Minister of Basic Education Budget Speech


24 May 2017

Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga, gave her Budget Vote Speech on the 24 May 2017.


Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members and Colleagues
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Honourable Speaker, we thank you for this Debate on Vote 14, Basic Education.

Madam Speaker, let us start by requesting this august House to pay respects towards the eighteen children, aged between 7 and 15 years and the two adults who perished in the gruesome accident in the Bronkhorstspruit area in Mpumalanga on Friday, 21 April this year. These learners were from Refano Primary School and Mahlenga High School.

Madame Speaker, again allow me to raise our serious concerns about the effects of the violent service delivery disruptions taking place across the country.  More concerning to us, is when schools are used as bargaining chips by those aggrieved communities out there.  These violent protests, which in most instances, have nothing to do with education, rob our learners of countless school hours and days.  The violence and vandalism that accompanies many of the recent protests cannot be condoned, irrespective of the perceived and real reasons.  We must collectively, make it our business to protect and deliver on our children’s right to basic education unhindered.

Madam Speaker, let me add my voice to the voices out there that are condemning the violence that is meted out on women and children by male perpetrators.  What is nerve-racking, is the ferociousness that the latest victims of the recent violence were subjected to.  We must all condemn such callous acts, committed especially by men on women and children.  South Africa will never be the cohesive society we all yearn for, when such atrocious acts continue to be committed by humans on others.  We wish to applaud those members of civil society, especially the courageous young men, who stood up and decried the recent spate of violence our country is experiencing.  We join these young men in their declared stance – “Not in my name”.

Building a solid foundation for teaching and learning – strategic realignment and repositioning of the basic education sector

Madam Speaker and the Honourable Members let me remind you once again that in 2015, UNESCO adopted the global education agenda, Education 2030.  The global education agenda is part of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development.  SDG 4 calls for an inclusive, quality and equitable education and lifelong opportunities for all.

In our local context, we have our national basic education sector plan – the Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, which is designed to achieve the long-term vision of education as encapsulated in the National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030.  The NDP states that “by 2030, South Africans should have access to education and training of the highest quality, leading to significantly improved learning outcomes.  The performance of South African learners in international standardised tests should be comparable to the performance of learners from countries at a similar level of development and with similar levels of access.

Our very own world-renowned Constitution which marked its 21st anniversary this year, declares basic education as an inalienable basic human right for all South Africans.  The Constitution – being the supreme law of the land – together with a variety of local, continental, and international conventions, provide the moral imperative and a mandate to Government to make access to quality educational opportunities widely available to all South Africans.

Therefore, the Constitution, the UNESCO SDG 4, the Continental Education Strategy for Africa on the African Agenda 2063, the NDP – Vision 2030, and our Action Plan 2019 all provide a clear direction to improve access, redress, equity, efficiency, inclusivity and quality of learning outcomes through the implementation of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework and our National Strategy for Leaner Attainment.

Our sector plan therefore, strengthens and reinforces a whole system approach intended for the improvement of the quality of teaching and learning outcomes; and guides communication and messages around the comprehensiveness of our responses towards research-based findings of basic education system’s deficiencies.  Credible data and information, as well as credible research, continue to help us to identify where there is inefficient coordination.  There is tangibly more understanding and cooperation within the basic education sector – among officials, partners, business, organised labour, and other stakeholders.

Madam Speaker, we have reported widely and repeatedly on our achievements as a sector, especially on access, redress and equity.  I can confidently report that we are increasingly prioritising interventions, policies and strategies that target an improved quality of learning and teaching, and implementing accountability systems to ensure that quality outcomes in the basic education sector are achieved.

We are of the strong view that the internal efficiency of the system and quality basic education outcomes will be achieved through specific and deliberate interventions in the early Grades.  This, we are doing because research is showing that the major root causes of dropping out of school towards the end of secondary schooling, are weak learning foundations in the early Grades.  Therefore, the most important priority must be to improve the quality of learning and teaching, so that we can ensure improved quality outcomes in the early Grades.  It is through this pointed focus that learners in the Foundation Phase can be equipped with the skills needed to cope with the curriculum requirements of the higher Grades.

