Keynote Address by the Minister of Basic Education Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, at the SADTU Eastern Cape Teachers' Awards

22 February 2020, ICC, East London

Comrade Chairperson
Provincial Secretary, Comrade C.K. Mdingi
Members of the SADTU National Executive Committee
Award Nominees and Winners
Representatives of the Tripartite Alliance
Comrades and Compatriots
Fellow South Africans

Let me take this opportunity to welcome all of you to the glitz and glamour of the 2020 SADTU Eastern Cape Teachers' Awards.

This is an important gathering in the calendar of SADTU Eastern Cape as we converge here today to celebrate the exploits of excellent SADTU aligned teachers.

These teachers carry the flag of SADTU, and thus hopes and aspirations of their leaners higher every single day.

It is an excellent gesture for a revolutionary trade union such as SADTU to celebrate the gallant efforts of a select few amongst its members.

These awards play an important part in boosting morale, and shining the spotlight on best teaching practices.

The winning cohort of SADTU aligned teachers become the shorthand for excellence in the public schooling sector.

We salute our winning SADTU teachers. You're are the body and pride of our nation.

As we should know, teachers maketh the school. Without teachers, there are no schools that can serve as centers of academic endeavour.

We have just hosted the 20th National Teachers' Awards in Pretoria exactly six days ago.

Speaking at the said event, Minister in the Presidency, Cde Jackson Mthembu underscored an important point that as a country, we are very proud of the teachers' relentless pursuit of teaching excellence.

This, he added is amidst unfavourable conditions such as resource constraints, violent protests in their communities, the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse, and other such social ills.

It is clear as blue sky that awards for teaching excellence inculcates in teachers the will to succeed, it builds resilience, and a desire to shine.

Hopefully the winning mentality on display today will be ingrained into the wider body of the teaching cohort throughout the basic education system.

We converge here at the beginning, not only of the New Year and, the new school term, but at the dawn of a new decade.

We converge here to celebrate a human endeavour that has long lasting impact not only on the life of top teachers but society as a whole.

Education is the single most weapon against poverty.

High performing education systems around the world are known for powering their nations to faster economic growth, lessen the burden of diseases, cementing democracy, and achieving better living conditions for society.

As we enter the last decade of Vision 2030, the National Development Plan (NDP), let us even more clearly define the South Africa we want, and agree on the concrete actions we need to achieve them.

As a country we have just marked 30 years since the release of former President Nelson Mandela from the Victor Verster apartheid prison, and the unbanning of political organisations including our beloved ANC.

In remembering this momentous occasion, we have to ask whether we are carrying the hopes, wishes and dreams of Madiba in our daily conduct.

We must say never ever again shall it be that the levers of state power are used to subjugate others.

Instead, state power must be exercised solely for the benefit of the public.

We need to return to servant leadership of Mandela and his finest generation of freedom fighters.

Despite a subdued trading environment and stagnate economic growth, this nascent democracy has been a boon for basic education.

We have achieved the historic demand of the Freedom Charter which turns 65 years to open the doors of learning to all.

Our world renowned Constitution which turns 24 years this year, guarantees free and compulsory basic education for all.

Further, our Constitution fortifies our long cherished dream for a society based on fundamental principles of basic human rights, rule of law and universal adult suffrage.

Chairperson, once again, I congratulate all nominees and winners today.

Teaching as we know is a foundational skill. Some correctly argue that it is a mother of all professions.

We thank all teachers for dedicating all their professional time and beyond to benefit of our young people.

The recent matric results that registered an impressive and historic 81.3% pass rate mustn't lull us into complacency.

We urge all our teachers, and SADTU aligned ones in particular to redouble their efforts in the area of self-advancement and continuous learning.

We have a wide range of opportunities for self-advancement and professional development. These include new areas of specialisation such as Coding and Robotics.

We urge women SADTU teachers to register for an Advanced Diploma in Education (ADE): School Leadership which is now considered a precursor to assuming Principalship.

This is very important as the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2018, showed that although 60% of teachers in South Africa were female, only 22% of principals are female.

In comparison, 51% of principals in Saudi Arabia are female.

The prevailing situation on women Principalship is less than ideal. It is half of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 47%.

Chairperson, I was also asked to share with you our plans for the sixth administration.

We have resolved to focus on 11 priority areas. These have already been factored into the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), 2019-2024.

I will give you a truncated version of our priorities and progress thus far.

Priority 1: Improving the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially, 'Reading for meaning.'

In a bid to action, the President's directive that every child should learn to read for meaning by the age of ten, we are rallying all South Africans to work together to achieve this goal.

We have already adopted a new National Reading Plan.

In efforts to improve the teaching and learning of Mathematics in the early grades, in 2019, the Framework for Teaching Mathematics with Understanding, was developed and is currently being implemented.

The purpose of the Framework is to improve teaching practices.

The Framework sets out a number of practical guidelines and recommendations for teachers.

Priority 2: Immediate implementation of a curriculum focussing on skills and competencies for a changing world.

In this regard we have developed a Framework for Skills for a Changing World.

In March 2019, the development of the Coding and Robotics curriculum was finalized.

