23 August 2011
Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga
Members of the Media
Welcome to this Human Development Cluster briefing. In our previous cluster media briefing we reported on our plans for the year ahead. This is part of our continued feedback on achievements, challenges, and what still needs to be done.
Government has prioritized education and health as the lead priorities for the next five years and beyond. During our recent Cabinet Lekgotla meeting, key resolutions affecting this cluster were adopted. The focus of this briefing is to update you on the outcome of the Lekgotla, specifically matters relating to the Human development Cluster.
A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE FOR ALL SOUTH AFRICANS
Given the intensive engagement that the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, has been having with the media over the past few weeks, it has been decided that this briefing will just highlight a few critical delivery issues that are already in the public domain.
As most of you would know, the National Health Insurance (NHI) green paper was released recently for public comment and government as a whole is encouraged by the active engagement that South Africans are having with this document.
The Department of Health also released for comment regulations for the classification of our hospitals and their management as part of ensuring that all our public hospitals are managed at appropriate seniority levels and by the right people. The Department had also released for comment human resources for health strategy with key proposals on how human resources will be developed as part of ensuring that the country is able to produce sufficient human resources for health, especially as the country moves towards the NHI.
In terms of the performance of the country’s hospitals, an audit is currently underway assessing exactly how our hospitals are performing. Members of the media were hosted by the Department a few days ago and were shown how this audit is performed, which areas have been covered and what aspects are being looked at.
This past week there were major interventions made by the Department of Health in improving the infrastructure challenges that have been experienced at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital which is one of our key national assets.
TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF BASIC EDUCATION
Today, we are 61 days away from the start of the 2011 grade 12 examinations. Our examinations unit has just concluded an audit, confirming the readiness of Provinces to conduct the examinations.
Our challenges in basic education are multifaceted and complex. In February this year I announced our plan to take forward the President’s directive of emphasis on the 3 Ts: teachers, texts and time. These are linked to our Action Plan to 2014 and Delivery Agreement.
In order to address some of the challenges in this regard, we established targets for grades 3, 6, 9 and 12 and conducted the first countrywide Annual National Assessment (ANA) which involved approximately 6 million learners in grades 1-6 in February 2011. The results were released on 28 June 2011.
ANA has provided the Department with important information that is assisting us in identifying areas where urgent attention is required in order to improve success levels of learners.
Our interventions include working sessions with role players in each of the provinces to discuss the ANA findings, explore further possible analysis to extract detailed information from the data and discussion of guidelines on how to utilize the data for interventions and target setting. DBE has already developed the guidelines and is currently distributing these to schools.
DBE has completed the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) and will incorporate them into the Foundation Phase and Grade 10 in 2012. The department has trained subject advisors and the provinces are continuing with the training of teachers. Based on what the ANA results show, there would be a more scripted approach to teacher development. This will include training and support to teachers to help them manage and use efficient methods to teach specific content areas that the assessment has shown to be particularly challenging to learners.
Teachers are central to the success of the new approach that DBE is adopting. Here the focus is firmly on a more targeted, subject-specific teacher education and development that will improve teacher content knowledge. DBE is also strengthening the campaign to attract young people to the teaching profession through our Funza Lushaka Bursary programme. From the 1st September we embark on a recruitment campaign to recruit the best young people to the teaching profession.
In addition, as part of the efforts to strengthen accountability in the system, DBE is working closely with the Education Labour Relations Council to develop performance management contracts with our principals and deputy principals. Effective school management and leadership are key factors in ensuring effective schooling. DBE is strongly looking at strengthening even the appointment procedures for school principals.
All principals and deputy principals will enter into performance contracts in the future with clear performance targets. This will help to strengthen accountability in and district support for schools- that is often poor or lacking.
Lekgotla resolutions on Education
Our Lekgotla resolutions revolve around two issues:
- Accelerating the Provision of Universal Basic Services, including eradication of infrastructure backlogs, provision of sporting facilities, and national planning and procurement for provision of infrastructure, textbooks and stationery
- Improving monitoring, support and accountability in the schooling system, including mechanisms for improved teacher accountability, and involvement in school improvement activities in line with the NEDLAC accord
Key to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s resolve is the assertion that education and training are central in improving the requisite skills that will ensure an effective response to the needs of the labour market and social equity, and ensuring inclusive beneficiation in the economy.
The adoption of the New Growth Path by government and the focus on creating jobs is largely a recognition that poverty, inequality and social inequities stem from the exclusion of the majority from the labour market. Skills shortages continue to be one of the key constraints of economic growth and transformation of our economy and labour market.
An acute observation that has been made by Government is that the South African labour market is plagued by skills shortages that constrain the economy’s potential growth. In this regard, as part of its ongoing efforts to improve the new Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) landscape, the department has initiated possible interventions that seek to increase access to training and skills development opportunities.
The launch of the new SETA landscape has led to the restructuring of the SETAs on 1 April 2011 to improve governance, administration with a focus on meeting sectoral skill needs and increase training levels overall. A standard constitution for all SETAs was introduced to ensure that there is consistency and alignment with regard to the functioning of SETAs.
In pursuit of the Department of Higher Education and Training’s goals, the SETA landscape has been configured. SETAs have been reduced from 23 to 21, in an effort to streamline them and synergise their work; measures have also been taken to strengthen the manner in which they are governed;
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NESFAS)
Further changes aimed at making higher education more affordable have been initiated by the Department. In future, NSFAS will not start charging interest on student loans until 12 months after a student has graduated or left university. This will apply to all the NSFAS loans to students registered on 1 April 2011 and moving forward.
