Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 13 – Education
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 29 Jun 2009
No summary available.
EPC – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 Take: 148
TUESDAY, 30 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly
Chamber at 14:01.
The House Chairperson Ms M N Oliphant, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION
START OF DAY
Vote No 13 – Education:
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Chairperson, hon Minister of Higher Education, the Deputy Minister for Basic Education, other members of the executive present here, leaders of different political parties, hon members and guests who have honoured us here with their presence, the theme of my speech today is: Together achieving quality education and access for all.
In presenting this budget, I therefore draw on the manifesto of the ruling party, as informed by the resolutions adopted at Polokwane, as well as the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, of government and the President's state of the nation address. The underlying theme of all these is the fact that the ANC has declared education a top priority of this government and has declared that together we can do more.
In the 15 years of democratic rule, there have been significant achievements in education, especially with regard to access. A recent report by South African Child Gauge has noted that, as South Africa, we have achieved universal primary education in line with the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, and have also achieved gender parity in education. More children in our country are staying at school until matric, and it is estimated that about 85% of children are now receiving 12 years of education at schools or in colleges.
We are also taking steps towards improving the quality of education, as shown by the independently conducted annual national assessments. In 2008, the results in numeracy were some 30% higher than the 2007 ones. Much progress has been made in moving the system away from the precepts of apartheid education. As I said, more children attend school and more attend without the burden of school fees. More children participate in school nutrition programmes and in an expanded curriculum. More teachers and principals are exposed to in-service development than ever before. And more provision has been made to improve the infrastructure of schooling, especially in rural and poor areas. Despite all this, we want to acknowledge upfront, as the education department, that many challenges continue to haunt our system.
If we are to make true the instruction of our President that teachers should be in class on time and learners in classes should be studying, a number of things will have to be corrected in the next five years. Again, our approach is guided by a deep belief that together we can do more towards making education a societal matter.
The findings of Jonathan Jansen's report on the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, NEEDU, confirms what we all know: that in some quarters there is a lack of public confidence in our education system. This is what he had to say:
Throughout the country in each of the provinces, from government officials, unionists and teachers alike, the committee heard the strongest expressions of concern, often in very passionate terms, that there was an indisputable crisis in education, and that it needed to be resolved; indeed, it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the depth and intensity of concern among all education stakeholders.
The report goes on to say that:
This does not mean that there are not pockets or excellence within the school system, among districts, and even within provincial structures. The committee found striking evidence of exceptionality. Such observations, on the one hand, give cause for hope but, on the other hand, give cause of concern since the school system cannot be transformed as a system on the basis of exceptional performance among the few. It is fundamental to the vision of government that all schools - especially in disadvantaged communities – continue to perform optimally, because education is a priceless resource when trying to lift the standard and improve the practice of the rest of the education system.
Amongst, but not limited to the challenges that still haunt our system is the whole problem of accountability. School accountability tends to be weak, uneven and limited in scope. The accountability system is weak because of a pervasive culture of resistance to strong measures of accountability within the system and not only teachers should be singled out for attention, but the entire system: from schools, to school leaderships, to districts and provinces, including national departments.
Accountability must, of necessity, account for performance at all levels from the teacher, to the principal, to the governors, to the district, provincial and national authorities. While the teacher is undoubtedly the most important factor in our system, the extent to which the act of teaching is nestled within other supporting contexts cannot be overstated.
More importantly, we must ensure that there are always consequences in everything, in every action in our system. The fact that teachers should be on time, teaching daily and learners learning is non-negotiable. The teacher on time and teaching also needs to be assisted by ensuring that the system begins to confront some of the more fundamental problems in the system, which includes curriculum organisation and schools that are dysfunctional.
We are all aware of incidents where our schools lose valuable teaching time because of absentee teachers, incompetent principals, and underprepared district officials. The culture of teaching and learning has, for all intents and purposes, disappeared in most of our rural and township schools.
The teachers we want to be in class on time are also reported to be feeling overwhelmed by never ending external demands on their work that are making them resentful and sometimes distracted from their core function, which is teaching. Madam Chair, I can't overemphasise the importance of teachers' dedication, commitment, and work ethics. Time on task and careful use of time are key to quality instruction and quality outcomes.
There are quite a number of challenges, which include the socioeconomic challenges that the teacher in class on time and teaching will be confronted by and which she or he will have to attend to in order to get through to the learners, for example the high levels of poverty in our communities, youth criminality, hunger, malnutrition, drugs, violence, teenage pregnancy, and the list goes on. Again, as a committee, we have to develop measures to address this. Our President has also called on all of us, as a community, to be involved in education and make sure that education is everybody's business. Strong leadership is also one of the key elements that we, as the Department of Basic Education, are committed to looking at.
For historical reasons that are well-understood, the better-resourced schools and provinces are better able to support the education system and produce better educational outcomes. This, again, Madam Chairperson, is a major challenge for us. Despite the fact that we say, as this government, we have invested acceptable levels of resources in education; there is still a feeling amongst us and our communities that their proper utilisation or adequacy continues to be a challenge, and we need to find a way of ensuring that for all these resources invested by government, there is value for money.
There is no doubt that the economic downturn facing us is going to demand of us to use our resources more carefully and make sure that, indeed, they reach our learners. Schools in poorer areas remain underresourced. Science is being taught without laboratories, children share books and desks, and there continues to be overcrowding in the majority of our schools. Again, Madam Chair, we are committed to confronting all these problems which still haunt our system.
The curriculum, which is our core product in the delivery of education, is one of the areas that we will be attending to through the budget, because we do believe that our core in education is curriculum delivery. This is our product, and our success depends on it: its content and how it's packaged, issued, received and marketed.
My predecessor's report on schools that work confirms that in almost every school there are concerns that there are problems with the curriculum. Many of the people they interviewed mentioned that learners from primary schools arrived unprepared, and I am also aware that institutions of higher learning allege that learners that arrive at the institutions are ill-prepared. Again, I am saying that we will confront whatever problems are raised with us, be it true or perceptual, but we will take them as seriously as we can.
The challenges are not simple but, fortunately, with almost 15 years' experience as the ruling party, some of the challenges are known to us and are being addressed. In addition to the constantly mentioned challenges of alleged excessive paperwork, expensive demands of the curriculum, the risks of different interpretations, inadequate preparations of teachers to implement the curriculum challenges around classroom practices resulting in all sorts of problems, again, we are doing all we can and can indicate to this House that, starting from this month, we will be doing both investigations and holding public hearings on this matter. In the next four months, we will make sure that we identify areas of further work and make the necessary interventions so that come 2010, we will have adequately identified and addressed all the challenges and issues that have been raised by our communities and also by different stakeholders around curriculum challenges.
Through the establishment of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, we will not only evaluate schools and teachers but the entire system to make sure that we identify challenges and, working together with the different stakeholders, address whatever comes to us.
There is no doubt that there is a link between educational outputs and socioeconomic conditions. The South African historical and current socioeconomic dynamics continue to play a major role within our education system. Our schools systems, to a very large extent, are still shaped by their social and historical contexts of colonialism and apartheid. Because of this, our schooling system continues to be unequal, and we have a few public schools in South Africa, serving fewer learners, which are well endowed with impressive resources and facilities and produce superior academic results. On the other hand, we have desperately poor schools with very little to show in terms of academic performance.
The greatest consolation is that even within these challenges a number of schools have excelled beyond expectations. Leaders and educators in these schools appreciate the fact that our children's educational achievements cannot wait, and all children, despite their class, race, gender and location deserve good quality education now.
In moving to the areas of finances that we have been given by the department, I do want to indicate that in the current financial year we have been allocated quite generously by the state the following resources. With regard to the budget allocations for the financial year 2009-10, I can record with appreciation that the overall budget has increased by R2,4 billion. From R18,8 billion last year, we have been allocated R21,2 billion. [Applause.]
Additional funds have been received in the following areas. My colleague, Dr Nzimande, will speak more about subsidies that were increased that we have received for Higher Education and Training, but Basic Education can record that, for this budget year, we have been allocated R577 million, which is going to allow us to expand to quintile one secondary schools; that in addition to primary schools we are providing with food, we will be able to gradually introduce our school nutrition programmes to high schools in the poorest of areas. [Applause.]
Madam Chairperson, we have also been allocated R5 million to recapitalise our technical schools, and I think one of our guests, the principal from Atteridgeville who has always been raising the matter about technical schools, will be happy to hear that we will, from henceforth, begin a process of recapitalising our technical schools and this will be implemented over the next two years.
As I have said, my predecessor had established or had set up a commission which had to do investigations about the establishment of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit. In that regard, we have been given R6 million to begin to set up the process and the budget will increase in years to follow. I won't comment on the financial aid scheme. I think my colleague, Dr Nzimande, will refer to that. Because, as this government, we have committed ourselves to break the back of illiteracy, we continue to receive funds from the state, and we have been allocated R443 million for a mass literacy programme. We have been allocated R5 million for systematic evaluation programmes and, for the further development of the Education Management Information System, EMIS, we have been given R5,7 million.
Some existing programmes on the budget deserve special mention. One of these is the National School Nutrition Programme, which currently feeds 7,4 million in the country daily, at a cost of R2,3 billion as a conditional grant that we received as a department. We have also been allocated an additional R177 million, which will be used by provinces to provide relevant life skills programmes in all our schools. We believe that the decline in new infections amongst our young people can be, and we are confident that it is, partly attributed to this programme. However, the rising tide of teenage pregnancies continues to be a great concern, and we are committed to addressing it, identifying the problems and confronting the problems as we face them.
Teachers continue to be the most important resource in education. Teachers, that we want to be in class, teaching, continue to be a major focus of our programme and the most expensive and most valuable resources in the system. We have received an investment of about R700 million this year to support more than 9 000 teacher trainees.
I am pleased to record that together with the teacher unions, and other stakeholders, we have launched the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign, QLTC, of which a major part relates to the non-negotiables for different components of the system. For teachers, this involves being in class, on time and teaching, while learners have committed themselves to focus on learning, respect their teachers, and do their work. [Applause.] Departmental officials have promised to visit schools regularly, and to provide them with support, while parents, who have also signed to the campaign, have volunteered to ensure that all of us play our part. Put simply, if we all did our job as we should, we should see the quality of education improve by leaps and bounds.
These non-negotiables require two pillars of support. The first of these is an evaluation, which will evaluate all parts of the system, to unearth constraints and problems in ensuring quality education. The other pillar is that of effective leadership, a key component of the system. All the evidence, locally and internationally, shows that a good school has a good principal. I am proud to say that I have invited today Mr Timothy Mathopa, who comes from a school in Atteridgeville. He is accompanied by his wife. He is somewhere in the gallery. The story of Mr Mathopa is quite interesting and a testimony to saying that a good school needs a good leader. [Applause.]
Mr Mathopa is a true hero, representing many other principals. I think what he doesn't know that I can reveal to today is that when I visited his school while I was still an MEC, I was told by the district director that Mr Mathopa is a very difficult teacher, constantly fighting his former principal, this one he doesn't know, of poor leadership, lack of commitment and dedication to his work, and the district, being tired of always intervening in his and the principal's fights, decided to punish him and give him the worst school in the province. When he inherited the school, it had a zero percent passing rate. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms F I CHOHAN / End of take
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION
Ms F I CHOHAN: Chairperson, you will excuse me for not observing protocol and using my time instead to just recognise the fact that today is a very special day for one of the senior members of the department, Mr Phillip Benadé, the Chief Financial Officer, CFO. It's his last day at work today. He is going on retirement after an illustrious career.
