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Minister Angie Motshekga: Media briefing ahead of Basic Education Budget Vote 2017/18

24 May 2017

Statement by the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga Post CEM in Parliament, Cape Town

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning and thank you for joining us here this morning both in here in Parliament and those who are linking up with us from Pretoria.

This briefing takes place on the back of CEM which took place in Pretoria last week Thursday. It also happens a day after we have briefed the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and indeed this afternoon we are going to table our Budget Vote for 2017/18.

It is for this reason that we feel the need to update the nation about various developments in the sector. We are giving you a progress report focusing on our priorities as well as an outline of plans going forward. The details will be made available in the Budget Vote later today.

Lets start with the outcomes of the Council of Education Ministers. As I said CEM met last week to discuss pressing issues and take key decisions related to the education sector.

The meeting was well represented and it is pleasing that Education MEC’s take time out of their busy schedules to attend this important and often gruelling meeting.

Last week’s meeting was no exception, one issue raised sharply by the MEC’s and that is of extreme concern to me personally as well, is the issue of safety and security in and around schools. It is a matter that continues to raise its ugly head in our places of education and a matter that has featured in many CEM meetings.

The fact that in many instances our teachers and learners are not safe in schools due to criminality is not acceptable, we have even had instances where teachers have been killed in front of learners. We have learners who are the victim of crime in and around schools and our schools are targeted by criminals and vandals who steal vital education equipment.

CEM resolved that we need to work more closely with the police to address these matters and ensure that criminals targeting or operating in or around our schools are arrested and convicted. We need to ensure that our schools are safe spaces conducive to learning and teaching. CEM took the decision that the DG of Basic Education, Mr Mathanzima Mweli is to set up a meeting with the National Police Commissioner to find a way to work together and address these persistent issues of criminality.

Education is one of the most important building blocks on which an equitable, inclusive and developmental society is built. In order for positive educational outcomes to be realised certain preconditions need to exist. One of these preconditions is that learners and educators are, and feel safe in schools. Unfortunately as the Education Department there is only so much we can do and for this reason we need to seriously engage the Justice Department and the SAPS to work with us to meet this objective.

Public examinations

Various elements relating to public examinations and the strengthening of these were discussed by CEM.

The DBE has endeavoured over the last three years to ensure reliable and valid marking of the NSC examinations through the incremental introduction of a range of complementary enhancements to improve the standard and quality of marking.

Umalusi noted improvements in the marking for the 2016 NSC and we have seen improved accuracy and consistency in marking since 2014, however despite this we acknowledge that there are still challenges associated with the process of marker appointment in the various provinces as it relates to the calibre and competency of the markers appointed.

CEM approved a proposal to phase in a new model of training and registration of markers that will lead to a revamp of the marker recruitment process in all provinces and improved competency of markers.

The model, which is aimed at improving the quality of markers appointed, incorporates the following key components:

  1. Preliminary Selection of Eligible Markers.
  2. Intensive Training Programme for Eligible Markers
  3. Evaluation of the Competency of Eligible Markers
  4. Registration of Approved Markers
  5. Appointment of Markers for a  Specific Marking Session

The major cost driver relating to this model of training is the four day training programme, which will culminate in a testing of marker competency, on day 5. Given that marker training is part of teacher training, it is proposed that the ETDP SETA be approached to fund this training programme over the next four years.

We will consult teacher unions on this model and give them the opportunity to make inputs.

Staying with public examinations CEM also discussed Progress and Implementation of the National Integrated Assessment Framework (NIAF).

The proposed new NIAF was structured on offering elements that integrate diagnostic assessment tools, summative examinations and independently administered systemic evaluations. A costed project plan for implementing the model in the next three financial years was approved by the Director-General in November last year. An implementation plan on the three tiers of the NIAF has been designed to include:

(a). Diagnostic Tests which are content area focused (based on test items from different topics designed to assist teachers to identify and remediate learning gaps. The first batch of diagnostic tests will be distributed to schools at the beginning of the second quarter of this year.