Madam Speaker, we can report with pride that the effects of the interventions in the Foundation Phase are beginning to result in improved learning outcomes.  The skills of learners are continually improving – the rigorous and widely respected international testing programmes are showing this upward swing.

International assessment benchmark tests

Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, progress in the sector has also been confirmed by the recent cycles of regional and international assessment studies.  The results of recent regional and international studies – the Southern and East African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ IV), and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2015), respectively, show that the performance of South African learners is improving – symptomatic of a system in an upward trajectory.

The SACMEQ IV study results confirmed the upward trends, and showed for the first time, that South African learners at Grade 6, achieved Mathematics scores which are above the significant centre point of 500 points.  The TIMSS 2015 results on the other hand, further affirmed noteworthy growth patterns, which when compared with other countries since 2003 at the Grade 9 level, clearly demonstrate that South Africa has shown the largest improvement of 87 points in Mathematics, and 90 points in Science.  More importantly, the largest gains were evident within the historically disadvantaged sections of the schooling system – quintiles 1-3 schools.

Our emerging national assessment framework

During our 2016 Budget Vote Debate, we announced that we are reviewing the Annual National Assessments (ANA) as our response to general concerns levelled against the ANA.  I can now report that the ANA has been reviewed and reconceptualised as the National Integrated Assessment Framework (NIAF).  The new model comprises three tiers, namely –

the Systemic Assessment, which will be sample-based, and administered in Grades 3, 6 and 9, once every three years.  This will provide the basic education sector, especially those involved in planning and evaluation, with valuable data on the health of the system and trends in learner performance;

the Diagnostic Assessment, which will be administered by the teachers in the classroom to identify learning gaps; and to plan remedial measures early in the learning process, so as to avoid learning deficits; and

The Summative Examination, which will be a national examination, administered in selected Grades and selected subjects to provide parents and teachers with a national benchmark to measure the performance of their children.  It will also be used to determine promotion amongst Grades.

The systemic assessment will be piloted in October 2017, and the first systemic assessment will be implemented in 2018.  Consultations with our social partners are set to be concluded by the end of June 2017 on the diagnostic assessment and summative examination.

Madam Speaker, the improvements that will emanate from the new model of national assessment include – firstly, the use of a single assessment tool, as was in the case of ANA which was used for a variety of purposes, is now avoided through the three separate assessment tools, each with a specific purpose.  Secondly, with the systemic assessment being administered once every three years, it gives the system ample time to remediate before the next assessment.  Thirdly, the assessment overload is obviated by the administration of the national assessment in selected Grades and not on an annual basis.  Fourthly, the diagnostic role of the assessment is emphasised through the provisos of diagnostic assessment tasks for use by teachers in the classroom.  Fifthly, the use of the outcome of the summative examination for promotion purpose will ensure that the cost of a national examination is justified.

National Senior Certificate Examinations

Madam Speaker, the Class of 2016 was the ninth cohort of learners to sit for the National Senior Certificate (NSC), and third cohort to write CAPS-aligned NSC examinations.  The Class of 2016 recorded the highest enrolment of Grade 12 learners in the history of our country.  Without going into details about the performance of our learners, districts and provincial education departments, it should suffice to remind this august House that for the past six years, we have recorded NSC pass rates, which have consistently been above the 70% threshold.

[Honourable Members, the 442 672 candidates passed the 2016 NSC examinations – the second largest number of candidates to pass the NSC examinations].  The numbers of candidates who qualified for admission to Bachelor studies, those who attained Diploma and Higher Certificates passes, and candidates who passed with distinctions, especially in the critical subjects, increased.  More gratifying, is that more girls than boys registered, wrote, and passed the 2016 NSC than boys – another sign that gender disparities continue to be addressed.  Even the number of learners with special needs who entered, wrote and passed the 2016 NSC examinations, some passing with distinctions, also increased – a sign that our basic education is indeed inclusive.

Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, you may recall that in 2015 we encouraged provinces to progress or condone over-age learners who had failed Grade 11 more than once.  There were other conditions that these learners were expected to meet to qualify for progression into Grade 12.  These learners were given extra support to adequately prepare them to sit for the entire Grade 12 NSC examinations, or allow them to modularise their examinations – meaning that they wrote part of the examinations in November 2016, and the rest in June 2017.

Consequently, in 2016 we saw the largest number of progressed learners, since the policy was promulgated in 2013.  The fact that the highest number of candidates registered for the 2016 NSC examinations, is testament that retention and throughput rates were gradually improving and that the drop-out rate is gradually decreasing.  This is positive indeed, especially when the NDP enjoins us to “mediate the high drop-out rate of learners from the basic schooling system by increasing the learner retention rate to 90%, and allowing for an increase in the number of learners entering vocational and occupational pathways”.

The analysis of the data from the 2016 NSC examinations on progressed learners, paints an extremely interesting picture.  The significance that can be attached to the progressed learners is that these would-be-high-school dropouts, if they were not progressed, were afforded with an opportunity to either go to university or TVET College.

Evidence from research corroborated that the South African basic education system is on the rise

Madam Speaker, I wish to refer to three research reports whose assertions are that the South African basic education system is on its upward trajectory.  The first research report, published by UNESCO in 2015, reveals that, since the advent of democracy in 1994, more learners remain in school up to Grade 12.  In this regard, South Africa does well relative to other middle-income countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Costa Rica and Uruguay.  Virtually, all children remain in school up to the year in which they turn 15 years of age, in line with the compulsory schooling policy embodied in the South African Schools Act, 1994.

Further, research conducted by the Department in 2016, has found that in 2015 close to 60% of young people were successfully completing thirteen years (including Grade R) of education, in the sense that they were completing the National Senior Certificate or an equivalent qualification from a college.  This figure becomes 56%, if only the National Senior Certificate is considered.  Comparatively, in 1995, 39% of young people aged 25 years, had reported having completed Grade 12.

We should therefore not be surprised to observe from two other research reports that, at the higher levels of performance, the patterns are encouraging, and lend support to the finding of a system that is on the rise.  The second research report, published by Dr Martin Gustafson in 2016, indicates that in Mathematics, about 34 000 learners achieved a mark of 60% or more in the 2016 NSC examinations, following figures of about 30 000 learners in 2014, and 31 000 learners in 2015.  Improvements at this level of performance are important, as these mean that more learners get to qualify for mathematically-oriented programmes at university, and are hence equipped to fill critical skills gaps in the economy.  By far, most of the improvements have been amongst black-African learners.

It is moreover important to note that historically black-African schools currently account for around two-thirds of black-African learners, who achieve a mark of 60% or more in Mathematics.  Township and rural schools are making important contributions, and these are in fact, the schools which have recently shown the largest improvements.

In Physical Science, the 2016 figures point to even larger improvements.  The number of learners (of any population group) achieving 60% or more in Physical Science, reached 28 500 in 2016 – the highest figure seen since the National Senior Certificate was introduced in 2008.

The third report, from research conducted by the Department in 2016, shows the extent to which in the past, Bachelor passes tended to be concentrated in better performing schools.  We however, in recent years, have observed a remarkable shift towards greater equity.  In 2005, as many as 60% of Bachelor passes (or “endorsements”, as these were called at that time), came from the best performing 20% of the schooling system.  By 2015, the best performing 20% of the schooling system was producing just 49% of the Bachelor passes.  In other words, the remaining 80% of the schooling system accounted for a larger proportion of all learners deemed ready to enter university.  Also, university readiness had become more equitably spread by 2015.

With this evidence Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, we are convinced that the overall quality, efficiency and inclusivity of the basic education system are on the rise.  During the current MTEF period, we will continue with the good work done in the past three years, particularly focusing on the performance of the young ones in the Foundation Phase.  Accountability imperatives, throughout the entire system, are not negotiable.  The concerns raised by the National Treasury, the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, the Auditor-General, the oversight committees of Parliament, and the public in general, must be addressed without failure.

