Motshekga overhauls system in bid to boost education

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cape Town - The commitment and hard work of teachers and school governing bodies is key to making some schools more successful than others, despite a backlog of R140 billion of schools that still need to be built, says Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.

Briefing the media on plans government's human development cluster had to boost the quality of education, Motshekga said her department was looking at rolling out scholar transport to pupils in rural areas and was in talks with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and the National Treasury to find ways to increase the amount of funding necessary to build new schools.

The department wants all children to enrol for Grade R and plans to increase the number of Grade 12 students who pass matric exams and who qualify for university from 105 000 to 175 00 by 2014.

The department also wants to increase the number of Grade 12 students who pass maths and science exams from 165 000 to 225 000 by 2014 and wants to double the number of learners in Grade 3, 6 and 9 in public schools who obtain the minimum acceptable marks.

Motshekga said the department had also agreed with unions to reduce the number of strike hours. The administrative burden of continuous task assessment has been reduced too.

Each school will now be able to set their own continuous task assessments which will be externally moderated.

Learning and teaching packs for Grade R teachers, containing lesson plans, learners' workbooks and story books among other things, had been distributed to all 13 900 schools that offer Grade R.

While the department's Rapid Assessment and Remediation Initiative targeted schools which had a matric pass rate of below 20%, the department had also introduced an assessment for grades 3, 6 and 9 in an effort to lay a sold foundation of learning and to measure the success of interventions in literacy and numeracy.

The department is also distributing additional study materials to grade 12s through the provincial education departments and is monitoring schools on a monthly basis, said Motshekga.

The department's National Education Evaluation and Development Unit which will monitor the national department and provincial education departments, districts, schools and classroom practices, will come into operation in the next few weeks.

Following a national teacher development summit last year, the department is also expecting proposals and recommendations from the working groups to develop an integrated National Teacher Development Plan by the end of this month, said Motshekga.