And I am sure on behalf of all of us here today; I want to extend my sincere appreciation for the wonderful service he has given to this country over a long period of time. [Applause.]
He has assured me that he has put systems in place to ensure that the nonqualified audit continues in the department. I want to take this opportunity to just say to him that if this ever changes during my term as the portfolio committee Chair, that I have it on good authority and I've checked that I have the power to pull him out of retirement immediately to sort out whatever happens. But thank you very much and best wishes to you and your family. [Applause.]
It being an election year, the programme of Parliament during this budget cycle has to be compressed and rushed. Therefore, I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, as well as members of both committees for the co-operation and support during this rather frenzied time.
In the brief time that I have assumed this portfolio, I can relate to what the Minister asserted in her speech just now. Education has layers of challenges, many of them stemming from our past and many of them pertaining to our collective future.
Indeed, it is correct to say that no other field of endeavour in government is so vitally connected to the destiny of this country as the department headed by the two Ministers here today.
In recognition of the fact that the success of a nation is inalienably linked to the success of its education system. The ANC fought this election campaign on the basis that education will be a priority of this government.
We must seriously ask ourselves what it means to make education a priority. There must be an implication as to how all of us here - politicians and officials alike approach our work. To make a matter national priority must mean that we don't continue in the usual way. It must mean that certain extraordinary ways must be found to deliver our promises.
It must necessarily mean that we hone in on what we hope to achieve and single-mindedly work towards the attainment of very clear goals. Of course, one such extraordinary measure has been to develop dedicated areas of focus for both basic and higher education. And by this doing government said that both these matters require extraordinary effort and creativity to afford our future generations the best opportunity to succeed as citizens of the 21st century.
But some other things also need to change. Firstly, the governance of the system as a whole requires a closer look. Education is indeed a concurrent power and as such, the budget that is eventually realised at the level of each province is firmly within the discretion of the Provincial Treasury.
The potion of the budget dedicated to provinces for education by National Treasury is often not appropriated to education in the province despite prior discussions held between all relevant stakeholders. This is because of competing interests in the provincial sphere.
If, as the ANC has committed itself during the elections, we are to make progress in building schools, developing our teachers and ensuring that our learners receive quality education. We must seek to align this national budget process to reflect eventual outcomes in the provinces.
But this is not enough, we must also unpack what it means for instance when we talk about a quality education. A recent independent study which was conducted by the HSRC and the University of Cape Town recently concluded that, like many other countries in the world, we are facing a problem with literacy, particularly at Grade 4 level.
It should not be left to outside bodies to tell us what is going on in our schools. We should be the first to pick up on these matters and devise solutions to fit what is empirically supported by evidence.
We should know today how many learners are likely to write the matric exam in the year 2020 and we must start planning for that occurrence. We should know on average how many times learners repeat a Grade in our schools. We should know which teachers have high incidences of students who fail in their classes so that appropriate and timely interventions are made.
More and more, government is looking to making gain in areas that are supported by empirical data and analysis thereof. With the new National Planning Commission and Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration Ministries, governance is going to depend on accurate information being acquired by individual Ministries.
While education is indeed a concurrent power, we must give due credence to Chapter 3 of the Constitution and in a co-operative manner ensure that there is a single system of data gathering and sound analysis that is specific to every geographical location in the country.
There must be a uniform system that feeds into the national domain from each province from which government can extrapolate trends and foresee crises wherever they occur.
One must acknowledge, as the Minister has, that there have been some achievements. Currently there is a specific programme entitled systems planning in the department and already in 2007 some stats have been made public. These require detailed analysis.
For example, one of the things that is apparent from this analysis is that as of 2007 there were 6 million odd learners in 15 000 primary schools and there were 191 199 primary school teachers. At the same time, there were about 6 000 secondary schools, 128 000 high school educators and 3,8 million high school learners.
At a glance, these figures should be very worrying to us because it is clear that in the next four years we are going to have a serious shortage of high schools and of high school teachers, unless of course we have a massive drop out rate which is not something that we are planning for. Of course, these stats need to be extrapolated for where, geographically speaking, these problems are projected to occur.
Overcrowding and high teacher to learner ratios as you said, Minister, are crucial to addressing this matter of a quality education. If we were to, in this term, lay detailed plans to rid ourselves of this phenomenon the Ministry of Basic Education will have dealt a significant blow to this great legacy of apartheid education.
All of this, I must hasten to add, is not to say that there has not been significant achievements previously. As the Minister indicated, we have for the first time in the history of this country the highest enrolments in schools. This is a tremendous achievement.
For example, in 1996, 49% of six-year olds were at school. By 2007 this had increased to 91%. This is not an unremarkable achievement. And I want to say that I realise that as much credit goes to government as it does to our teachers, most of whom are actually wonderful and treasured asserts to the country.
Many of them work under enormously trying conditions. They have to be teachers, social workers and parents. Everyday many dedicated South Africans wake up, go to school on time and teach to the best of their ability. More and more, we should recognise their efforts and be geared as government to support them in their singularly important task. After all, they are the people who are moulding our nation.
I wish to take this opportunity this afternoon therefore to dedicate this input to the memory of two teachers, freedom fighters and whose lives were brought to a tragic finality during the darkest days of our struggle and to whom this country owes an enormous debt, the late Matthew Goniwe and the late Ahmed Timol. I thank you for your attention. [Applause.]
Mr W G JAMES / End of take
Ms F I CHOHAN
Mr W G JAMES: Chairperson, hon members, I will restrict my comments to higher education. I would like to start off by mentioning that the Nobel laureate Sydney Brenner once remarked that the one thing he learnt from dialectical materialism is that one cannot learn about the inner workings of complex systems by looking at how they break down and how they disintegrate. I take from Brenner the very important point that we must build on what works and fix what does not rather than destroy what works and fail to act on what does not.
There is a lot of strength in the higher education system. It is, though, under stress to meet two very important demands. The first demand is to grow a critical mass of graduate students mentored by a highly skilled professoriate in research environments that anticipate the challenges of the 21st century, including subject areas like climate change, global warming, pathogenic threats to health, food security, global governance design and social architecture that is required to have decent human habitation in a changing climate system.
Rapid growth of our graduate population to PhD level can occur at the five and possibly six high-end research universities we have if, however, undergraduate teaching responsibilities are reduced and resources normally used to deal with underprepared students are diverted to basic cost items.
The second demand is to respond to the increasing legitimate requirement for places at lower cost for undergraduate education. Parents across the country hold hopes and dreams that their children can successfully complete high school and go to university. It is factually true, on a material level, that completing high school would double one's income in the course of one's life and having a bachelor's degree would quadruple one's income in the course of one's life. This is simply speaking about material rewards. Education, of course, is also about having the knowledge to master one's environment through one's lifecycle. So, it is ultimately also about freedom through education.
To make all of these possible, we would recommend that the other universities, that is, the rest of the universities after the five or six high-end research universities, be consolidated as undergraduate ones specialising in a four-year long degree. This includes the so-called universities of technology. I say "so-called" because they are not quite universities of technology. This is an aspiration rather than a reality. We also recommend that the six undergraduate universities located in rural areas should specialize in agriculture, environmental science, food security, land reform and the social science and economics of a modern agrarian society.
Dr Cheryl de la Rey, of the Council on Higher Education brought to our attention, unsurprisingly to everybody else, the fact that small class sizes and decent functional residences - and I want to underline this - contribute mightily to success rates. To achieve smaller class sizes requires a doubling in the lecturing staff at universities. Functional residences are particularly important to those students whose home environments are not conducive to learning. Just be a black student at the University of Cape Town and have to travel home, say for example, to Khayelitsha and back. This undermines the capacity to learn.
I do not believe that there have been any significant capital expenditures on university residences over the last 15 years. Some universities have done what they could when it comes to maintenance. But speak to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fort Hare and he will tell you that their residences are in fact slums. If it has not done so yet, the department should conduct an audit of the residences with the view of systematically investing in them to become decent places of living and learning.
We were greatly disturbed by the fact that the National Student Financial Aid System, NSFSA, had difficulty spending R49,5 million at university level and R12,7 million on the further education and training level when it comes to student bursaries. Universities declare; universities do the spending; and universities make the awards to students. Universities declared that they could not find enough students to meet the standard criteria.
A parent who earned too much money – it's not a lot of money, but too much money for bursary purposes - to have her son qualify for a bursary, but too little to borrow from a bank recently approached me for help. On the basis of this one particular case, we would suggest that the national student aid should revise their criteria to include academically capable students as far and wide as their fund permits. It is unacceptable that funding set aside for student bursaries is in fact not spent.
There is a bottleneck in our high school graduation performance, as we all know. In the area where the need is greatest, in the sciences in my view, we are doing rather badly. Of a total of 297 417 students who wrote the Life Sciences Grade 12 examination in 2008, 39,6% passed at 40% and above and 70,5% passed at 30% and above. Bursaries or free education will not fix this problem, only better schooling will do.
Universities are the intellectual store of a nation. They are the incubators of new ideas. We invest the taxpayer's money in a lecturing population whose purpose it is to advance the frontiers of knowledge by anticipating the future and immersing our children, the future generations of South Africa, in knowledge about our place in the universe.
Two things follow from this. Firstly, new ideas are about innovation. Therefore, it is better for universities to be combined with science and technology rather than with the sector education training authorities, Setas - bodies that are in any event dysfunctional and incapable themselves of serving the very important goal of advancing industrial skilling.
Secondly, we propose to spend R17 498 billion in this budget on universities in this coming financial year and, if one adds, private and public expenditure on research and development. This vital area propels the knowledge economy. The role of the higher education sector is therefore crucial in dragging our country out of recession. I would like to cite two responses globally on this particular score for your interest. Firstly, Germany, where an additional US$25 billion - at today's exchange rate it is about R200 billion - will be pumped into universities over the next 10 years. The money will be used to fund research, enhance university competitiveness and to prepare for a rise in student numbers.
Secondly, is the state of California, which has unfortunately cut the famous University of California system by US$800 million of a US$3,2 billion budget and the undergraduate state university sector by US$580 million of a US$2,7 billion budget. We believe that we should follow Germany, though, of course, we do not have the material base for that quantum of spending.
As they say in church, here endeth the lesson. But I just wanted to point out for those of you who are interested in why Sydney Brenner took a course in dialectical materialism at the University of Witwatersrand in the 1930s and 40s. That is because it was required at the University of Witwatersrand in the 1930s and 40s for all science and medical students to take a course in the philosophy of science. [Interjections.] Thank you very much. [Time expired.]
Ms N Y VUKUZA-LINDA / End of take
Mr W G JAMES
Ms N Y VUKUZA-LINDA: Madam Speaker, the Congress of the People would like to congratulate both Ministers on their respective appointments. We look forward to working with you in this noble mission of landscaping human resource for the country.
About 13 years ago, I, Minister for Higher Education, together with my colleagues in higher education, presented in front of you what is now the Higher Education Act when you were Chair of the Education Portfolio Committee. Today I stand in this House in the opposition benches, speaking to you, as Minister of Education, wanting to ensure that the contents of that Act are enacted. The question for me and you is: What happened in the 13 years we were missing in action?
Education has gone through a series of changes since 1994, from one slogan to the next; from "The culture of learning and teaching in the 90s" to the current "The teacher must teach, the learner must learn" slogan of today; which all show the same intention, except that, unfortunately, that intention is not coupled by consistent input.
I-Cope iyathemba ukuba noko singakhe sizole ngoku...