District development and the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT)

Madam Speaker, we must equally recognise the cardinal role played by the current 81 basic education Districts.  The NDP states that “teaching in schools can be improved through targeted support by District offices”.  To deliver on this injunction, for the past two to three years, we have convened quarterly meetings with all the District Directors, based on specific themes for the academic year, to hold Districts accountable on our quest to improve teaching and learning outcomes in our schools.  The District Excellence Awards held in April 2017, were a fitting tribute to recognise the enormous work done at this layer of basic education management level.

The President has consistently invited all South Africans to join hands and make education a societal issue.  We wish to recognise the enormous work done by the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) for coordinating valuable contributions made by teacher unions, South African business, universities, research institutions, non-governmental organisations, and many ordinary South Africans.  The NECT has supported the sector greatly by developing, capacitating, and supporting Districts in specific management, administration, and on our core mandate – teaching and learning at the school level.

The NECT continues to deliver their programmes around its critical six thematic areas, which have been distilled from the NDP and our Action Plan to 2019.  These thematic areas include facilitating the professionalisation of teaching; promoting courageous and effective leadership; supporting the State to build its capacity to improve the quality of education; contributing to education resourcing; improving parent and community involvement; and improving learner welfare.

Guided by its operational mathematical mantra that the NECT + NDP = hope, growth and future, in its short stint since its founding in July 2013, the NECT has made a positive impact in our basic education system and has yielded positive intermediate outcomes.  The footprints left by the NECT in the Districts in which they operate, are there for everyone to see.  We will continue to expand the vista of operation of the NECT, so that their expertise and support programmes can be made available and enjoyed by all Districts in the country.

Budget allocation, Vote 14 for the 2017 MTEF Period

Madam Speaker and Honourable Members, the Budget Vote 14 we are presenting, is marked by a consolidation of our work, and on guiding and deepening learning and teaching in the classroom.  We continue to confront the persistent challenges within the basic education sector.  Today, we stand in front of this august House to seek a fresh mandate for our programme during the 2017 METF period.

The Overall Budget Allocation for 2017/18 for the Department of Basic Education is R23.4 billion.  The fact that our budget has increased by R1.1 billion from that of 2016/17 allocation – an increase of 5.1%, confirms the ANC-led Government’s commitment towards education as the topmost priority.  Madam Speaker, the breakdown allocations by Education Programme for the 2017 MTEF period are as follows –

The 2017/18 allocation for Administration is allocated R416.3 million – an increase of 9.2% from the 2016/17 allocation.

Curriculum Policy Support and Monitoring is allocated R1.9 billion for the 2017/18 – an increase of 7.4% from the 2016/17 allocation.

For the 2017/18 financial year, Teacher Education Human Resource and Institutional Development is been allocated R1.22 billion – an increase of 3.8% from the 2016/17 allocation.

The 2017/18 allocation for Planning Information and Assessment is R13.2 billion – an increase of 6% from the 2016 MTEF allocation.

Educational Enrichment Services receive R6.7 billion for the 2017/18 financial year – an increase of 6.9% from the 2016/17 allocation.

Conditional Grant Allocations for the 2017/18 financial year

The 2017/18 allocation for Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) Grant is R365.1 million – an increase of less than one percent from the 2016/17 allocation.

Infrastructure delivery – which during the 2017/18 financial year, continues to be funded through the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) and the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) which are funded at R10.05 billion and R2.6 billion, respectively – and increase of 4.5% and 9.5% respectively from the 2916/17 financial year.  As from the 2018/19 the EIG and ASIDI will be merged into the Infrastructure delivery programme, which will be funded at a total of R27.4 billion over the two outer years of the 2017 MTEF period.

For the 2017/18 financial year, the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) has been allocated R6.8 billion – an increase of 5.9% from the 2016/17 allocation.  Currently, the NSNP benefits more than 9 million learners in more than 21 000 schools.  The NDP enjoins us to develop a sense of community ownership for programmes, such as the NSNP.  Hence, about 64 000 Volunteer Food Handlers continue to prepare meals for children; while 8 000 SMMEs, locally-based community cooperatives, and other service providers continue to supply the prescribed NSNP foodstuff to our schools.

Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities – Madam Speaker, this year, the National Treasury has introduced a new Conditional Grant for Learners with Profound Intellectual Disabilities.  This Grant is aimed at providing access to quality publicly-funded education and support to 8 000 learners with profound intellectual disabilities.  The Grant is allocated R78 million for 2017/18, which will increase to R190.5 million and R209 million for the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years, respectively.

For 2017/18, the HIV and AIDS Conditional Grant are allocated R245.3 million – and increase of 6.3% from the 2016/17 allocation.

Earmarked Allocations for the 2017/18 financial year

The NSFAS:  Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme – in its eleventh year, is allocated R1.1 billion for the 2017/18 financial year – an increase of 5% from the 2016/17 allocation.

Umalusi is subsidised at R124.6 million for the 2017/18 financial year – and increase of 5% from the 2016/17 allocation.

The Second Chance Programme – This intervention was introduced in January 2016, as a direct response to the NDP’s injunction that retention rates should be increased and drop-out rates reduced.  The Second Chance Programme has been allocated a total of R45 million for the 2017/18 financial year, which will increase by R223.8 million over the two outer years of the 2017 MTEF period.

National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) – The importance of public-private partnerships is a prevalent theme of the NDP; and is also consistent with the President’s call to make education a societal issue.  For the 2017/18 financial year, the NECT has been allocated R94.2 million – and increase of 30.7% from the 2016/17 allocation.

Workbooks, including Braille workbooks for the visually impaired learners, continue to prove to be essential learning and teaching resources for our schools.  The 2017/18 allocation for Workbooks is R1.05 billion – an increase of 4% from the 2016/17 allocation.

For the 2017/18, Early Grade Reading – a new programme, has been allocated R4.1 million, which will increase by R26 million over the outer two years of the 2017 MTEF period.  The programme aims to improve learner’s reading proficiency levels in the Foundation Phase.  The roll-out of an assessment tool, is set to begin in 2017 at 1 000 selected primary schools, and will benefit an estimate of 120 000 leaners in Grade 1.

Information Communications Technologies (ICTs) – Operation Phakisa, is one of the new programmes, which is funded at R7 million during the 2017/18 financial year.  This amount will increase by R35 million over the two outer years of the 2017 MTEF period.  Madam Speaker, Operation Phakisa aims to fast-track the development and distribution of education-related digital content, with a specific focus on 15 gateway subjects, including Mathematics, Science, and Accounting.  The programme will initially focus on 200 under-resourced rural and township schools with strong management.  The Honourable Deputy Minister Enver Surty will give more details on this programme.

Young people who are neither in employment, nor in education, nor in training (NEETs) – Youth development for employment opportunities

Madam Speaker, let me conclude by informing the august House that during the Cabinet Lekgotla held on 01-04 February 2017, the Cabinet Lekgotla directed my Ministry to work with the Ministry of Social Development and other departments and the different spheres of Government, to lead in developing strategic and innovative programmes and interventions to address the triple socio-economic challenges of unemployment, poverty, and inequality faced by young people.  Our focus will be on young people, aged 15-34, who are neither in employment, nor in education nor in training.  The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) refers to such a group of people as the NEETs.

We have begun with the conceptualisation of strategic programmes, which in the main will focus on the development of the skills of young people for employability and young people becoming entrepreneurs.  For now, we have held several consultations with some of our strategic business partners, and all of them are enthused by the prospects of this programme.  All of us agree that young people should be skilled to participate actively in the fourth industrial revolution and become gainful employees and entrepreneurs.  We will soon table our proposals to Cabinet and take guidance from Cabinet.  What we can say at this moment is that, all of us must be involved in developing and implementing sustainable youth skills development programmes for employment and entrepreneurship possibilities.

