Address by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, MP, on the Occasion of the Release of the 2017/18 School Monitoring Survey held at the GCIS Conference Centre, Pretoria
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen,
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to address you this morning as we officially release the results of the 2017 School Monitoring Survey.
This is a scientifically sound and independent barometer to measure the success or lack thereof of the basic education sector.
The 2017 Survey was conducted in a nationally representative sample of 1000 schools offering Grade 6, as well as in a nationally representative sample of 1000 schools offering Grade 12.
Only schools categorised as public ordinary schools formed part of the sample.
We use the survey results to improve our planning in a bid to turbocharge the system towards greater efficiency. It looks at the overall health of the system. It is no performance management tool for our teachers and officials. Most importantly, the Survey focusses on gathering information which is not available in other data sets such as those collected by Stats SA.
The Survey focuses on the publicly available policy documents such as the Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, and the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019.
Today, we are releasing the full set of reports for the 2017 School Monitoring Survey.
We did this survey so that we can have an arm’s length and helicopter view of the progress and challenges in the sector since the last survey of 2011.
Secondly, we did the survey in a view of this administration’s impending 25 Year Review of service delivery progress and challenges since the advent of democracy in 1994.
We know that the survey results will cause some discomfort in certain quarters. We have always insisted that the basic education sector ought to be judged on universal accepted benchmarks not the whimsical whims of some among us. The 2017 Survey fortifies our resolve to use evidence based data for management and planning.
I know, it’s a silly season as they call the electioneering period, but this is not my swansong. The selection of the sample of schools, data collection and the report writing was carried out by an independent service provider.
The aim here is to take the nation into our confidence regarding what is arguably the most important sector, .i.e., basic education.
We are saying to the nation, this is how far we have progressed as a sector. We are the first ones to acknowledge that much more needs to be done. So make no mistake and say we are here for politicking.
In a nutshell, let me give you some takeaways from the 2017 Survey. More learners in poor and rural schools have access to libraries compared to 2011.
The Survey concludes that at a national level, learners’ access to libraries increased significantly from 45% in 2011 to 62% in 2017.
This of course as a result of a relentless focus of the department through the 1 000 per year School Libraries Project and Read to Lead Campaign.
In this regard, we thank our partners including the Department of Arts and Culture for this achievement. I must put on record that the business sector has been a star performer in supporting these two vital programmes. We applaud this collaboration between Government and private sector.
The Survey recorded no discernable difference in districts’ support to schools since 2011. However, the Survey notes that these visits are now structured, predictable and add value. A substantively larger percentage of secondary schools (94%) than primary schools (80%) received at least two visits from district officials in 2017.
We also note with apprehension that the 2017 Survey found no discernable change in the rate of teacher absence, since 2011.
The Survey recorded an increase in the national aggregate absence (from 8% to 10%) on an average day.
This deeply troubling. We must do more to support our teachers. There’s a need to drill deeper into the statistics to understand this leave of absence phenomenon.
However, we must congratulate the provinces of Limpopo (6%) and Free State (7%) for registering the lowest rate of teacher absence during the period under review.
This brings me to the subject that is close to my heart: Teacher Development.
The 2017 Survey says the overall average hours of professional development per teacher per year reflected an improvement since 2011, up from 36 to 42 hours. This isn’t good enough. Our target for 2024 is 80 hours per year per teacher.
However, we congratulate the following provinces for registering an increase in hours dedicated to teacher development, Limpopo, recorded an increase of 22 hours on average, Gauteng 37 hours on average and the Western Cape reported an increase of 57 hours on average.
Our investment in new teacher training through the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme is beginning to show some interesting results as more vacant posts are filled today compared to 2011. The national average for filled teaching posts (primary and secondary schools combined) increased from 69% to 78% since the 2011 survey.
Unfortunately, parents are dropping the ball. School Governing Bodies that met the minimum criteria of effectiveness stands at 65% in primary schools, and at a low of 55% in secondary schools.
The good news though is that the level of compliance has increased significantly from 54% in 2011 to 62% in 2017.
We must get parents involved in the education of their children. Parental involvement is vital to the child overall success in life. Parents are the first educators of their children. The support they provide affects their child’s learning and development and linked to subsequent educational outcomes, says UNESCO. This is the universal truth. So I am making an earnest appeal to parents to show up and be counted.
I am glad to report that we have turned the corner in the delivery of the Learner Teaching Support Material (LTSM).
The 2017 Survey notes that approximately 95% of learners across all quintiles had access to their own workbooks in both the Home Language and Mathematics.
Our workbook programme, which has been rolled out and expanded since 2011, has clearly contributed to a massive increase in the availability and use of learning materials in South African classrooms.
Similarly, access to textbooks was consistently high hovering around 80 percent in key subjects.
The bugbear in the sector remains the physical infrastructure. The Survey confirms my assertion that the present infrastructure delivery model isn’t appropriate for basic education.
We need to rethink the whole infrastructure funding, delivery, planning and maintenance as a country.
The 2017 Survey notes that nationally, only 59% of schools complied with all the determined minimum physical infrastructure standards. More worrying is that only 76% of schools had running water and 80% had adequately functioning sanitation. This value was only marginally improved from 2011.
This is despite some notable progress in the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) model. As you know this is a nationally mandated programme to eradicate inappropriate structures.
Nationally, we have completed 216 new state-of-the-art schools since 2011 under ASIDI. We have more than 100 state-of-the-art schools under construction as we speak.
Generally, we have added some 38 664 additional classrooms and over 1200 new schools since 2000.
At least on issue of sanitation, we have managed to break through the glass ceiling. As you know the President has made money available to eradicate pit latrines within three years.
In conclusion, the work we are doing is not for ourselves. I have never initiated any government project as some sort of legacy for my person. I was called to serve the nation.
Together with MECs, officials, teachers, and social partners, we have discharged our duties with honour and humility.
We accept our shortcomings and stand ready for criticism. The results of this survey are mixed bag. There’s still more work that needs to be done.
I have directed that the full 2017 Survey results be made publicly available so that we can rightly so be criticised on the basis of facts not hearsay.
As a country, we need all hands on deck if we are reach our goal of running a high performing basic education system.
I thank you.