(b). A Systemic Evaluation which is conducted once every three years to a sample of learners at Grades 3, 6 and 9. The first cycle will commence in 2018 and,

(c). A national Summative Assessment which will form part of the end of year examination conducted at schools at Grades 6 and 9. A pilot study on test items to be used in the Summative Assessment will be conducted this year and the system readiness for using the Summative Assessment as part of the progression and promotion of learners will be piloted in 2018. The first cycle of the Summative Assessment will be implemented in 2019.

Still on examinations, last year CEM approved a proposal to conduct an exploratory study on the establishment of a National Examinations Council (NEC) that is independent of the national and provincial education departments. At the last CEM this proposal was taken a step further with the approval to appoint consultants, who are experts in the fields related to this study. These experts will be appointed on a short term contract to conduct this investigation and formulate a concept document on the mechanics of setting up and implementing a National Examination Council. The work will focus on specific areas which include:

(a). The international research and best practice models on countries that have set up a NEC relating to public examinations.

(b). The policy implications of setting up and implementing an NEC structure and what would be the roles of Department of Education (DBE) and Provincial Education Departments (PEDs).

(c). The design of the most appropriate model of an examination board, for the South African context, in terms of organisational structure, administration and quality assurance?

(d). The costing of the current examination arrangement across the DBE and the nine PEDs, inclusive of Umalusi and the costing of the new arrangement for each of the parties concerned.

We are looking forward to reporting back to you when a final decision has been made regarding the establishment of a National Examinations Council and if this would be a viable option for us here in South Africa.

Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL)

The IIAL is a priority programme aimed at promoting some aspects of social cohesion in our society. The IIAL was piloted in Grades 1-2 in 264 schools in 2014 and 2015 across all provinces. In 2016, the IIAL was implemented in 842 schools.

Education MEC’s committed in the meeting that IIAL was a priority for the Department and to the universal implementation of IIAL in Grade 1 will be met according to the proposed time frames. This will apply to all schools not offering a marginalized African Language. Some of the challenges have been the provision of African Language teachers but the discussion at CEM suggested that provinces can make use of roving African Language teachers that can operate between different schools as well as the use of ICT to ensure that this project is rolled out as envisioned. Some provinces have already made impressive progress in this regard and will share their experiences with Provinces who are struggling with the rollout of this project.

The 2017 IIAL target is set at 50%, which translates to 1 779 schools. Currently there are 978 schools that are implementing. Northern Cape and Free State are currently implementing the IIAL at 90% and 89% respectively. Limpopo reported that there are only 5 schools left to reach 100%. The DBE is awaiting an official correspondence to that effect. Gauteng (36%) and KZN (46%) are striving to reach their 2017 target of 50%. The Western Cape and Mpumalanga are of great concern and have not shown the expected commitment to the programme with only 1.2% and 2.2% respectfully. However in CEM they endeavoured to meet the 50% target.

Second chance matric support programme

CEM received a progress report on the impact of the Second Chance Matric Support Programme. The objective of the Second Chance Matric Programme is to offer young people who have failed to meet the requirements of the NSC/SC as well as those who wish to upgrade or improve their NSC. It is essentially a second chance to obtain an improved or matric qualification thereby improving their prospects at a better quality of life.

As a result of the programme last year we can report that there has been an increase in the uptake of post school NSC examinations in all provinces. It is the first time in five years that we have seen such an increase.  

We have seen substantial increases in KZN (6 739), and Limpopo (4 987) who offered face to face lessons for the November examinations as well as the Northern Cape (2 138). In addition there were substantial increases in the results of the eight pilot subjects from 2015 to 2016.

We continue our advocacy work in regards to this programme and I am currently on a country wide Road Show to promote the Second Chance Matric Support programme and get feedback on how it is being received on the ground in a bid to improve the roll out as we continue to work on the programme. I have visited three provinces thus far and will be visiting all 9 provinces before the end of the year. I am excited to report that the level of enthusiasm we have encountered for this programme by people who have indicated their desire to take part has reaffirmed the need for the Second Chance Matric Support programme, and the value placed on the Matric qualification.