Conclusion and tributes

Madam Speaker, may I conclude by reiterating that the basic education system is definitely a system on the rise.  All of us have a duty to ensure that the right of our learners to quality, effective, inclusive, and efficient basic education is not negotiable.  We now have a stable system that looks at the whole development of a child – our future leaders.

We are therefore, presenting this Budget Vote when our country continues to cherish the life, the leadership, and the teachings of one of our greatest visionaries and struggle icons of his time, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo.  2017 has been declared as the centenary celebration of this stalwart.  His values, virtues and legacy contributed immensely to the freedoms and rights we now enjoy as a democratic country.  His love for children is aptly illustrated when he said that “the children of any nation are its future.  A country, a movement, a person that does not value its youth and children does not deserve its future.”

Madam Speaker, may I sincerely extend a word of gratitude to Deputy Minister Enver Surty; the Chairperson of the Education Portfolio and the Honourable Members who serve in this important oversight committee; Education MECs and their HoDs; our Director-General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli and his team of Senior Managers; the Chairpersons and CEOs of the SACE, Umalusi and the NECT and their staff; our strategic and generous business and international partners and sponsors; NGOs in the sectors, and more importantly organised labour, especially teacher unions and the principals’ association, as well as officials in my office for their diligence and support.

We are immensely grateful to all the teachers, principals, parents, learners, SGBs, individuals, who work tirelessly to make quality, effective, inclusive, and efficient basic education a reality in the various parts of our country.  Last but not the least; I must thank my family for their unwavering care and support.

I thank you.

