school learners qualify for the feeding scheme. It is absurd. Are impoverished learners beyond this age not allowed to get hungry?

South Africans speak 11 official languages. But these languages will not survive, unless they are protected.

Afrikaans

Dit is immers wat ons land se Grondwet waarborg in artikel 6(2) en 29(2). In artikel 6 word ook die mandaat vir PanSat duidelik uitgespel om die ontwikkeling en gebruik te bevorder en omstandighede te skep vir die ontwikkeling en gebruik van alle amptelike tale.

English

However, it saddens me to say that in reality government practice recognises only one.

Afrikaans

Leerders en studente moet 'n keuse hê, maar u departement bied tans geen keuses. Uiteindelik word alles en almal in een rigting gedwing: Engels.

English

At the University of Limpopo, Professor Ramani and her team who teaches contemporary English and multilinguistic studies, wants to expand on the Sesotho sa Leboa classes to include Tshivenda and Xitsonga as content courses. But due to lack of funds they cannot do so. Yet that are the languages spoken in the Limpopo province. She did previously secure funding from the Ford Foundation that has now run out. But my question is: Why is our government not supporting this very important work to enable people to study in their own language and afterwards being able to earn their income in their own languages?

Afrikaans

Hoekom, Minister, sluit u onderwysstudente wat Afrikaans as hoofvak neem, uit in u departement se gesogte Fundza Lushaka-beursfonds? Het u enige benul wat die uitsluiting aan die voornemende onderwysstudente, veral uit ons bruin gemeenskappe, se drome, ideale en toekoms doen? Waar gaan die Afrikaansonderwysers in die toekoms vandaan kom? Ek pleit werklik vandag by u om hierdie kriteria dringend te hersien.

English

As Dr Neville Alexander said in 2005:

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, it is not true that only monolingual countries have been economically successful in the modern world.

Afrikaans

Ek maak ook staat dat dit wanneer die projek deur agt universiteite se studente wat op 1 Mei begin het, naamlik die elf tale oor elf maande-projek, op u tafel beland, dat u dit ten volle sal ondersteun. Dit is 'n baie goeie inisiatief deur die jeug en ons vaders van môre.

English

Finally I would like to refer to a much neglected area of education and that is adult education. Legalised racism ended in 1994 and South Africa's children are growing up in a world where they have many more opportunities than they did under the apartheid system. But there are millions of South Africans who were too old for school education when apartheid laws were scrapped. They are now illiterate and innumerate adults in a world where even the most basic of jobs require a Matric certificate.

Afrikaans

Dit is vir dié mense se onthalwe wat ons dankie sê vir die R6 miljard wat bewillig is vir die Khu Ri Gude-veldtog. Minister, dit moet slaag – kruisies, wat tans dien as handtekeninge, moet plek maak vir `n eie volwaardige handtekening. Ek sluit af en ek wil vir u dankie sê. Ek hoop dat die dokument wat die DA by u kantoor afgelewer het op 1 April om professionalisme in onderrig te bevorder, positief deur bestudeer sal word en ook aandag daaraan sal gee. Ek dank u. [Applous.]

Mr B MTHEMBU

END OF TAKE

Mrs D VAN DER WALT

Mr B MTHEMBU: Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, hon members, our esteemed guests, when we were celebrating the 96th Anniversary of the people organisation, the ANC, on 12 January 2008, the leadership of the ANC made a call and I want to echo this call which was made by my colleagues, because we strongly believe that it is very important.

I want to say that education must be elevated from being a departmental issue or even a government issue but to be a societal issue, one that occupies the attention and the energy of all our people. Education is fundamental to the achievement of the society envisaged by the Freedom Charter. The vision of the Freedom Charter is a united South Africa which belongs to all people who live in it; a democratic South Africa based on the will of the people; a South Africa in which all people enjoy equal rights and human dignity regardless of gender, race, religion or any other irrational criteria; and a South Africa that is prosperous, at peace with itself and its neighbours.

The vision of the society we aspire to, seeks to heal the divisions of the past, to redress socioeconomic inequalities, abject poverty, deprivation and other developments. Through education people are able to realise the full potential in our society, which is a prerequisite for the successful achievement and enjoyment of all social and economic rights as contained in our Constitution.

The hon Minister has put it very clearly that education changes lives. It changes communities, and that is why we have elevated education as a priority. This is the context that gives rise to the elevation of education from being a departmental issue to a societal issue. The business of education must occupy the attention and the energy of all our people. The business of education is the business for all of us. The business of education is everybody's business.