... that we could concentrate, focus and influence the outcomes that we would like to see.
If we place education, and rightfully so, within the context and the locus of economy, and if we call it the knowledge economy, as Dr James, has called it, and if we want to contribute to a sustained economy, then education needs to behave and operate the way other economies behave and operate.
If education centres must be seen as centres of production of knowledge, they must, therefore, produce what the economy needs, at the right time the economy needs it. It must, like industries, package the right mix in the curricula. The Minister for Basic Education has mentioned here, the issue of ethical behaviour. I venture to suggest that the curricula must include ethics at a school entry level, seeing where the country is sometimes tempted to go. It must distribute the right quantities of learners and teachers; deliver a quality product that is competitive, in other words a certificate from Fort Hare must get the same place in the economy as a certificate from Wits. [Applause.] It must also trade at the right platforms. It is now a good thing, because we have a Department of Planning, and so I think that together we can, with precision, plan and landscape the skills that we want to have for this country.
I would urge that education be seen as a chain from production to retail; linking primary education to secondary schooling; linking secondary schooling to high school; linking high school to colleges or universities, and then linking that to the market place. Any supply chain manager will tell you that the chain is as strong as its weakest link. The failures of primary schooling cannot be fixed at tertiary institutions. The failures of tertiary institutions cannot be fixed at the market place, and that is why, Minister Motshekga, you need to lay and relay that very firm foundation at basic education level. And that is what Professor Njabulo said in the Mail & Guardian when he said that: "The lower levels of education represent the greatest strategic need in our country."
Over the last two weeks we have been listening to the Department of Education and its agencies presenting budgets and plans to us. The plans, like most of them, are commendable and they make the right noises, but I get worried when plans do not talk about the future that we can all envision. The question is, Mr Minister of Higher Education: What is the national grand plan for higher education in the next five years, and what is the execution strategy?
The absence of such a plan coupled by the absence of a national design for education that is congruent to the current and future needs of this country makes for the misfit and disconnection between the technicons and the economy. We expect, therefore, Ministers to provide a roadmap of what we want to achieve. I think that the Chairman for Basic Education has alluded to this. We need to understand how many learners we want to produce at what level of schooling, so that there is a calculated flow from primary to secondary; a calculated flow from secondary to high school; a calculated flow from high school to colleges or universities and a calculated flow to the economy. Alongside this, there will be bottlenecks that we will need to fix and eliminate.
Speaking of wastage, we need, in education, a tracking system for the learners who enter the education system. There are learners who, when they have entered the system, especially at tertiary level, are missing in action. There are learners who are missing in production. Where are they?
Baninzi abantwana abalahlekayo...
... in the system and we are unable to account for them. Who is accountable for the missing children in the system? Fortunately, Minister Motshekga has spoken about accountability and I thought that this will be taken to its logical conclusion. In other words Ministers...
... ngeba ndithi...
... you need a strike team, but I'm afraid as the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, and the South African Democratic Teachers' Union, SADTU, might take me literally and take to the streets. [Laughter.] Again,...
... ngeba ndithi...
... we need a crack team, but again, I might be taken literally as introducing drugs to your team, but we need a dedicated, passionate and focused team that will make that kind of intervention. That will ensure that education is a producing industry.
Lastly, hon Minister, the Mail & Guardian of 19 June says you must be a worried man; I think they are right. To me, you should be worried about a lot of things, including the universities in rural towns and the academics and students in those universities. The state of rural towns and their appalling service delivery record makes for very unattractive destinations. They make for a brain drain and they perpetuate poverty in rural areas. You need to make the conditions in which these universities function conducive. There is merit, therefore, in a conversation between you and the Minister for Rural Development in this regard.
Given the above considerations and more, and given the fact that the Minister for Basic Education has really been grateful for the March budget that she has been given, indeed, the budget for education takes the biggest slice of the national budget of this country. Therefore, we trust that in your own hands, the future of this country is safe. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms N GINA / End of take
Ms N Y VUKUZA-LINDA
Ms N GINA: Chairperson, Minister of Basic Education, Minister of Higher Education, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, ladies and gentlemen, the African National Congress has made education and training a priority. The aim is to marshal our collective strength to ensure progressive realisation of universal schooling, improving quality education and eliminating disparities. This campaign will then demand major renewal of our schooling and education system. Chairperson, allow me before I even continue with my debate, to acknowledge the contribution of all the previous Ministers of Education, starting with Dr Sibusiso Bhengu, Dr Kader Asmal, and Minister Naledi Pandor for the miles we have travelled in laying the good foundation of our children's education.
I am sure that as I am speaking, I am speaking on behalf of our education portfolio committee, and what I say is we will work very hard in improving on that good foundation they have laid, working together with our executive in the basic education, feeding to the higher education.
Chairperson, the ANC-led government has recorded significant achievements since 1994 in transforming our schooling system from its apartheid past. Access to primary and secondary schooling has reached near universal enrolment, with the participation of girls the highest in the world. Participation rate of children aged four and five, I'm talking of the category of Grade R and the reception class, in early childhood has now reached 70%. However, the most fundamental challenge we face is the need to improve the quality of education in our schools, with emphasis on effective teaching of literacy and numeracy in most of our primary schools.
There is a general consensus that a child who does not learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, will clearly be at a serious disadvantage in all future educational efforts. The critical feature of our developmental state is its ability to lead the skills revolution that is intended to build and develop a human capacity that can respond to the demands of our economy. Therefore, the care and development of infants and young children must be the foundational point in our new society and the starting point for our human resource development strategy.
General access to early childhood development, ECD, will constitute an important step towards lifelong learning. The ultimate goal of early childhood development is to improve young children's capacity to develop and learn.
Chairperson, the government spending on early childhood development was just shy of a billion rand in 2007. Increased spending was set to reach R1, 5 billion in 2008. The allocation is projected to rise to R2, 9 billion. In addition to this is the national schools nutrition programme which feed 1, 6 million school children every day, including all those attending primary schools in 13 rural and eight urban poverty nodes.
We have already seen the positive effects of ECD programmes and their potential to change the development trajectory of children by the time they enter school. A child who is ready for school has less chances of repeating grade, being placed in special education or being a dropout. That is the reason why, as the ANC, we are saying we need to lay a good foundation for us to prevent all this.
Education for our children must not only be left to educators and caregivers. ECD intervention include educating and supporting parents, delivering services to children, developing capacity of caregivers and teachers and using mass communications to enhance parents' and caregivers' knowledge and practices. Programmes for children can be centre or home-based, formal or nonformal, and can include parent education.
According to the revised 1996 census statistics, it is estimated that approximately 10 million children fall within the age range of birth to 9 years. It is this group of children that are the focus of the ECD policies. Approximately 40% of young children in South Africa grow up in conditions of abject poverty and neglect, with rural African families being hardest hit.
Children raised in such poor families are most at risk of infant death, low birth weight and underdeveloped growth, poor adjustment to school, increased repetition and school dropouts. This factor makes it even more imperative for the Department of Education to put in place an action plan to address the early learning opportunities of all learners, but especially those living in poverty.
Timely and appropriate interventions can reverse the effects of early deprivation and minimise the development of potential problems to our children. Ours is to break the cycle of poverty by increasing access to early childhood development programmes, particularly for poor children. We cannot afford to continue to deny our children their constitutionally protected right to grow up in dignity and equality.
There is a growing amount of evidence that the largest part of brain development happens before a child reaches three years old and that it is during this period that children develop the abilities to think, speak, learn and reason and lay foundation for their values and social behaviour as adults. Moreover, there is also growing evidence that children are capable learners and that suitable educational experiences during preschool years can have a positive impact on their school learning.
While there is growing consensus that what happens during these early months and years have dramatic consequences for the rest of childhood and adolescence, our children across the country are most neglected in our policies, programmes and budgets. In our view, the time of early childhood development should merit higher priority attention.
The challenge of ECD provision in South Africa is one of access of equity, and audits conducted by the department reveal that approximately 75% of ECD provision is fee based, unlike the case with primary school where fees play a relatively small role compared to public funding. The financial burden for ECD falls disproportionally on the poor; the department must take a serious look into this.
Our Constitution provides that every child has a right to basic nutrition, shelter, basic healthcare, social services and to be protected from maltreatment, neglect, abuse and degradation. It is on this basis that we have resolved to place our children's education as the paramount importance in every matter concerning our children.
Chairperson, early childhood development remains one of the most powerful means of accelerating education for all. Early childhood development is the first essential step towards achieving primary completion. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr A M MPONTSHANE / End of take
Ms N GINA
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Chairperson and hon Ministers. The enthusiasm that has been shown by both the hon ministers is welcome indeed but put enthusiasm aside our education system remains a skorokoro type of a system-it's repair, start, push, start and push again. The system is characterised by very serious policy weaknesses. For instance, the IFP has always argued that the successful implementation of the new curriculum depended on two conditions. These are: teachers with sufficient subject knowledge and well-resourced schools. Yet, these two remain to trouble our system.
The recent studies have shown that with the closure of Training Colleges, the number of teacher graduates has dropped from 70 000, in 1994 to 6 000 in 2006. Put this together with teacher attrition which is currently estimated at 17 000 to 20 000 each year. This is a crisis which needs an urgent attention. And that is why we urge that: please do not delay, open up Colleges of Education now.
And, off course, it is important to look after our teachers who are already in the system, by paying them well and on time. Quality education is what we all want but the system is failing thousands and thousands of our children. All these, I want to argue that are caused by wrong policy choices and at times by ideologically driven transformation.
Let me refer to some of these policies, which deployment policy is one of them and let me say this right now that we are not in principle opposed to deployment. For example, I acknowledge that my friend, the hon Minister Nzimande is here as a political commissar of his party. We find nothing wrong with that deployment. But, this policy of deployment has given rise to many educational evils.
Let me mention a few of them: Firstly, the educational agenda is sometimes or in fact most of the times subjected to political agenda of the ANC which is not always the best agenda. Secondly, secondly... [Interjections.] Listen please, you are the democrats, you must listen, you must not be too intolerant... secondly, unsuitable and incapable people are placed into crucial and strategic positions.
Uyazi ukuthini, uboke uhambele lapho kwenziwa khona inhlololwazi kubantu abazofuna umsebenzi, uyaye uzwe umuntu ethi: heyi mina ngiphethe i-mandate. Kusho umuntu nje ongenamsebenzi, uthi yena uphethe i-mandate ka-ANC ...
... he wants to be employed. [Applause.] Now, with all the money in the world, how does the department hope to achieve quality education if it is still saddled with such defective deployment policies? Secondly, I want to refer to policy half measures. In an attempt to introduce free and compulsory education, the department has resorted to measures which have instead of delivering quality education, perpetuated educational inequalities. So, what must be done? We propose the following: Firstly, please do away with... I am surprised these people call themselves democrats but they are very intolerant when it comes to arguments. Firstly, do away... [Interjections.]
The CHAIRPERSON: Order, hon members!
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Am I protected, Chairperson?
The CHAIRPERSON: Hon members! Yes, hon member, you are protected. Order, hon members!
Mr A M MPONTSHANE: Firstly, I am referring to half measures which are perpetuating inequalities in our education system. Firstly, do away with no-fees school policy; instead introduce education which is completely free and compulsory up to Grade 12. Thereby ... [Time expired.]
Ms C DUDLEY / End of take
Mr A M MPONTSHANE
Ms C DUDLEY: Chairperson, hon Ministers, education's significance in reducing poverty and accelerating long term economic growth, demands that it continues to utilise the largest portion of the national budget. The ACDP supports higher education and training plans to expand educational opportunities for pupils who pass matric through an expanded college sector, focusing on more teacher training sites, agriculture, nursing and the training of artisans.