Basic Education Budget Vote Speech for the 2017/18 Financial Year Delivered By the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Mr Enver Surty, MP, at the National Assembly, Cape Town
24 May 2017
Honourable Speaker
Honourable Members and Colleagues 
Distinguished Guests 
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In December last year we celebrated twenty years of the proclamation of our Constitution into the supreme law.  I was very fortunate and honoured to be part of an extraordinary venture, putting together a book encapsulating the diverse perspectives of the Bill of Rights in the constitution making process.  This book, “Reflections on the Bill of Rights – Theme Committee 4” provided background and anecdotes on this historic event and sought to capture the essence and values enshrined in that Bill of Rights, the cornerstone of our Democracy.
Our President and Deputy President provided the foreword and a chapter, respectively, to the book.  In the foreword, President Zuma states, and I quote:
“The Bill of Rights is described in its Preamble as the cornerstone of our democracy.  It is underpinned by the values of human dignity, equality and freedom.  The choice of these values was conscious and deliberate, given our divided past when the vast majority of our people, blacks in general and Africans in particular, had their dignity violated in multiple ways on a daily basis.” Close quote.
Deputy President Ramaphosa, who dubbed the Constitution as the “Birth Certificate” of our nation, reflected on the values and rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights.  He correctly stated that, and I quote:
“The liberation struggle was a struggle for human rights and the affirmation, recognition and protection of each South African’s human dignity.  It was also about achieving equality for the masses of our people and ensuring the enjoyment of full civil, political and socio-economic rights.” Close quote.
He reminds us that Madiba, precisely twenty three years ago today, while addressing the two Houses of Parliament stated:
“Our definition of freedom of the individual must be instructed by the fundamental objective to restore the human dignity of each and every South African.
This requires that we speak not only of political freedoms.
My government’s commitment to create a people-centred society of liberty binds us to the pursuit of the goals of freedom from want, freedom from hunger, freedom from deprivation, freedom from ignorance, freedom from suppression and freedom from fear.
These freedoms are fundamental to the guarantee of human dignity.”
Significantly the book contains a chapter by Louise Asmal, who recollects how OR Tambo instructed Kader Asmal, Zola Skweyiya, Albie Sachs and other comrades to begin the process of crafting a Bill of Rights. They were requested to pay attention to the African Claims document, the Freedom Charter, and the African Charter of People's Rights and Obligations.  Tomorrow we celebrate Africa Day. It was OR Tambo’s vision of creating a non-racial South Africa, a proudly African identity and a world citizen committed to peace and social justice that was captured in the Freedom Charter. It is the Freedom Charter that eloquently speaks to opening the doors of learning and culture and embedding the right to free basic education which has found expression in section 29 of our Constitution
Given this imperative we had to look closely at the learning environment by ensuring that we provide, among other things, infrastructure that is conducive to teaching and learning.
Honourable Members, the school built environment has gone a long way to improve access, redress and equity in the basic education sector. On our part as Government we are aware that to improve the overall picture of basic education, we must pay particular attention to physical infrastructure. We know that research has concluded that learners studying in poorly designed schools: “felt that they were a reflection of their school: undervalued, worthless, dirty and uncared for.” Many pieces of educational research show the link between low self-esteem and under-achievement occasioned in part by poor infrastructure.
It is for this reason that both the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) and Basic Education have set aside billions of rands to deliver quality infrastructure in our lifetime.
I am pleased to advise that only last week, I officially opened yet another state of the art school as part of the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). The Du Noon Primary School is located in a very economically depressed area here in the Western Cape. I might further add that this is the second school that the ASIDI programme has opened in the same area in the last two years. We are indeed delivering a dividend of democracy to South African children wherever they might be found.
Honourable Members, I am pleased to report that we ended the last financial year with 179 state of the art schools completed. Over and above this, since the programme’s inception, we have connected 306 schools to electricity, provided clean water to 615 schools and dignified sanitation to 425 schools. This commendable work is set to continue. As I speak to you, we have 70 schools under construction and a further 40 for which the tender processes have been completed, and are about to commence construction shortly. We can, therefore, safely confirm that we will meet our target of 110 schools for completion by the end of this financial year. I must advise Members that the revised baseline for electricity connection is 535 down from 916 because of a combination of closure of farm schools and the electrification of schools under provincial programmes.
The revised baseline for schools built from inappropriate material is 386 down from the original 510. This is largely because of the rationalisation and mergers exercise undertaken in the Eastern Cape, where the bulk of the challenge lies. 
However, the actual schools under the ASIDI programme have increased to 657. What we have done is that schools originally earmarked for construction under the provincial educations departments infrastructure programme have now been roped into the ASIDI programme. This is good news, as we are now going to build more state of the art schools to benefit a large number of learners across the length and breadth of our country. 
As the Minister indicated in her speech, infrastructure delivery, funded through the Education Infrastructure Grant (EIG) and ASIDI – is funded at a total budget of R40.1 billion for the 2017 MTEF period, an increase of 5% from the 2016 MTEF allocation.
In our very first lekgotla, for this current term of office, the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) concluded that to take the basic education sector to greater heights, and to ensure optimal access, redress and equity, we had to adopt the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for administration, learning and teaching. Our humble resolution was an attempt to bridge the digital divide. Or, to take the giant leap into a digital future as it were.