A further R50 million has been provided for postgraduate students who require financial assistance to complete their Honours, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. These students will enter into loans agreements with NSFAS and the money they pay back will be earmarked to fund future postgraduate students. The Department of Higher Education and Training had also asked NSFAS to remove from the credit bureau all students they have blacklisted; this particularly applies to students who are recipients of NSFAS loans.
On the transformation of universities, a Ministerial Committee, chaired by Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, has been established to review the funding framework of universities and make recommendations thereon taking into account the needs of universities over the next 15 years. As part of its work, it will also consider ways of improving the funding framework to ensure strengthen rural institutions and that historically disadvantaged students are supported within the system. The Ministry has also allocated R686 million for the 2010 to 2012 period to address accommodation needs, including more student residences on campuses.
Two Task Teams were established in 2010 to do a feasibility study on the establishment of new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. My department has received the final draft reports from the two task teams and is in the process of analyzing these and developing a full implementation plan. Work is progressing well within the establishment of these two new universities and it is expected that the plan will be ready at the end of November 2011. I will thereafter announce the final arrangements.
The final report from the Task Team looking into the development of health sciences at Medunsa and the University of Limpopo, was published in the Government Gazette and the Council on Higher Education (CHE) advice was requested on the process. The CHE’s report is expected in the next day or two. Draft Terms of Reference for a Task Team have been prepared and will be finalised after receiving the advice from the CHE. We expect that the technical work towards the unbundling of the University of Limpopo and Medunsa will begin in early September 2011. It is envisaged that in the long term Medunsa will become part of a new single-purpose Health and Allied Sciences University, and that a new medical school will be established in Polokwane to cater for the growing need there.
While the public university system is relatively stable and growing, governance and management aspects within certain of the higher education institutions do remain a challenge.
Appointment of an Administrator for Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)
The recent development at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) around the appointment of a Vice Chancellor whose qualification is not recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has seriously compromised the academic integrity and reputation of the university in particular.
Council members, at a meeting held on 29 July 2011, were requested to submit their positions on the Minister’s decision to appoint and Administrator by 5 August 2011. Submissions and correspondence received from Council members confirmed that critical findings concerning governance, management and human resources made by the Independent Assessor have not been addressed.
After careful consideration, the Minister for Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, appointed Professor Mosia as the Administrator for the Tshwane University of Technology, in terms of Section 41A of the Higher Education Act, 1997, as amended. Professor Mosia has substantial experience as Registrar at North West University.
The terms of reference of the Administrator has been published in the Government Gazette.
The new Administrator commenced duty on Monday, 16 August 2011 and the university is fully functional and teaching and learning is proceeding normally.
Similarly, on 12 July 2011, Minister Blade Nzimande met with the full Council of the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) to discuss the problems being encountered by the institution and consult on the best way forward. At the meeting, it was recognized that many of the problems at WSU are structural and systematic, and are historical symptoms.
Consequently, after consulting with the Council of WSU, the Minister decided to appoint an Independent Assessor to assess the nature and extent of the challenges confronting the institution, and to make recommendations on the way forward towards ensuring that WSU takes its rightful place as a strong and well managed rural comprehensive higher education institution.
The Minister recognizes the strategic importance of Walter Sisulu University and the department is currently working with the university Council, management and other key stakeholders to ensure that measures are put in place to facilitate a smooth operation of the university.
Moreover, the Department also put the University of Zululand under administration. Professor de Beer was appointed as Administrator on 18 April 2011 after the University Council was disbanded.
The disbanding of the council was based on findings from an independent assessor’s report prepared by Prof. Hugh Africa.
Key Issues Deliberated During Cabinet Lekgotla
At the recent Cabinet Lekgotla, it was noted that there is a mismatch between the supply and demand of skills for specific educational categories in terms of the expanded unemployment rate. The South African labour market is also plagued by skills shortages that constrain the economy’s growth potential.
With this in mind, the Lekgotla resolved on the following key matters:
- Extending the provision of free education to cover students in other years of study must be examined fully;
- Covering the full cost of study for (poor) students in scarce skills areas, in all the years of study must be effected, but there should be guarding against the downgrading of Social Science programme provision;
- Post graduate students must be supported through NSFAS in order to develop a new generation of academics, in addition to NRF initiatives;
- Efforts to promote research and development in Higher Education institutions should be intensified;
- Those who have completed their studies must pay back their loans so that other students can also be supported;
- Accommodation in the post school system must be given attention as an area of urgent necessity, as only 18.5% of student population is accommodated in university residences;
- Government must ensure that all infrastructure programmes are linked to skills training and workplace experiential learning. There is a need to closely monitor the implementation of such skills plans throughout the duration of these projects;
- The Public Service Sector SETA (PSETA) must be strengthened and repositioned to play a more effective role in skills training for public service;
- All government departments must pay skills levies, as required by law; and
- The intake of interns into the public service, municipalities and SOEs should be expanded. The training space within the public service, as the largest single employer, also needs to be fully utilised.
The Human Development Cluster values your support as the media and where possible, we’ll try to arrange through GCIS follow up interviews with Ministers who are not present today.
I thank you!
For inquiries contact:
Penny Ntuli (Ms)
Chief Director: Cluster Coordinator, GCIS
076 794 9120
Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)