We also note the expressed intention of the department to expand the school nutrition programme to high schools, reduce class sizes and increase the access of five year old grade R learners. The ACDP believes it is going to be important that the portfolio committee monitors progress on these crucial aspects.
One of the major problems with education today is that teachers are not allowed to be teachers. They are inundated with administration. Lesson plans for every lesson, marking, assessments and never-ending forms to fill in. Our children are assessed and assessed again, but they are not being taught. This rigid control dilutes the unique teaching ability of individual teachers and our children have become statistics and not learners. In view of reports that the department intends providing teachers with laptop computers worth R3 billion, which is being made available over the next five years; how does this impact on this year's budget?
The ACDP is pleased to see teachers being brought into the IT environment, but has the department considered teachers' concerns that laptops will invite criminals into schools? One only have to lived in Acacia Park for a while to understand the reality of this. Laptops will invite criminals into schools, putting teachers' and learners' lives at risk of violence of even death. For most rural schools homework on a laptop will be out of the question because of the personal safety of teachers who walk to work. Has the department allocated funds to strengthen the level the safety in schools and the provision of strong rooms, a vital appendage to any computer roll-out.
Whilst costs for laptops are one thing, costs for usage are another. Until internet and data usage come down, this could be a very expensive exercise for government and/or teachers. The ACDP also cautions government not to think that computers will make OBE succeed, when you know it is flawed and a failed system.
The capping of school fees is a highly contentious issue and should not be entered into lightly. The consequences, both positive and negative, must be soberly weighed. So often interventions that appear to be obvious solutions have unintended consequences and we cannot afford to discover the dangers of this policy after damage is done. A recent survey by Statistics South Africa has revealed that a significant number of children between the ages of seven and fifteen have either never attended school or have dropped out for various reasons. According to the survey, Gauteng, Western Cape and Northern Cape have the highest number ... The ACDP will support this Budget Vote. [Time expired] [Applause].
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING / End of take
Ms C DUDLEY
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson, the Minister of Basic Education, the honourable Angie Motshekga Deputy Minister of Basic Education, the honourable Enver Surty, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Basic Education, the honourable Fatima Chohan, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Higher Education and Training, honourable Marius Fransman, honourable members, our invited quests, friends, comrades and fellow citizens.
Our theme this year is "together achieving and expanding quality and access to education and training for all." Quality education and training properly delivered, changes lives and makes it possible to achieve our vision of a better life for all our citizens.
It is within this context that I wish to acknowledge the presence of my family and in particular my 82 year old mother ... [Applause.]
uMadlamini, Jamakasijadu, umama ongizalayo, yena olapha eNdlini namhlanje. Ngifisa ukubonga kuwe Zizi ngokuzabalaza kwakho usikhulisa, usifundisa sibe singenalutho.
In tribute to her commitment to our education and tremendous sacrifice she made in financing our studies through the loan sharks, I commit, in the context of the task I have been given by the President, to strive to ensure that, in line with the African National Congress manifesto, no poor but capable young person is excluded from post-school educational opportunities and be exploited by the loan sharks. [Applause.]
The past fifteen years have seen some extraordinary changes in education and training. We have managed to achieve one of the millennium development goals of universal participation in primary schooling. We have also significantly changed the face of our universities, where black and women students are now in the majority. We have similarly started the revival of our college sector and introduced a national skills development strategy through the Sector Education and Training Authorities.
While we have made significant progress in terms of opening the doors of learning through increased access to previously disadvantaged students into the whole education system, because we are the ruling party with experience as the African Congress which leads this government; we are open to say the challenges remain immense, particularly regarding post-school education.
Our predecessor Minister Naledi Pandor, established the Ministerial Committee on post-compulsory and post-school provision to investigate and make policy recommendations on providing for a greater diversity of post school education and training options for South Africa. The report paints a bleak picture of our society.
Many young people do not complete high school and of those who do, many cannot proceed with their studies because of the poor quality of their achievements, lack of resources or the lack of job opportunities.
The report estimates that of the approximately 2.8 million of the 6 million or so, of the 18 to 20 year olds in our country are neither in employment, nor education or training. This implies that over 40 percent of our youth are not productively engaged. This is a huge wastage of human potential and a squandered opportunity for social and economic development.
Therefore, one of our immediate tasks is to create a diverse and differentiated post school system to provide a diverse range of learning opportunities for youth and adults. This system will be realised through, amongst others, the improved alignment of the university, college and Sectoral Education and Training Authority, SETA, systems. That means we must all be careful, higher education does not equal to universities, it includes but is more than just universities.
In this regard, the scope of the new Department of Higher Education and Training will cover all public and private higher education institutions, colleges and the skills development sectors, which include the Setas and the National Skills Authority and the National Skills Fund, NSF.
To this end, I and the Minister of Labour are currently finalising the modalities and necessary legislative instruments to give effect to the decision of government to transfer skills development from the Department of Labour to my Department of Higher Education and Training.
Working closely with the relevant Ministries, I also intend to establish a coherent college sector which includes the 50 FET colleges, Further Education Training and other career specific colleges such as agricultural, nursing and teacher colleges, with agricultural colleges in particular being very crucial for rural skills development.[Applause.] Similarly, in the coming months, I will be working with my colleague the Minister of Basic Education and the nine provincial MECs to ensure the smooth transfer of the FET Colleges from provincial departments to the Department of Higher Education and Training.[Applause.]
Today we are discussing the consolidated budget of the Department of Education, as no appropriation has as yet been made to the new Department of Higher Education and Training. In future, the new Department of Higher Education and Training will be responsible for allocations to higher education institutions estimated at R19.9 billion in 2010, skills development through Setas and the NSF, National Skills Fund, the latter estimated at R21.9 billion in 2010 and FET Colleges estimated at R3.37 billion in 2010.
The current budget of the Department of Education to be specific includes the allocation of R17.498 billion to higher education, incorporating subsidy and earmarked funds for universities of R15.297 billion, an allocation of R2.144 billion to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, R32.6 million to the Council on Higher Education and R3.2 billion to FET Colleges, through the provincial equitable share for education.
With regard to skills development, the Seta landscape is currently under review ahead of the proposed re-establishment of Setas on 1 April 2010. In my view, there is a need for an intensive assessment of the Setas to ensure greater accountability, improved employment of resources, better management of funds and streamlining and alignment of their operations in order that they fulfil their role as a central cog of our skills training and job creation machinery. I will shortly be engaging the Setas to examine these issues and enhance their capacity to meet the skills needs of South Africa. There should be no panic amongst the Setas; we will engage them nicely, Mr Ellis, in my typical way, I am a very nice man as you well know about that. [Applause.]
The field of adult education and training needs re-invigoration and dedicated focus in the coming period. To this end, my department will be finalising a draft White Paper towards the end of the year which intends proposing a range of measures to enhance and expand further and higher education and training opportunities for adults. In addition, the department will be finalising a proposed "matric" equivalent qualification appropriate for adults, through amongst others strengthening policy on recognition of prior learning.
Chairperson, I was convinced this weekend that our high school system is based on a programme that was designed and adopted in 1850 in the Cape Education Department then. There is no reason why a forty year old person who's got 12 years experience, who did not get matric exemption, if that person wants to move to higher education must be asked to go back and rewrite matric given all that experience. That is the system we are practically still following and that must change; we need to incorporate recognition of prior learning without lowering standards in our education system. [Applause.]
Given the enormous challenges facing our youth, it is important that we strengthen and expand our colleges and make them institutions of choice. Particular focus will be placed on improving governance and management capacity as well as training of college lecturers and improving the skills of existing cohort of lecturers through universities and industry.
Colleges will continue to provide general and specific vocational education and training and an important route for artisan training. In this regard, I intend exploring innovative measures that will strengthen the link between colleges, local communities and industries, in particular state owned enterprises.
It is still our intention to increase the student enrolment at Further Education and Training colleges to at least 1 million by 2015. I also intend improving student articulation between the college and university sectors. To this end, my department will be finalising a national policy outlining the minimum entry requirements to university study requiring the national vocational certificate offered at colleges. We also welcome that the teacher education summit is starting and we are looking forward to that summit and expect that it must give us direction about what is to be done collectively on this very important matter.
Chairperson, with regard to higher education, we need to consolidate and deepen the transformation gains made over the last fifteen years, while continuously improving the access and success, particularly of black students at all levels of the system. Of great concern which is totally unacceptable is the low level of participation and success of black students in particular fields of study like accounting, natural sciences, engineering, research and postgraduate studies and I agree with hon James. This is important if we are to develop the next generation of academics and researchers.
With regard to access, I need to say that I have recently appointed a Ministerial Committee to review the efficacy of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. The most important task of this committee, which will present its report before the end of the year, is to provide recommendations that would give effect to government's commitment to progressively introduce free education for the poor up to undergraduate level. [Applause.]
In addition to access, particular attention will also be paid to improving success and improving participation especially by black students. We intend by 2010 to increase graduates as a percentage of total enrolments to 22 percent and we are currently setting targets for the period 2011.
We have to this end, earmarked R146 million for foundation programmes and qualifying institutions have been allocated teaching development grants. R1.46 billion is also earmarked for improving teaching, learning and residence infrastructure and academic efficiency, in this financial year. Do not worry hon members; we are acutely aware of some of the problems that are raised including the state of some of the residences. Most of this is directed towards historically disadvantaged institutions and increasing their capacity to produce the required levels of output that we want.
We also recently released the report of a Ministerial Committee on transformation and social cohesion focussing on the elimination of discrimination in higher education. I have already written to chairs of councils to discuss and respond to the report.
We intend to convene a stakeholder summit early next year to discuss a range of issues facing higher education institutions, including the development of a transformation charter for the sector and the establishment of a permanent higher education stakeholder forum. A whole range of issues we want to be discussed head-on, the issue of language must not be used as a means of exclusion. Let's not hide behind academic autonomy in order to block transformation and access to our institutions. [Applause.]
We also want to say that in fact on students residences between the year 2006 and 2010 we plan to spend R800 million. I want to say to the hon member across there, I and the ANC have not deviated from the 1997 mandate of the Higher Education Act. You might have because you have crossed the floor, perhaps. [Applause.] Thank you very much.
Mr D A HANEKOM: On a point of order: Chairperson, I am sitting here amongst opposition members and there is some agitation here in the benches and confusion about the green tie that the hon Minister, who is a very nice Minister, is wearing. [Laughter.] They want to know whether he has made the shift from being a communist to now becoming an environmentalist. [Laughter.]
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N OLIPHANT): Minister, that is not a point of order.
Mr M J ELLIS: On a point of order: Chairperson, is it now ANC policy for them to put a spy amongst the opposition parties to hear what the opposition parties are saying? [Laughter.]
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N OLIPHANT): That is not a point of order either, hon Ellis.
Mr G LEKGETHO / End of take
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Mr G LEKGETHO: Chairperson, Minister of Basic Education, Minister of Higher Education and Training, Deputy Minister of Basic Education, ladies and gentlemen, today we are assembled here gracefully on the occasion of the Budget Vote debate for both basic and higher education and training.
Today marks a fundamental departure from the past in the history of education in this country. The point we are making today is that we are passing the Education Budget, for the first time made up by two related, but separate departments. Our pursuit for good quality rural education cannot be treated as business as usual. We have deliberately separated them so that each can make a meaningful contribution to the development of our country's human capital.