Support for those on the programme includes:

  • Face to Face lessons at some venues.
  • Multi-Media broadcasting solutions, these include telematics in some provinces. Internet Broadcasting, the DBE television channel broadcasts lessons on both Open View HD and DSTV. The Open View HD channel 201 is currently at 36 venues nationally but privately is in the homes of 500 000 households and DSTV channel 319 is currently in 4.5 million households. We are also using the SABC Education Geleza Nathi which is on SABC 1 from 5am to 6am daily and repeats at 11 pm. These can also be accessed on their YouTube Channel.
  • Digital online course via the internet. An online course to support learners has been made available online throughout the year. It is compatible with all devices and is also available offline at public libraries and community centres. Vodacom has also assisted with fantastic lessons via their Vodacom e-school learning site. What is great about this is that for Vodacom subscribers accessing this site has been zero rated so no data costs apply.
  • We are also providing printed resources which are available for learners at district offices.

There are various mechanisms where learners can access the various content and partners like our public libraries as well as the NYDA Internet cafes are available for those on the programme to utilize.

Progress on three stream model

CEM received a progress report on the implementation of the Technical Vocational Stream which commenced in January 2016 at grade 10 in 585 schools with over 37 000 learners taking up the Technical subjects. 1 660 teachers and Subject Advisors were trained on Technical Subjects’ Specialisations, and 203 on Technical Sciences; and 228 Technical Maths. Subject Advisors were trained in preparation for the implementation at grade 10.

During the course of 2016, 1 647 grade 11 Subject Advisors and teachers were trained on Technical Subjects’ Specialisations and 345 trained in Technical Mathematics and Technical Physical Sciences in preparation for implementation at Grade 11 this year.

Preparation of the system for implementation of the Technical Vocational Stream at Grade 12 in 2018, are currently underway.

26 draft Technical Occupational Subjects were developed and finalised in 2016. 67 Schools of Skill were selected for piloting the Technical Occupational subjects this year. An audit of the Schools of Skill was instituted in October last year in order to prepare for the pilot. Training Manuals per subject were developed and were used for the orientation of teachers and Subject Advisors, that constitute a national training team (NTT) that will take the orientation process to the level of the school between March and April 2017. 261 teachers and Subject Advisors were oriented into the subjects earlier in the year.

It was agreed by CEM that the three stream model of our education system is vitally important for the future of South Africa and that with this in mind it needs to be adequately funded to ensure that it is effective. The necessary engagements will be made with treasury to ensure that this is done.

Rationalisation on small-unviable schools

A National Project Team has been established and a project team has been appointed to provide oversight, support and monitoring of the implementation of the rationalisation process by PEDs. 

We need to make sure that when we rationalize these schools we do it properly so that no child is left behind as a result. It is for this reason that as National Government we are monitoring these processes very closely and providing the requisite support to provincial departments. In the end the purpose of this process is to ensure that we can deliver high quality education to these learners.

The CEM was briefed on progress on support provided to rural schools, including multi-grade and farm schools. This is based on the multi-disciplinary approach that has been adopted to provide support to these rural schools. Through this approach,  the Department of Basic Education  has committed to improving the quality of rural education through undertaking several initiatives aimed at promoting access, equity and strengthening support to rural schools including multi-grade and farm schools.  

Provinces are currently at various stages of the legal process. The Eastern Cape has the most schools, it’s identified 2077 schools designated as small and non-viable.

We are aware that we will not be able to eliminate multi-grade schools completely. We have a support basket that we will provide for those schools that cannot be rationalized. This support will include eLearning options as well as resources such as hardware in the form of laptops and tablets, software, multi-media content in the various subjects, have already been provided to a number of schools.