In 1994 we began the long walk of reconstructing and developing our education system into a single system which is democratic, nonracial and nonsexist. Together we have made great strides in transforming the education system. We have achieved close to 100% Universal Primary Education, which the Minister referred to. We have achieved gender parity, and in some instances girls are performing much better than boys. We have a new curriculum that addresses socioeconomic needs of our country. Unfortunately the hon Pheko is not here, he seems not to be aware that there is a new curriculum that seeks to address the very same concern he has raised. Equally important is the introduction of the Further Education and Training [FET] which the Minister and the Deputy Minister have emphasised; huge resources that have been invested to ensure that we get the appropriate skills.

The issue of maths and science is been addressed by the Deputy Minister, which is one of the challenges that make us not to engage in these subjects which are key for technological development. We are not yet there despite all these achievements. There is no time to pause; the long walk is not yet over. In the relatively short period of our teenage democracy, we have learnt that changing an education system is a complex process and there are no short cuts.

One of the key challenges we are confronted with is the persistent unequal access to quality education in both the school and the higher education systems. This has sometimes been described as a true system of education running on the old racial classification. Previously disadvantaged communities continued to underperform while those who were advantaged are performing well.

Redressing the issue of access to quality education for all is a pressing challenge that must occupy the attention and energy of all our people. If we don't address this issue, we run the risk of reproducing the socioeconomic inequalities and injustices of the past. It is a pressing issue which needs to be addressed, and my colleagues have repeatedly raised this issue. The Minister said that there is a challenge, especially in the higher education - what she calls equity of outcomes. That is a challenge we need to address.

The business of education is every body's business. We all have a part to play, the government, the portfolio committee, the private sector, our communities, parents, learners and students we need to focus our attention and energy to do our best in executing our responsibilities, because only the best is good enough.

Because of time constraints, and I am happy that my colleagues have dealt much with the role of teachers, I want to concentrate on the role of the portfolio committee, because the business of education is also our business and the role of the executive and the government officials is also their responsibility. The first issue revolves around the implementation of the quality improvement and development programme.

This is a well-targeted quality improvement announced by the Minister of Education in 2006 through which the department seeks to intervene comprehensively in a targeted manner to address the seemingly persistent unequal access to quality education. The government has budgeted R12,5 billion to be used by provinces to address infrastructure backlogs, effective delivery of the new curriculum, management and leadership at both district and school levels as well as educator-learner and learning materials. These are the key issues which if addressed can create an environment whereby we can tackle the issue of unequal provision of quality education.

I want to appeal very strongly to the Portfolio Committee on Education that effective implementation of this programme has got a great potential of taking us forward, because we are dealing with key issues that are blocking us to break this cycle of moving in one direction, and the fact that R12,5 billion is a lot money. I think it is important that we engage provinces and make them accountable. I think it is time we move away from coming up with programmes and new concepts which while piloted and in the process of planning are stalled.

This is one programme that is well crafted, and we will ensure that it is implemented by provincial governments. I think we will make progress. We can't keep on lamenting over the unequal provision of quality education whereas there is R12,5 billion and a programme, since 2006, but no movement. We need to do something as the Portfolio Committee on Education, because the business of education is also our business. The business of education is everybody's business.

The second issue I want to deal with is the implementation of the Performance Management and Development System. This system was introduced in 2001. The key element of this system is to ensure that the executive authority and the senior management enter into a contract in terms of which the senior management commit themselves to translate the vision of the executive authority so that it can be implemented. It is a very important programme. In terms of this system, senior managers are employed on the basis of what they are going to do [output] and it is a contract, and employment is based on your output; a very important reform for the Public Service.

We want to move away from the old public administration which focuses on compliance with regulations to a public sector organisation which is focused on outputs, is people centred and focuses on results rather than compliance.

It is now almost six years, and this has not been done. What is worse according to the study conducted by the Public Service Commission regarding the implementation of this system in the provinces, it was discovered that 50% of the senior managers have never entered into any performance agreement. The question is on what basis were these people employed? How are we going to make them account? If this is not implemented by now, then we have a serious problem.

The Portfolio Committee on Education needs to halt those executives, because they constitute the provincial political leadership. We need to engage our colleagues in the provinces, because as the ANC we believe that an implementation of the Performance Management and Development System has a great potential to make sure that the strategic goals of government are being translated and effected.

Therefore, these are the two issues which I think we need to focus our attention on; and I think we have to do it. We appreciate the fact that the President in his state of the nation address said that by June, which is next month, all senior managers must have submitted their performance agreements with the Public Service Commission. This is not voluntary in terms of Cabinet decision, which was taken in 2000, it is mandatory because... [Time expired.] [Applause.]

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION

END OF TAKE

Mr B MTHEMBU

The MINISTER OF EDUCATION: Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking all Members of Parliament for their participation in this debate, and the guests for staying so long to listen to what – I'm sure they will agree – is a very important debate for South Africa.

I would like to begin by asking the hon member of the FF Plus to give me the name of the person who says I've said only the SA Students' Congress would be recognised at universities. I don't give instructions to Vice Chancellors. There are several of them here, and they can tell you that. I would like the name of this person because I might have to consider suing them.