Our history has been a bitter one, dominated by colonialism, racism, apartheid, sexism and repressive labour policies. The result is that poverty and degradation exists side by side with a modern developed economy. Our income distribution is racially distorted and ranks as one of the most unequal in the world. Women are still subject to innumerable forms of discrimination and bias and rural people are marginalised. Throughout, a combination of lavish wealth and abject poverty characterises our society. The economy was built on a systematically enforced racial division in every sphere of our society. Rural areas were divided into undeveloped Bantustans.
In this regard, my committee at the Tswaing/Ratlou area, my constituency in the North West province, had said that the challenges that face the area are as follows: Learner transport need to be improved, particularly across Duikerbos, Mangester, Bailey and Borneo, to name a few schools; access to schools on private land is difficult, if not impossible; massive infrastructure renovation is needed on the buildings inherited from the Bantustan era; we need a massive infrastructure of school sport facilities; retraining of educators is also urgent to respond to skill gaps in science and technology; reopening of teacher colleges and in-service training centres are also urgent; libraries, laboratories and information technology centres are scarce to come by; cultural stereotypes, particularly in former model C schools, are also impediments to realising equal education in the rural schools and elsewhere; greed and corruption in the school feeding system is rife.
Where is this rural education directorate that was meant to facilitate the development of an integrated, multifaceted plan of action for improving the quality of schooling in rural areas? Minister, to be honest, we have compromised, if not sold out our children in farm schools who are still exploited as if under apartheid.
Cheap labour policies and employment segregation concentrated skills in white hands. Our workers are poorly equipped for the rapid changes taking place in the world economy. The 2009 ANC Election Manifesto identified education as a priority. It further identified rural development as key to our development priorities. It is on this basis that we want to consider seriously issues of rural education as a central pillar in our struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality. The expansion of rural education and investment in infrastructure should begin to reach even areas of the country that have been most adversely affected.
The 2009 manifesto committed itself to an ambitious rural transformation initiative unprecedented in the recent history of this country. Our President, Jacob Zuma, in his state of the nation address, identified the greater Giyani local municipality in Limpopo as the first pilot project for this campaign. This is the area of social transformation that contributes most directly to the living standards of especially the rural poor. Access to higher education and training must also speak to people in the rural areas. The department needs to do more to ensure that youth in rural areas also benefit from social and economic development in the country.
The department's vision is the creation a world-class education system. But what do we mean by a world-class education system and what is its relationship to the current social and economic demands on South Africa? Can we claim to have a world-class education system whilst surrounded by growing youth unemployment, growing inequalities and neglect of our rural people? What informs this so-called 21st century education system and what are the building blocks?
What emerges clearly is that education would be critical in our effort to rid the country of poverty and unemployment. It would be vital for government to know and understand the policy intentions of our resolution on education to ensure that government does not sidetrack. The ongoing debate about what we want to do and where we want to see our education system going is necessary. There is also an urgent need to improve the management of education-related programmes at provincial level. Resource allocation is important in this regard.
Our spending on education remains our single biggest investment, however, while education enjoys a significant share of the total budget allocation, we are nonetheless concerned about schools in rural and impoverished areas lacking infrastructure and the capacity to break the cycle of poverty. [Time expired.] The ANC supports this Budget. [Applause.]
Mr M H HOOSEN / End of take
Mr G LEKGETHO
Mr M H HOOSEN: Chairperson, firstly, allow me to congratulate the hon Ministers on their recent appointments and use the opportunity to commit the ID to making a positive contribution to the huge challenges in our education.
These challenges belong to us all. We must begin a programme of educating and encouraging our communities to play a more active role in our schools. There are still far too many parents who neglect their duty to play an active role in the education of their children and simply leave this responsibility to the teachers alone. Ironically, this behaviour is more prevalent in the poorer areas. Equally guilty are the many businesses in our communities who also turn a blind eye. We must remind them that they will one day become the beneficiaries of a poorly-skilled work force and, unless they make an investment in our education today, they will also suffer the consequences tomorrow.
Over the past 15 years, we have spent more on education than most other developing nations, yet the ID believes that we still do not have enough to show for it. The ID remains concerned about the massive inequalities in education, which we believe OBE has made worst, because rich schools have the resources to implement it whereas poorer schools do not. We need more focus on reading, writing and mathematics and each school must be given access to electricity, water and sanitation. Each school must also have social workers that can identify and deal with problems like sexual and substance abuse.
We would like the department to consider replacing the no-fee schools with a child education grant. This will help to target poor learners rather than poor schools, covering school fees, transport and uniforms. This will mean that schools will no longer have to struggle to collect school fees and poor learners at wealthier schools will also be covered. The current system of quintile ranking continues to discriminate against poor children who are attending wealthier schools.
Lastly, in last year's Budget Debate, the ID extended a call to the Minister to expand the national school nutrition programme to secondary schools, we are grateful that that cal has been heeded. The ID supports this Budget. I thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION / End of take
Mr M H HOOSEN
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Chairperson, hon Minister of Basic Education, hon Minister of Higher Education and Training, hon Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, hon members, less I not have the time later I would like to start by thanking the hon Minister for her open and interactive leadership, the steady hand of the director-general, the commitment of the senior management team of Education and the extraordinary and sterling work done by our chief financial officer who has consistently assisted Education in producing excellent results. I wish him well in his future endeavours. May I also thank my office staff.
The hon member from Cope indicated that what was required was cohesive, co-ordinated and passionate change in order to make the difference. Indeed, we agree with her because what we saw when Bafana Bafana played was extraordinary cohesion, co-ordination and passion, and indeed there is a lesson in that for us – that even where there is no hope, we can succeed if we have those elements and ingredients that make up our being as South Africans. [Applause.]
Now, let me start off by congratulating Bafana Bafana on a game well played and congratulating the Local Organising Committee on its wonderful organisation. You may wonder why I am speaking about this: the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup brought all the excitement to our country. Parallel to this event, the Department of Basic Education, together with Sport and Recreation SA and the Department of Arts and Culture, in partnership with the Local Organising Committee, have successfully hosted the first phase of "My 2010 School Adventure".
The Schools Confederations Cup championship was held from 14 May 2009 to 16 May 2009 at Marks Park, Johannesburg, where all school teams from all provinces of South Africa adopted all the countries that took part in the Confederations Cup. More than 250 000 boy and girl learners participated in this event, representing more than 8 500 schools. It is envisaged that more than 500 000 learners will participate in the next phase of "My 2010 School Adventure".
One of the partners of this project, Adidas, sponsored all our qualifying teams with football kits including soccer boots. Winners were then presented with tickets to the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup matches. We also received excellent support from the embassies and other sponsors, including Fifa.
The education pillar of "My 2010 School Adventure" was held at Museum Africa in Newtown, Johannesburg, from 19 June 2009 to 20 June 2009. Learners from all the provinces of our country showcased their world-class artworks, poems, essays and traditional dances. Teachers were also part of this project and their portfolios were displayed to show how they had introduced "My 2010 School Adventure" into their classrooms. As I sat and watched our learners dancing and reciting poetry, I felt extremely proud to be South African; even more proud seeing the Western Cape learners representing Iraq, singing the Iraqi national anthem.
The hon James correctly started his speech with dialectical materialism. The hon Minister of Higher Education and Training has been able to synthesise dialectical materialism with didactic materialism. [Laughter.] I share with him the view that indeed science and technology are critical, and that it is an area of human development and resource that we cannot neglect.
This year, 2009, marks the last year of the second phase – that is, 2005 to 2009 – of the national strategy for mathematics, science and technology education, which we originally launched in 2001. We are therefore pleased to give an account of the progress we have made in this regard on the implementation of the objectives that we set out for ourselves in pursuit of a mathematically and scientifically literate society.
Since the launch of the strategy, we have seen an increase in the level of participation and systemic improvement in the performance of learners in mathematics and science. The attendance and performance of girl learners have also increased dramatically. Two thousand four hundred mathematics and science teachers in Dinaledi schools have had access to training opportunities to strengthen their subject content knowledge in mathematics and science. Fifteen private-sector companies have adopted 250 Dinaledi schools following our call for a more focused partnership between government and the private sector. Indeed, together we can do more.
We invite other partners to join this important platform of co-operation for the common good of our learners. The advances for education systems in these areas could also be attributed to the dedicated support of the Department of Education, which has provided schools support in order to enhance the teaching of mathematics and science. While we understand that more still needs to be done, the initial teaching resources that we provided contributed to renewed energy for the improvement of the system and towards the achievements of the outcomes that are envisaged.
Amongst the contributions we made, the department also supplied about 250 000 textbooks in English, mathematics, physical science and life orientation; 500 000 copies of Maths 911 for Grades 11 and 12; 235 000 scientific calculators; and 20 000 mathematics and physical science exemplar papers.
In 2005 we told that nation that we would double the number of passes in mathematics. Very few people believed that it was possible. We did this on the basis of dedicating our energies to Grades 10, 11 and 12 in providing the support we had enumerated and in monitoring these schools. [Applause.] Indeed, what we can say today, with great pride, is that we have done more than that. We increased the number of learners who passed with more than 50% in mathematics from 25 000 to 63 000. [Applause.]
So, if we are set on a particular course and a task and we have the passion and co-ordination and management that the hon member spoke about, indeed we can not only achieve our target, but increase it. What is more interesting is that the 500 Dinaledi schools, which make up only 8% of high schools, contributed more than 24% of the passes – total passes – in the country. Now, this is an incredible and remarkable feat, given the fact that Dinaledi schools are historically disadvantaged rural and township schools. That is the reality, and this means that as a nation we can do more provided we have the support.
Given that this year is the last year of our targeted maths, science and technology strategy, we will carry out an evaluation of the programme to establish the total impact of our interventions. This will assist the system to respond more appropriately to areas that will still require dedicated attention in improving the quality of education.
We are pleased to inform the hon members that with regard Kha Ri Gude, we are offering classes to 620 000 learners, in 11 languages, at 35 000 .
I want to conclude by saying that this creates opportunities for more than 40 000 facilitators to bring literacy to our people. I think this is a wonderful effort that we should support. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Ms N M MADLALA / End of take
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION
Nk N M MADLALA: Ngiyabonga, Mgcinisihlalo. Mgcinisihlalo, mangithathe lelithuba ngibingelele bonke oNgqongqoshe abakhona ngaphakathi kwendawo. Ngibingelele bonke abahlonishwa abakhona; ngibuye ngibingelele izikhulu eziqhamuka eMnyangweni Wezemfundo; ngibuye ngibingelele nezivakashi zethu ezikwigalari.
Mgcinisihlalo, ngivumele ukuthi ngaphambi kokuthi ngethule inkulumo yami, ngikhumbuze le Ndlu ukuthi kwenzekani ngo 1955 eKliptown, lapho kwasungulwa khona usomqulu obizwa ngokuthi yi-Freedom Charter. IFreedom Charter ithi: iminyango yonke yezemfundo kanye nezamasiko izovulwa.
Ukusukela ngo 1994 uMnyango Wezemfundo uzame ngazo zonke izindlela kanye nokuzinikelela ukuthuthukisa izinga lothisha. Ake sizibuze-ke ukuthi kungani lomnyango wakwenza lokhu? Okokuqala, siyiNingizimu Afrika asinabo othisha abathuthuke ngokwanele kwezemfundo. Sisadinga amakhono athize ukuze sithuthukise ezemfundo kuleli lizwe lakithi. Ngaleyondlela ukwentuleka kwemisebenzi kuzoncipha futhi kuthuthuke nomnotho wakuleli lizwe.