Priority 3: Collaborate with the Department of Higher Education and Training to equip teachers with skills and knowledge to teach literacy and numeracy.

We are already working with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology in revising the, 'The Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications (MRTEQ)', in line with new global trends.

Priority 4: Dealing decisively with the quality and efficiency through the implementation of standardised assessments to reduce failure, repetition, and drop-out rates.

We are also working on the introduction of multiple qualifications such as the General Education Certificate before the Grade 12 exit qualification. As we know this created a storm in the teacup.

We are working with the National Examinations and Assessment Committee (NEAC), a subcommittee of HEDCOM to play a key role in building an assessment ecosystem that enjoys the same credibility as the National Senior Certificate

Our education system must be geared towards developing an 'Assessment for Learning' approach with improved capacity and skills of all education officials.

I am happy to report that we have adopted the National Assessment Framework (NAF) in concurrence with our social partners.

Our bouquet of assessments include formative, the summative and the systemic, so that we do not become an examination driven system.

Priority 5: Eliminate the digital divide by ensuring that within six years, all schools and education offices have access to internet and free data.

Work on this front is underway. It is envisaged that by making workbooks and textbooks available in the interactive format this will results in huge savings as there will be no need for printing and distribution.

All workbooks will be available on gadgets as part of learning and teaching materials.

Priority 6: Urgent implementation of the two-years of compulsory Early Childhood Development (ECD) before Grade 1. The systematic function shift of the responsibility for ECD from the Department of Social Development to the Department
of Basic Education in line with global trends.

To this end, the Ministries of Basic Education and Social Development have developed a joint Concept Note on the ECD function shift.

The Concept Note amongst others, identifies eight work-streams, which will be made clear in the National ECD Framework.

Priority 7: Decolonisation of basic education through the teaching and promotion of African languages, South African and African History and national symbols to all learners up to Grade 12.

The reappointed Ministerial Task Team (MTT) on History has commenced the writing of a revised History curriculum based on the report developed by the MTT.

This step will be followed by the writing of new textbooks for History in Grades 4-12 that are in-line with the new curriculum.

To prepare the system for the introduction of the new curriculum, there will have to be rigorous teacher training to prepare the system for the introduction of new the History curriculum.

The introduction of compulsory History will be done phase by phase from Grade 10 until 12.

Priority 8: Cooperate with the South African Police Services (SAPS) and the Departments of Health, as well as Sport, Arts and Culture, to teach and promote school safety, health and social cohesion.

A conducive learning environment is a necessary pre-requisite to achieving quality basic education.

Given some of the pressing and spiralling social ills in our society, it has become increasingly critical for us to double our efforts in providing psychosocial support services in the sector.

To date, we have placed over 2 658 Learner Support Agents in schools; trained and placed child and youth care workers through partnerships with the Department of Social Development, provinces and NGOs.

We have also adopted the National School Safety Framework.

The Framework supports provinces in establishing the Protocol with SAPS established in nine Provincial Education Departments.

We have adopted and, are implementing two protocols, one dealing with incidences of corporal punishment and, the other dealing with the management and reporting of sexual abuse and harassment in schools.

All relevant personnel at provincial and district levels have been trained on how to use the protocols in a child protective manner without rendering young victims vulnerable to exploitation by the system.

The roll-out of competitive and recreational school sport programmes has been jointly facilitated by Department of Basic Education and the Department of Sports and Recreation.

Priority 9: Complete an integrated Infrastructure Development Plan, informed by Infrastructure delivery and regular maintenance, which is resourced.

The provision and maintenance of infrastructure remains one of our key priorities as a sector.

We will continue prioritizing school infrastructure programmes including the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI) and the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) Initiative.

Priority 10: Increase the safety-net through pro-poor policies to cover learners who are deserving in programmes, such as ECD and Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN).
In our pursuit of Inclusive Education, we will ensure that People Living with Disabilities have equitable access to education, health services, employment, social security and all the opportunities that come with living in a democracy.

To date the progressive rollout of SIAS Policy and Curriculum Differentiation has reached 99 470 teachers and 5 567 officials.

All Provincial Education Departments are now conducting training to consolidate and institutionalise the implementation of SIAS to ensure strengthened early identification and intervention.

In November 2019, we hosted a Roundtable on Resourcing of Schools for Learners with Special Educational Needs.

The technology companies, supported DBE's plans to meet our ICT roll-out obligations especially to increase the pace of provision of ICTs to all schools of learners with special education needs.

An audit of the farm schools as well as the multi-grade and multi-phase schools is being conducted so that the ICT roll-out in these schools is appropriately done.

In preparation for the rollout, school principals, school management teams, and teachers have been trained on change management.

Priority 11: Strengthen partnership with all stakeholders, private sector, and promote integrated governance, intergovernmental relations, and labour peace.

We should accelerate progress in sharing information with our international and national partners so that funding and support is aligned will our priorities especially our focus on improving learner outcomes, especially in the
Foundation Phase.

In conclusion, we convey our gratitude to all SADTU teachers, past and present who have remained a dependable ally of the basic education department since the beginning. Salute Maqabane!

I thank you.