Gauteng to hold education summit

Monday, February 21, 2011

Johannesburg - A Schools Education Summit is expected to take place next month to look into the schooling disruptions in Soweto last year.

"This summit will contribute to mobilising and organising civil society towards our outcome of quality education for all. With Soweto's rich history, we cannot allow it to lag behind in terms of the culture of learning and teaching," said Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, while delivering the State of the Province Address.

The summit will bring together civil society and government, and address the disruptions which continued after the strike by teachers.

The disruptions included a protest by a student representative group, which wanted learners not to write preliminary exams after the teachers' strike, and teachers allegedly leaving their classes to attend union meetings.

The premier, who believed that the province was on track to meet the 80 percent pass rate target by 2014, said government would continue to expand access to and improving schooling in the province.

She reported that there were 448 Early Childhood Development sites across the province, while a total of 442 Grade R classrooms were delivered to sites across Gauteng in 2010.

"It is through investment at this level that we can begin to prepare and produce dynamic matriculants of the future," Mokonyane said.

The province has also expanded the school nutrition programme to all no-fee paying secondary schools. The total number of primary and secondary school learners that benefited from the nutrition programme during 2010 was 795 785.

Regarding health, Mokonyane said at least 21 Community Health Centres now provide a 24-hour service, waiting times have been reduced and there are now fast queues for chronic and old-age patients.

"The availability of essential medicines has improved, with dedicated vehicles to assist with emergency medication deliveries to the health institutions," the Premier said, adding that key interventions were also made to reduce infant and child mortality in the province.

Although preliminary figures indicate that the maternal mortality rate has decreased from 154 to 139 deaths per 100 000 from 2009 to 2010, more interventions where still needed.

Mokonyane said steps have been taken to improve the neo-natal wards at Charlotte Maxeke, Dr George Mukhari and Natalspruit hospitals, with additional neo-natal ICU beds and dedicated nurses.

On HIV and Aids, the Premier reported that they were providing 357 000 people with anti-retroviral treatment. The province has set out a target of 400 000 by the end of the financial year.