Uma sibuka, futhi sifunda iManifesto kaKhongolose yalo nyaka ophezulu, kuphawuliwe ukuthi singuKhongolose sithi: imfundo ingumkhakha obalulekile kuleli lizwe, ngakho-ke sizogxila kuyo. Lo Somqulu ubuye uphinde futhi uthi: izinga lezemfundo kothisha lizothuthukiswa, kuqashwe othisha abenele, kubuye kuphuculwe amaholo kanye nokuqeqeshwa kwabo. SinguKhongolose sizokwenza konke lokhu sibambisene nezinyunyana zakuleli ngoba sizimisele ukubona othisha kanye nezingane bekhululekile emagunjini abo okufundela.
Inkomfa eyayisePolokwane yathatha isinqumo sokuthi kusungulwe isigungu esizobuyekeza, sithuthukise, sihlolisise, sibuye sisekele othisha bakuleli lizwe. Izinyunyana zakuthakasela lokhu emhlangweni wazo owawungoSeptemba ka 2008. Lo mhlangano wawuphakathi koMnyango nezinyunyana. Izinyunyana zabuye zenaba ngokuthi lokhu kufanele kuhambisane nokuqeqeshwa kothisha.
Mgcinisihlalo ngithanda ukusho ukuthi konke lokhu kuhambisana nezinsiza ngoba ngaphandle kwezinsiza asoze sifinyelele noma sithole impumelelo egculisayo. Ngakho-ke, kubalulekile ukuthi othisha bahlinzekelwe ngezinsiza ezifanelekile ukuze kubonakale izithelo ezinhle.
Nginethemba lokuthi uhulumeni oholwa nguKhongolose uzofinyelela kukho konke lokhu ngoba usephawulile uMongameli wezwe, uMhlonishwa uJacob Zuma ukuthi wonke uthisha wakuleli uzohlonyiswa nge-lap top ngemva kweminyaka ethile esebenza. Uma sifisa impumelelo kulokhu, ngikholelwa ukuthi izikole kufanele zibe nama-laboratory, imitapo yolwazi, kanye nezinkundla zokudlala. Lokho kuzokwenanela ukusekelwa kothisha.
Esinye sezinqumo zasePolokwane sithi: le ndlela entsha yokufundisa kufanele ibambisane nokuthuthukiswa kwamakhono athile wothisha. SiyiNingizimu Afrika, siyasilela kwamanye wamakhono lokho bese kudala ukuthi kulandwe othisha kwamanye amazwe bazosiza ezikoleni zethu ngokufundisa izifundo ezifana neZibalo kanye neSayensi noBuchwepheshe njengoba beyizingcweti zalokho.
Mina angihambisani nalokho, boNgqongqoshe, ngoba ngikholelwa ekutheni uma sinamakhono enele, lokhu ngeke kwenzeke. Akwandiswe othisha abanamakhono eZibalweni kanye nakwiSayensi noBuchwepheshe. Akungagxilwa kuphela kulezi zikole ezibizwa ngokuthi yi-Dinaledi kodwa makwenziwe kuzo zonke izikole zakuleli lizwe. Ngaleyondlela sizoba yisibonelo esihle kwamanye amazwe. Makubuye kugcizelelwe futhi ngokuqeqeshwa kothisha nge-National Curriculum Statement, i-NCS.
UMongameli, uMhlonishwa, uJacob Zuma ubuye waphawula enkulumeni yakhe, mhla evula iPhalamende ukuthi uzozama ngokusemandleni ukuhlangana nothisha, abazali kanye nezingane zesikole uqobo, ngenhloso yokuthuthukisa ezemfundo. Waphinda futhi wathi abaphathi bezikole bazophakanyiselwa ukuba ngothisha-nhloko noma babe ngabaphathi bemiNyango ethile uma kunesidingo.
Kubalulekile ukuthi uMnyango Wezemfundo wenze lokhu okushiwo yizinyunyana zakuleli ezathi:
... an audit of what teachers know and don't know, what they do and don't do, their beliefs and values.
Ngemva kwalokho, uMnyango ungakwazi ukuhlukanisa phakathi kokuqina nokuntengantenga kothisha. Ngaleyondlela kuzobonakala lapho siphokophelele khona siyiNingizimu Afrika. Konke lokhu sizokwenza uma sibambisene singamaqembu ehlukene lapha ePhalamende, kanye nomphakathi wonke.
Ngiyabonga, Sihlalo. [Ihlombe.]
Dr J C KLOPPERS-LOURENS / End of take
Ms N M MADLALA
Dr J C KLOPPERS-LOURENS: Chairperson, it was recently reported in our media that, "a high-level panel of education experts has concluded that South African schools are dysfunctional."
The Democratic Alliance therefore welcomes the findings and recommendations of the Ministerial Committee on the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, as being illuminative and significant, and the DA wants to urge the hon Minister to regard the establishment of such a unit as a matter of high priority.
On a positive note, the DA wants to congratulate the department on the introduction of the Foundation for Learning Campaign. This initiative was launched to improve learner performance in reading, writing and numeracy and it provides clear directives to the entire education system on minimum expectations at each level of the general phase of schooling. Its primary focus, namely to highlight the importance of literacy and numeracy as a basis for achieving quality education for all, is laudable.
Chairperson, the core of any schooling system is its curriculum. The curriculum determines the nature of the system and forms the axis around which all the components of a school system revolves. I want to focus mainly on certain aspects of the national curriculum which prescribes an outcomes-based approach to education.
Whilst the DA supports this approach, it also is keenly aware of the fact that learners should be equipped with a firm bedrock of knowledge to enable them to demonstrate certain required skills by applying knowledge.
The curriculum for each grade should be set at an appropriate level. It should neither bore children through oversimplicity, nor be set at an academic level which is unobtainable.
Voorsitter, in hierdie verband, wil ek vier aspekte aandui wat dringende aandag vereis: Eerstens behoort alle leerders die voordeel van moedertaalonderrig tot en met graad 6 te geniet. Dit is wetenskaplik bewys dat leerders, benewens hul moedertaal, alle ander vaardighede ten beste deur middel van hul moedertaal verwerf.
Tweedens skep die oorgang van graad 3 na graad 4 baie aanpassingsprobleme. Waar daar in graad 3 nog grootliks op taal-en rekenvaardighede gefokus word, moet leerders in graad 4 opeens 'n aantal nuwe leerareas bemeester, wat net te veel gevra is.
Derdens behoort leerders nie vanaf graad 10 tussen die vakke Wiskunde en Wiskundige Geletterdheid te kies nie. Die benaming Wiskundige Geletterdheid is misleidend. Dit is nie Wiskunde nie. Dit rus leerders met sekere rekenkundige vaardighede en nuttige kennis vir hul loopbane toe, maar dit kan nie 'n grondslag vorm vir 'n beroep waar wiskundige kennis en vaardighede vereis word nie.
Vierdens is die vak Fisiese Wetenskappe as 'n verpligte vak die achilleshiel van tegniese onderwys. Hierdie vak, met sy groot Chemie-komponent, is te akademies van aard vir leerders met 'n praktiese aanleg, wat 'n tegniese studierigting verkies. Die departement behoort die daarstelling van 'n vak soos Toegepaste Fisiese Wetenskappe vir die behoeftes van sodanige leerders te oorweeg.
Chairperson, the DA believes that the broad curriculum, presented in our schools, should be relevant. Learners should leave school with skills that are appropriate for managing different aspects of their lives. This requires amendments to certain subjects, as well as the inclusion of some new subjects. In this regard I suggest the following: Firstly, it is essential that the South African history curriculum should be redesigned in order to ensure that the subject is presented in a balanced and unbiased manner. It is therefore important that a new basic motive, or leitmotiv, should be identified, which can produce a new image of our history and which is acceptable to the entire South African nation.
Secondly, I agree that South African Sign Language does not get the attention it deserves. Hearing-impaired and deaf South Africans should have the right to learn, develop and use their primary language. In the spirit of the DA's policy open opportunity society for all, it calls upon the department for the development of a South African Sign Language curriculum.
To conclude, Hon Minister, the Mail and Guardian recently speculated on the question of whether you are tough enough to become "Ms Fixit". The DA is watching you, but we are also right behind you in the sprit of the slogan: Together we can build a better future, and will assist by handing you some of the tools required to fix our dysfunctional education system. Thank you.
Mr Z S MAKHUBELE. / End of take
Dr J C KLOPPERS-LOURENS
Mr Z S MAKHUBELE: Madam Speaker, both the Ministers of Higher Education and Basic Education, hon Deputy Ministers, hon members of the House, colleagues in the portfolio committee, guests in the gallery, good afternoon, it is only befitting to acknowledge that this Budget Vote 13 is being passed at the 54th anniversary of the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955 on 26 June in Kliptown by the Congress of the People. The Freedom Charter has since become a cornerstone, a guiding and visionary document from which our transformation agenda is based.
One of the clauses of the Freedom Charter is the "Doors of learning and culture shall be opened to all", whose real meaning and value should find expression through this budget. The people of South Africa voted in their numbers, particularly the youth, for the ANC on the basis of its programmatic election manifesto which spelled out clearly what and how a vote for the ANC meant a vote for a better life for all - more especially young people and in particular student sector.
The ANC election manifesto amongst other educational matters undertook to encourage students from working class and poor communities to go to tertiary institutions by reviewing and improving the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. This commitment was in pursuit of the ANC's 52nd National Conference held in Polokwane in 2007 which resolved inter alia to progressively introduce free education for the poor until undergraduate level and that the ANC government should focus more on the quality of education being provided.
It is both imperative that both the departments and in particular the Department of Higher Education should focus on the historic issues of access, equity and student performance or success rate that has bedevilled institutions of higher learning for sometime now.
Access to quality higher education by students from the working class and or from poor communities should be considered broadly to mean financial assistance, responsive admission policies -which may require centrally administered national data base, institutional culture that complements academic development and support programmes to student learning experiences.
The critical stage of a student life that guarantees access to tertiary institutions is at school level-it cannot be explained fifteen years into democracy and freedom that poor performance of black and African students in universities is due to poor quality of black schooling education .The Department should put more effort to quality of education in public schools and institutions of higher education so that all forms of discriminations are dealt with.
It is said that black students are sent to foundation courses irrespective of their matric or Grade 12 results as long as they are not from traditional feeder schools. This means that eventually they are placed on extended programmes even though they have good matric results because in some institutions no assessment is made.
Statistics show that though there is progress since 1994 with regard to increased participation of black students generally and African students in particular accessing higher education, the high failure and drop-out rates render the higher enrolments not worth the efforts. Hence there is a need to ensure that once students enrol- the system should be able to see them through to completion.
We should be concerned equally by their success rate. It is worrisome to observe that the average graduation rate for white students is double that of the African students; 48% to 24% respectively. The other revelation is that whereas female students perform better than the male students, the average female success rate in 2006 was 72% compared to 67% of the male success rate. However, only 35% female students, graduates overall against 42%of male students.
The intention to progressively take care of the poor students until undergraduate level will require that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, be reviewed and improved as a facility best suited to address this matter. That will certainly cater for the 50% of the youth between 16 and 24 years-old roaming our streets aimlessly everyday without any engagement. No doubt criminality feeds such vulnerable individuals. Government should account for everyone's activities on a daily basis so that people's energies are put to good use.