I would also want to say to the hon member that I was fairly shocked to hear the hon member referring to our Constitution as a ``so-called nonracial Constitution'', the very Constitution that he swore to observe, obey and uphold. So, I am a little shocked, and I believe the hon member must examine his conscience.

On the matters that have been raised very cogently by hon members, I must say I'm encouraged that the lesson I've been trying to run in the four years of these debates - that education is not a political matter, it's a national matter - has now sunk in. We can write the test. I'm very happy about it. [Applause.] It's really very encouraging for the future.

I just want to thank the hon Van der Walt for mentioning the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences. I think is very important initiative. I'm very glad that when Mr Turok approached me concerning the programme, I agreed immediately to provide the initial operational funding, which then attracted the partners that we now have. It is a programme that involves 25 African countries and I hope it will grow beyond that.

I must thank the Vice Chancellors in all the universities of the Western Cape for the supportive role which they've played in the Aims programme, and it will produce the scientists and the nuclear physicists that the hon Pheko was looking for. I do consider all submissions very seriously, and once we've reached the conclusions, we'll make them known, obviously.

I do believe the pledge for schools is an important initiative that all of us should see some value in. Its intention is not to create robot learners, but to assist in the inculcation of values which will allow future South Africans not to refer to our Constitution as a ``so-called nonracial Constitution''. It is a pledge which we hope will assist our young people to become concerned about building a future South Africa that indeed will be nonracial, nonsexist and united in its diversity, as South African youth and adults in the future, rather different from those of the past who create some of the tensions on our campuses, which led to the events we saw a few months ago. That is the intention of the pledge.

There is no hostility in this Minister toward the Afrikaans language. In fact, I have encouraged schools to utilise mother-tongue instruction far more vigorously than many have done up to today. It is a resistance that I find in the system; it has nothing to do with the Minister. In fact, the language policy of schools is determined by the parent body through the school governing body.

Where I would fight would be where children are excluded because of a language policy. The notion that languages cannot allow for diversity of student body would be one that I would resist, and the use of mother tongue or any excuse for exclusion of one group or another is something, of course, that I would resist, but mother-tongue instruction is absolutely vital in education.

I commend the ANC for having mooted the idea of the National Education Campaign, and I look forward to all of us taking up the call and ensuring that the campaign lives. The campaign is rooted in the notion of people's education for people's power, and the power we want our people to take up is the power to change education in South Africa. [Applause.]

Our call and theme that education changes lives and education changes communities is a theme we want to infuse into the head of each of the persons in South Africa, so that each one of us becomes an education activist for quality education. Without that activism, we will never see equality education and we won't see unions changing. The unions must know from the community, from Members of Parliament, and from all of us that what we demand is in class, on time, teaching fully. The unions must be advocates of that, because if they are not, if all that they do is criticise, fight and agitate for remuneration, then they've lost the sense of change South Africa must see.

So, I do welcome that, for the first time today, in these benches, we hear some critical assessment of role that unions have played in advancing quality education. I must say there are many union leaders who are committed to the very values that we have espoused today, so it's not all unions.

Our provincial departments of education, the districts, must also play a role in proper administration. The MECs must execute the law properly; there are failings which we all have. I think if we could all be more thoughtful about what we do in education, we would see more success.

Many members have spoken about the school nutrition programme. We have increased funding this year, and we announced that through Minister Manuel in the February Budget Speech. All provinces have extended the school-feeding programme to every school day. Many provinces fed some days and not everyday; we are now feeding everyday. We are looking at this with Treasury, and government is discussing the extension to secondary schools, if funding allows, in this very year, because we do face this challenge of high food prices. So, we share the view of members in terms of the need to address this.

Finally, let me say, mention has made of textbooks and their selection and that we limit the requirements for schools. We do not. Schools, for purposes of examination, have to be ready to be examined on one novel, one play and 20 poems. They can study 50 novels. They are not limited, but for examination, that's they are required to be ready for. So, this notion that, when you set a minimum standard, that's what you should aim for is a nonsensical one. This fact that you need 30% to pass particular subjects doesn't mean you must aim for 30%; you should aim for 100%. If you aim for 30%, you are in trouble because there are children aiming for 90% and 100%. So, we need to articulate the quality perspective rather than fighting about these minor things that takes us nowhere.

I think it's important to state that we do have rewards for performance for teachers. If you perform well, we will reward you; if you perform even better, we will reward you more, and if you are outstanding, we will reward you three times. The occupation-specific dispensation states that.

So, Madam Deputy Speaker, I believe, on many of the issues, there's common ground. We are committed. What I want to see now is this commitment in this debate translated into activism on the streets. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Debate concluded.

The Committee rose at 17:02.

MS / END OF TAKE


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