When we came to this determination, little did we know that we were firmly repositioning the sector for something more exciting and revolutionary. Thus, the quest to place the basic education sector firmly of the 21st century pedestal had begun in earnest. As an example, we are in an advanced process of providing 130 e-Libraries to schools nationally in this current financial year. If we get our ducks in a row as we should, we will change the lives of 12.9 million learners, over 400 000 teachers in some 25 574 across the country through the roll-out of ICT solutions.
Honourable Speaker, the reality confronting us today is that we can no longer teach the 21st century learners using the run–of–the–mill 20th century methods. The future beckons, and that future is digital - fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Scholars say we have entered the stage of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. They claim it has multiple possibilities and are amplified by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.
Sadly, Honourable Members, according to the Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) report (2016) South Africa lags behind in terms of fixed broadband, mobile broadband, speed and affordability. We are changing this picture fast. The basic education sector must become the leading change agent in this revolution.  We have to if we hope to be relevant as the basic education sector and ultimately as a country.
Honourable Speaker, today I stand before this House to boldly proclaim that the basic education sector has indeed entered the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, teach, learn and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the revolutionary transformation of the basic education sector will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, says a Fourth Industrial Revolution pundit, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.
Moreover, pundits argue that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is disrupting almost every industry in every country. It is in this disruption of things that we find a nugget of opportunities for basic education. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, education and governance. We do not yet know just how it will all unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society. 
In response to the scale, and complexity of placing the basic education firmly on the pedestal of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we have through Operation Phakisa mobilised the entire Government, private sector, education stakeholders both local and global, and non-governmental role-players. 
Honourable Speaker at the heart of our participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a simple concept: internet access. Internet access is an essential prerequisite for meaningful individual and national participation in South Africa’s knowledge economy, and removing barriers to this access serves broader national socio-economic policy imperatives in line with the government’s National Development Plan (NDP).
In this regard, we are working flat out with the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) and other partners to ensure that that no school pays for connectivity in line with our pro-poor agenda of providing free public schooling. This, Honourable Speaker, is a giant leap towards the much vaunted universal connectivity for all our learners which we intend to realise by 2019.
Consequently, we have made strides in leveraging on ICT, to mitigate challenges of access, redress, equity, inclusivity, efficiency and improving the quality of basic education.
Due to time constraints, I will not be able to report to this House on the entire progress made in this regard. Just to give you a snapshot:
To date, through the South Africa’s Universal Service and Access Obligation (USAO) 125 out of 147 Teacher Resource Centres have been provided with connectivity. Some 3 252 schools have received connectivity through the USAO, and 424 Special Schools are to be connected soon. We have also provided some 3 252 schools with mobile devices through the USAO project. The National USAO project has provided 3 455 schools with ICT hardware in all provinces. All schools in the Northern Cape will be provided with the USAO solution soon. This is complemented by provincial ICT initiatives such as Smart Classrooms in the Western Cape and Paperless classrooms in Gauteng.
Digital Content Development
The following progress has been made with regard to digital content development:
The Learner and teacher components of the DBE cloud are live and the uploading of curated content is in progress (over 580 videos uploaded)
A CAPS-aligned App page has been developed, with 111 free Educational Apps.
60 State-owned digital textbooks are available in English and Afrikaans accessible offline/online.  
The DBE and ETDP SETA have developed broadcasting content for key gateway subjects.
210 African Story Books (SAIDE) across 4 levels in 7 South African Languages, were sourced and uploaded on the DBE Website.
67.5 hours of revision lessons and 37.5 hours of curriculum lesson notes for Accounting, English (FAL), Life Science and Physical Science were developed.
Digital Content Distribution
The following progress has been made with regard to digital content distribution:
A list of 111 Educational Apps is available on the DBE Cloud and DBE website.
85 Content Access Points was procured for public libraries for the Second Chance Matric Programme.
Five digital state textbooks for Grade 4 – 6 Mathematics and Grade 11 Technical Math and Technical Science were developed.
2,480 digital content packs were distributed to districts and provinces.
954 schools and 24 Second Chance Centres were provided with equipment to access the DBE TV Broadcast Channel.
A further 200 sites are to be deployed this year using Voted Funds and a further 500 using funding from ETDP SETA.
Teacher Professional Development
The following progress has been made with regard to teacher professional development:
The Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning is complete.
Thus far, Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) report that 21 468 teachers have been trained (Q3) (NSLA reports).
Finally, we have already hosted a workshop with the Department of Higher Education and Training and Higher Education Institutions on initial ICT training. The DBE and DTPS in partnership with Intel SA have provided ICT training to all provincial and district e-Learning officials in all nine provinces. We have provided ICT Change Management training to 253 Principals in Gauteng and Northern Cape.
Madam Speaker, I wish to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Minister for her exceptional leadership, the Chairpersons of the Education Portfolio and Select Committee and its Honourable Members, the MECs of Education and their HoDs, our Director-General, Mr Mathanzima Mweli and his team of Senior Managers, the Chairpersons and CEOs of the SACE, Umalusi and the NECT and their staff, our business and international partners and sponsors, as well as officials in my office for their diligence and support.
We are of course indebt to all the teachers, principals, parents, learners, SGBs, and individuals, for their immense contribution to the basic education sector. Finally, I must thank my family for their unconditional support.
I thank you.



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