The loan should cover the full cost of their studies. The students from poor families should participate in social recreational activities having to buy the required equipment to avoid the fate of many students in similar situations to that of an 18 year-old girl, Mashidi Mabaso who enrolled with the University of Pretoria, UP, for Civil Engineering studies and had then to quit in just four months, because though she did get a R12 000-00 bursary she could not cope with the printing monies for submissions of her assignments from time to time which cost her on average R50-00 monthly.
Our objective should be that the progress being made in terms of equity of access should be translated into progress in equity of outcomes.
It should be noted that despite the remarkable change in the composition of the student body's demographic profile in terms of increased participation, the access of black and African students particularly women to the high-status and high-skill areas such as the sciences, engineering and post-graduate programmes is very limited.
Female students tend to enrol in larger numbers in the field of humanities, particularly in teacher education programmes while remaining seriously underrepresented in programmes in science, engineering and technology and in business, commerce and management sciences.
To dismantle the apartheid legacy and helping build the human capacity that South Africa needs to become a strong, united, democratic and prosperous nation in the 21st century we should consciously attend to students' participation and graduate output of scarce and critical skills. The President during his State of the Nation Address said that training and skills development initiatives in the country must respond to requirements of the economy.
Institutions of higher learning should focus on improving graduation and success rates and the Department of Higher Education must monitor the performances of these institutions in relation to their input and output targets.
A situation whereby deserving institutions under-spends on the National Financial Aid Scheme thereby denying needy students to benefit from the government funding and assistance cannot be tolerated. The Department should continue to review the funding formula so that it is enabled to interact with these institutions appropriately when the need arise.
Our view point is that government financing of higher education must ensure equitable access and that race, ethnicity, gender and social class should not justify denying access and equal treatment to anyone with proper qualifications. This will squarely be in direct response to the State of the Nation Address by President J.G Zuma when he said there should be improved access to higher education from poor families and ensuring a sustainable funding structure for universities.
Access should not be limited to academic programmes but should include access to residences as well. Attention should be given to how residences in these institutions are allocated so that everybody feels at liberty in the same environments.
It should also means that government should build more infrastructural projects - residences included - to accommodate the high numbers that are being anticipated.
We also know that black and mostly African students face other forms of discrimination in the system some of which are based on language, racism, sexism, pregnancy, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture and class.
The idea of institutional autonomy and academic freedom should not be used to practice any of the above discriminations. Institutional autonomy should be within the context of public accountability and the national need for advanced skills and scientific knowledge and not against transformation policies of government. Thanks. [Applause.]
Mr R B BHOOLA / End of take
Mr Z S MAKHUBELA
Mr R B BHOOLA: Chairperson, firstly the MF would like to commend the Minister of Higher Education for looking at transformation in the tertiary section and also for seriously ensuring ways and means of assisting poor students to complete the tertiary education and studies. We believe that the minister must implement his ideas and the MF will give him our fullest support.
It is very important for the state to ensure that a learner who has the intellect, capacity to advance and excel in tertiary studies must not be deprived in our country on the grounds of poverty. I know that the minister comes from SACP but the MF believe that communism is outdated and it is now called 'Modern Socialism' and we support the minister in his modern social approach. To the Minister of Basic Education the constitution for the fight for democracy is one word, to provide for the poor. If we look at the ex-HOR and HOD schools, these schools are now populated largely- in fact most of these schools are... The MF will support the budget. [Time expired.]
Ms F F MUSHWANA / End of take
Mr R B BHOOLA
Ms F F MUSHWANA: Chairperson, I rise to speak on higher education. Chairperson, hon Ministers and Deputy Ministers of both Basic and Higher Education, hon chairpersons from both Basic and Higher Education, hon members, distinguished guests, friends on the gallery, ladies and gentlemen, fellow South Africans out there, "dumelang", "avuxeni", "môre, of is dit middag"? Allow me to salute all of you once again. Once in the garden of Gethsemane it was said, "Let this cup pass me by." I feel like that right now. However, allow me first to take this opportunity to congratulate South Africa for having hon JZ as our President – a rare species indeed.
N'wina hinkwenu mi nga ta va na nkateko wa ku va ni xandla eka mburisano lowu, ndza mi losa na ku khensa ku nyikiwa tindleve. eMisaveni hinkwayo, dyondzo hi yona yi endlaka leswaku ku va ni nhluvuko wa ku twisiseka na ku xiximeka.
I am most privileged to share my views so as to contribute to the all vital higher education, especially on the topic, "transformation of higher education". Let's talk about curriculum reform.
We have agreed in the portfolio committee to unpack this, looking at these aspects: culture, structure and curriculum. Chairperson, we inherited the whole package as the ANC. My colleague, Mr Makhubele, spoke on these aspects around the access to quality education. I want to take it further to speak of the transformation needed to ensure that what we are talking about really happens.
Mi nge ndzi sungula hi swiphiqo leswi vangiwaka hi mindhavuko yo hambana-hambana. Swa endleka leswaku machudeni ya rhandza ku hlawula dyondzo yo karhi kambe swi nga koteki hi ku ya hi ndhavuko. A hi nge n'hwanyana u lava ku va socha, hi ndhavuko wa tinxaka tin'wana ...
... a girl cannot choose to be a soldier. We need a paradigm shift in South Africa. Transformation in this regard is necessary because, yes, it might be against certain cultures to do so, but that's when we need to learn from other cultures so as to fit our democratic South Africa in this new era.
Another culture that must be dealt with is that of bunking classes, late-coming and lack of commitment. Life orientation must be taken seriously, especially at universities and FET colleges. We need to transform the mindset. This will also solve drug abuse. Chairperson, if students emerge from a drugless society, they must not transform themselves into drug users, because those who are hooked would like to be unhooked for sure. In short, different cultures must complement each other and not the opposite. Our President put it very clearly in the State of the Nation Address that, "teachers should be in school, in class, on time, teaching, with no neglect of duty and no abuse of pupils". Actually, I should have opened quotes, now I'm closing. [Laughter.]
Transforming into this school of thought needs transformation from all of us. The ANC says, "Together we can do more". We will hear this over and over again because, for sure, together we can do more. All structures supporting education must do their jobs – school governing bodies, educators, opposition, etc. Chairperson …
... vatsonga va ri ku tlula ka mhala ku letela n'wana wa le ndzeni.
Now we need implementation of this. The Department of Education must follow suit because the ANC made lists – the ANC is the father, so the son must follow. The Department of Education must implement. Chairperson, together we can do more for sure.
I ndlopfu ya hina!
United we stand; divided we fall. Speaking bad of the South African education system while we stay here can be compared to a family member who speaks bad of his family members. If any structure believes that our education system is not fine, just remember that it emerged from 16 different departments in the same South Africa. Let us all take care of our schools - we must fix windows, etc. The NCS exams last year were the cherry on top.
Chairperson, on curriculum transformation, we need a production school as a matter of urgency in South Africa because those who cannot read and write or get matric, need skills so that they can work and participate in the tax system of South Africa.
Congratulations to the Polokwane conference and our manifesto and the State of the Nation Address. From where I emerge, we say, "Amandla!"
But before I sit, there are perhaps two things that I need to state right here. Hon W G James of the DA spoke of more money to be lent to students. The more you borrow, the poorer you become later in life. [Laughter.] And hon Vukuza-Linda from Cope said something about ethics. I want to remind you that ethics are already included in life skills in our education system as the ANC. And hon A M Mpontshane from the IFP: If the ANC is the engine, you are the spare wheel! Amandla! [Applause.]
Mr M A MANGENA / End of take
Ms F F MUSHWANA
Mr M A MANGENA: Chairperson and hon members, education is one of the most effective redress mechanisms available. Those with a good education are much better placed to escape the ravages of poverty than those without, and are better equipped to make a positive contribution to the advancement of society in all its fields of endeavour. Yet in our country, it is the children of the poor who bear the brunt of the weaknesses of our education system. Some of us have batted on that education wicket and can say with conviction that we, the adults, are failing our young. There is nothing wrong with our kids, but we as parents, teachers, officials and other drivers of the education system are failing them.
The recently released study by the UCT Children's Institute, called The South African Child Gauge 2008/2009, confirms what we have always known, that our kids at primary school cannot read, write and calculate. The Department of Education has conducted an assessment of its own and came out with more or less the same results. It has been said that, generally speaking, the ability of our kids in reading, calculating and comprehension is equal to that of kids two or three grades lower in other countries.
It is mostly the children of the poor who are under-prepared for higher education or the world of work, making their escape from poverty even more difficult. Owing to this poor preparation, their dropout rate at universities is high, denying the country an adequate pipeline of skilled people. Our plea is for the two brand-new Ministers of Education to lead us in a collective charge to improve the education of our young. The education of our children is not something to fight about, but something over which we must all hold hands. In the classrooms and lecture rooms all over our country, we do not have DA, Azapo, ANC, Cope or IFP children. We just have our children. [Applause.] We just have our children who require our nurturing, and that educational nurturing is our collective responsibility. Thank you! [Applause.]
Mr D C SMILES / End of take
Mr M A MANGENA
Mr D C SMILES: I would like to share, in the interest of quality education in South Africa, a word with two ministries. First of all I think the rule that is tried and tested and stood the test of time, is that Required Learning Achievements at appropriate age levels, is the Golden Rule. And the hon Minister for Higher Education said that Recognition of Prior Learning, is important. Yes it is important but it should not be the rule, it should be exception to the rule. Then also, the hon Minister for Basic Education, acknowledged the 70% achievement in the Millenium Goals. Yes it is good, but hon Minister, I think what is more important, is the quality of that 70%. If we do not look at the quality, then it will continue to chase numbers and it is not about chasing numbers, it's about quality education.
So, I honestly hope that the two Ministers will be the watchdogs of each other. That the hon Blade Nzimande will say to the hon Motshekga: I want from you competent, well-disciplined learners coming to higher education. And on the other hand, the hon Motshekga will say to the hon Msimande: I want well-disciplined, well-educated teachers and education specialists coming to my schools.
To come back to my speech, School Education lies at the heart of the open-opportunity society. Schools are the place where learners receive foundation for further education, for their training needs and for preparation for the workplace. It is against this background, hon Chairperson, that the Democratic Alliance wish to point at the many opportunities that this fourth Parliament has brought along. We can make it right this time. We failed for the last 15 years. We can make it right, especially the two Ministries. We must get it right especially for our Grade R learners. Lets start at the beginning. Lets start where it matters, at the Grade R.
Hon Chairperson, we have more or less 700 000 Grade R's and the Democratic Alliance is seriously concerned and may I say, also SAQA, all the quality councils in the ministry or in South Africa, are worried about the quality of education. So you need to be worried as well and if you do not worry, I think the time has come that you should be worried.
Now let's see what is the important thing that the Democratic Alliance would like to share today. On behalf of those 700 000 Grade R learners, we want you to guarantee a packet of core minimum resources to those Grade R's. It must be guaranteed. It should not be compromised for anything. It must be guaranteed - a well-trained teacher or practitioner in front of those little ones! It is not negotiable. We want also to see that u have a well-equipped classroom and ...
Baie belangrik, baie belangrik, daardie klein kindertjies moet gereeld na gekyk word vir hul gesondheid. Afgesien van die voedselprogram wat in die skole daar bestaan, moet hulle oortjies en hulle mondjies en hulle ogies gereeld "gecheck" word, want dit is belangrik anders gaan hulle nie presteer nie. Dit is ook belangrik
... that there will be a clear, defined and accepted set of learning achievements. Why I am saying this, hon Blade Nzimande, is because the qualification councils are not certain what those set of learning achievements are for the Grade R's and all of us should be worried about that. I want to say that achieving the Millenium Goals, is maybe one objective for the Government and we should be doing that ... [Time Expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M L FRANSMAN / End of take
Mr D C SMILES
Mr M L FRANSMAN: Chair, Respected Ministers and Deputy Minister, Fellow Members of Parliament, also I want to thank in particular, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Basic Education. I was not around for two weeks and she was able to even hold the fort in the Higher Education and Training. So thanks a lot hon Chair.
Hon Ministers, we have heard of the many gains and progress made in the area of education in the past decade and a half. I believe, however, that it is the historic task of our new ministries of Higher Education and Training as well as Basic Education, to rise up to the challenge of wiping out what remains, I believe, the Verwoerdian Legacy that sought to institutionalise the belief that there is no place for the African child in the European community. And I am raising that because we have heard, even from the Opposition today, the issue around skills and the match - supply and demand - side of skills.
We do know that the realities that we are sitting with today, is precisely because of the decisions that we have taken yesteryear in South Africa. And I think that is a recognised fact and we need, therefore, to the find the strategies as we have heard from the ministries, to articulate the positions around education further.
Amongst persons aged 20 years and older, who have completed higher education, Africans registered - and this is some of our achievements - an increase of 126.3% between 1998 and 2006. The number of university graduates who were unemployed, declined between 2006 and 2007 from 229 000 to 196 000.
Despite these significant achievements, major challenges, however, remain in the quality of education. We have not produced enough skills required for our economy and we have heard today that both Ministers speak to that.
What the Committee also has indicated, we will be looking at, hon Chairperson, is the actual spend and/or reallocation when it comes to Education Funds through the Provincial Treasuries. In addition, the ANC in Polokwane, called for affirmative measures for historically disadvantaged higher education institutions, with specific emphasis on infrastructure, access and staff provisioning, increase accessibility to adequate water and sanitation. And I also want to indicate that a critical area for us, would be around the issue of higher education, the accessibility thereof, but also the quality in relation to the support of bursaries but also what the hon member of the DA mentioned, the issue of accessibility to accommodation itself.
Comrade Ministers, we have indeed come a long way but what South Africa needs, is nothing short of a Skills and Education Revolution. With all the challenges, it is therefore just not possible to continue in a mediocre and "business as usual" way. We therefore call, in fact, for a much more radical, and we have heard some of the elements of that radical plan;
1) The review on the issue of FET's;
2) The review on the issue related to Setas, as well as the alignment with Higher Education.
Indeed, we support that because what that brings, is the alignment between higher education and the issues around those children that leave school, but that do not necessarily have access to university ability. And that is a very, very important one because at least 50% to 60% of our school leavers go into that particular category.
I also would want to support hon Minister of Higher Education and Training, around the question of full bursaries for those young people that enter universities from needy backgrounds. Now the bursaries are on the one side, but equally so, what we have to do, is to find ways of looking at those things what I call, the noncurriculum side as well, transport issues, the accommodation questions, eg. if a child from Bonteheuwel or a child from a village in the Eastern Cape comes and studies at UCT, what are those cultural realities being experienced at that university?
What are the issues that a young student has to think through that the other child from Bishop's Court does not necessarily have to think through. Those are the real dynamics. And what we have done at some stage in the previous portfolio, in a particular programme, we have seen that if we look at the issues of the nonacademic questions linked up with full bursary, we in fact, have seen a pass rate of at least 75% to 80% in Engineering students. Therefore it is critically important that we look at those types of issues.
We also welcome, as the Committee, the Report pronounced on Transformation and Social Cohesion and we agree with the monitoring mechanisms that hon Minister Nzimande has put in place around that.
There are, however, two issues that I just want to highlight in the report, in a sense as additions. The one is the question around the compulsory staff development of academics. I do think that we need to push very hard on higher education and research, but equally so, the issue of quality teaching and staff development in terms of that in itself - for educators - becomes important for us.
The other issue related to the preliminary research that indicates that only a third of first-year enrolments, graduate in the minimum time. Therefore the question around the third and fourth year debate and I know that the Department is analysing that issue and we welcome the findings of that discussion.
With regard to governance, the Report, hon Ministers, also mentions the institutional forums and composition of Council that should be reviewed in order to make them more effective in giving voice to the various stakeholders.
However, that report, is therefore a submission which I believe we need to somehow reflect on. In my view, is possibly not speaking too much about the workers on campus, when it comes to higher education and colleges. I know that, not so long ago, Nehanu has in fact raised that particular issue on the 13 May 2009, where they issued a very strongly-worded call for some moratorium on the outsourcing and the labour-brokers in institutions of higher learning.
What essentially it is that the workers, just before that, before some of those outsourcing had a relation with the institutions. Now somehow we see it is much more just a particular service as a labour broker and that is something that I believe, that in terms of the report, was not necessary clear on.
Hon Chairperson, I have focused on what existing HEI's can do to address skills and unemployment crisis. However, the message that the Minister has given about the post-school system, and therefore the further education sector as well as the programmes around the apprenticeships, that is something that we, as a Committee, also support.
I do, however, want to request that the National Youth Development Agency is being pulled, not indirectly, but very directly into that programme. Because if we say that at least 50% plus of young people that in fact have left school, are unemployed and not necessarily appropriately skilled, the question is: Who are they? Where are they? so that we do not speak percentage. That we are actually able to say, this is the ability currently that they have got; this is where they are working or that they are unemployed; this is the casual labour work that they have done in the past; or this is the type small levels of skills development that they have gone through. So a proper, not a tracking device, but also a proper data base analysis of them and therefore, as our Committee, we also support them. [Time Expired.] [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION / End of take
Mr M L FRANSMAN
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION: Chairperson, in closing the debate, I would like to recognise the presence of my family, my sister and her partner, my children and all invited guests who are here. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all the members of the executive council for education who have assisted in defining this agenda, Deputy Minister Surty for his strong and capable support at all time and my colleague, Comrade Nzimande. Many thanks also to the Director-General and his senior officials who have the responsibility of ensuring that this agenda is implemented efficiently. I would also like to make special mention of the Chief Financial Officer, Mr Phillip Benadé, who retires today after many years of service to government and who has delivered clean audits over an extended period. [Applause.] To all the good teachers and principals out there represented by Mr Mathopa, whom I referred to earlier – a principal who turned a 0% performance school to a 100% performance school. [Applause.] He is one of the few principals whose own children attended a school serving the poor, expressing confidence in his own work.
The beauty of this debate is that education transcends political and ideological divides, therefore, we will agree with most of the issues and points that have been raised by different members of the opposition and also of the ANC. We agree with the speakers on most of the points raised and we will definitely come out much clearer in our strategic plan, which we request you to read and also make comment on.
On the issue of quality education - hence our theme today of working together to achieve quality education for all, and I think we all agree - our children from poor backgrounds and rural townships all deserve access to quality education sooner rather than later. We also agree about challenges facing our rural schools and systematic problems in the system and again we are committed to confronting them. Again, I would like to emphasise the point of why the Ministry was divided – to make sure that between ourselves and Higher Education we focus our attention on all the issues our committees have raised regarding education. There have also been some comments on the curriculum, hence we have set up a committee to make sure that indeed we are committed to attend to real and perceptual problems that have been raised regarding the curriculum. We are setting up a process from this month. I have given them four months and we are inviting members of the public to comment to make sure that, come 2010, we have already addressed some of the major issues that people have raised.
A great thing to remember about the curriculum is that it is not an event, it's an ongoing process, and indeed we will set up mechanisms to make sure that there is continuous support and research around the curriculum at all times to make sure that it does indeed respond to the needs. I want to reiterate the point and assure members of the House that we will be addressing most of the issues that have been raised regarding the curriculum, because it is our core business. If you are in the business of making BMWs, you have to constantly do research to make sure that indeed your product can stand the test of time and the changes that confront it.
Education for children with special needs has again been raised, and again we are committing ourselves to say, yes, indeed, we have once again prioritised that in our strategic plan, we have set up a process to see what we have to do to make sure that indeed our policy addresses the plans that are there. I have already spoken to members of the department to say that if you have a policy that does not address the challenges affecting children with disabilities, it is not worth the paper it is written on. The whole question about sign language and children from poor households not accessing education is a challenge we as a department have to develop plans for and confront with all the necessary dedication and commitment we can.
I would like to say, before taking my seat again: Firstly, regarding the capping of fees, I think, as much as we agree that we have to be very careful about this matter so that you don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg; also that it is quite irresponsible to allow, by default, the privatisation of state assets like schools to be privatised by high fees so that it excludes children of poorer parents who cannot afford to pay the fees. This is an open issue, but we are committed to say that we are not going to allow public schools to charge R50 000, because that will, in a way, really be like stealing state assets by privatising them and keeping them for the rich only. I think this is an issue that we have to discuss.
Secondly, the question of charging fees: I am not sure why we should deny parents who are willing to give their children the best gift they can, which is education, by saying they can't pay, because it is free education. There should be a spirit of making sure that there is cross-subsidisation in the system. Without wasting any more time, I would again like to sincerely thank the members for indicating that you do commit yourselves to working closely with us so that we can do all we can to make sure that we increase access to quality education for all our children from rural, poor and township schools. I thank you. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING / End of take
The MINISTER OF BASIC EDUCATION
The MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Chairperson, I would like to join the Minister of Basic Education in thanking the director-general and the acting director-general in the department for the help they have given us, also the chairpersons of the two portfolio committees. I think, frankly, there is one message - we might be putting it in different ways – as much as there may be two Ministers for purposes of focussing on aspects; there is one education system, not two. I think that provides the basis for knuckling down and doing the work and, hopefully, the opposition won't become professional critics, but rather a part of us working together. [Applause.] We don't want professional students in higher education, just as much as we don't want professional critics.
I'm sure hon Smiles will smile when I give him this answer: Recognition of prior learning should actually neither be the rule nor the exception, but it should be integrated into the education system. That should be our approach to this particular matter. I'm very happy that, together with hon Wilmot James we are going to start a new movement, [Laughter.] a movement for dialectical materialism for all [Laughter.] under the slogan: Working together, we can study more dialectical materialism. [Laughter.] Hon James raised very critical issues around how to build on the strengths in our system and for various institutions to actually have niche areas. We agree with that, it is very important. We should just guard against reproducing the same inequities that have been in the system by further privileging those institutions that have been privileged already. It provides the basis for an ongoing engagement and debate, because you cannot reproduce the Walter Sisulu Campus in the former Transkei to be the same as Wits University, but it does not mean that the one must be higher or lower than the other; rather similar in quality, but specialising. It is something that will be well worth it. I agree, by the way, with the interjections made. It's unacceptable for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme not to spend all the money. It is something I am looking at and I have already asked for a report of why this money, that was supposed to be spent, was not spent.
I must thank all the members for their contribution, agreeing with a number of things that were said, but hon Mpontshane, if we are moving slow with the transformation in education, please understand, we are still trying to undo the legacy of ubuntu botho in our largest education province, KwaZulu-Natal.
Loba buntu botho enanizama ukusifundisa ngabo Inkatha yikho lokhu okusuhambisa kancane. Ngiyabonga Sihlalo kakhulu.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERRSON: Order! Immediately after we have adjourned this public committee we will start on the debate on Health. We were supposed to start now and we are already one minute late. I therefore appeal to members, those who are not going to participate or be part of that debate, to leave the House and those who will be participating or want to attend, to just remain seated.
The Committee rose at 16:41.
No related documents