The DBE is in the process of developing a Rural Education Policy that will assist the sector in:

  • Giving direction in what the sector should advocate and promote in pursuit of closing the disparities between rural schools and urban schools and within rural schools;
  • Giving guidance to the development of context-specific, relevant and sustainable strategies to deal with the monumental challenges in rural schools; and
  • Providing a framework for improving the quality of education in rural schools that will allow for meaningful strategies and pragmatic intervention to improve the quality of education in these schools.


CEM received a comprehensive report on plans to strengthen the delivery of school infrastructure this focused on measures to improve the efficiency around spending of infrastructure budgets. Since 2009 Government has built a total of 920 schools through both the ASIDI programme and the various provincial infrastructure projects. The biggest beneficiary of these new schools has been the Eastern Cape with a total of 334 schools delivered in that time period. CEM received a breakdown of all current infrastructure projects and their status. The report also highlighted some areas where the delivery of infrastructure could be improved, this included better contract management, the clustering of projects as well as improved efficiency of processes and the fast tracking of approval processes, among other things.

Social cohesion and learner well being

Social cohesion continues to be an area of critical importance as we strive to build our nation. While many view this area of our work in Education as a soft issue, it is actually vitally important that we get it right.

The purpose of the Social Cohesion programmes is to create a rights-based, socially cohesive and educationally conducive environment to support teaching and learning. Through this approach, the DBE strives towards elevating the importance of institutional settings that acknowledge the existence of active citizenship and lays a firm foundation for social and economic development of the country.

Through the social cohesion programmes, the DBE intends to nurture learners’ attitudes and shaping their minds and belief systems in accordance with the values as enshrined in our Constitution.

The DBE Social Cohesion programmes include: iNkosi Albert Luthuli Oral Hitsory Programme, National Schools Moot Court, National Heritage, Youth Citizenry, Future Career Choices Campaign and Gender Empowerment programmes.

The DBE also utilises the opportunity of Sport and Enrichment programmes to directly or indirectly drive the social cohesion agenda. The sport and enrichment programmes include Spelling Bee South Africa and Reading Clubs, School Sport Leagues (which include the KAY Motsepe Schools Cup), ABC Motsepe Schools Choral Eisteddfod, Physical Education (which would include UNESCO Quality Physical Education and Let’s Play Physical Education Challenge projects).

With the exception of Gender Empowerment programmes, all of these programmes start with mass local participation in January at a school level and culminate to a national event at various times during the year.

CEM has previously discussed non-participation and non-representivity of schools in DBE-led social cohesion and enrichment programmes. The DBE has proposed to implement a parallel Advocacy Campaign for social cohesion and enrichment programmes, which is an attempt to encourage participation of public schools in the Enrichment and Social Cohesion programmes.

The Advocacy Campaign will be undertaken through a DBE Circular directed to Heads of Provincial Education Departments, District Directors, Principals of all South African Public Schools and School Governing Bodies.  The Circular details the key elements of each of the programmes like a short description of what the programme is about, how to participate and full contact details of the project managers. We want to see maximum participation in all of these events as we break down stereotypes of race or other prejudices and built our nation.

Portfolio Committee

As I mentioned earlier the DBE, joined by officials from the Transport Department briefed the Basic Education Portfolio Committee in Parliament on the progress made in the provision of learner transport.

The Committee heard that Norms and Standards and an operational guideline for the learner transport policy has been developed by the Department of Transport. Assessment of costing and funding for policy implementation is currently ongoing. Development of a standardized model contract to guide contracting authorities has been developed. Both the Basic Education Department and the Transport Department are closely monitoring the roll out of the Learner Transport Programmes.

The policy provides for the establishment of the National Inter-Departmental Committee (NIDC) to oversee the implementation of the learner transport programme. The committee is comprised of national and Provincial Departments of Transport and education. The Committee meets on quarterly basis to receive progress on the implementation of the learner transport programme. The committee reports to myself the Minister of Basic Education and the Minister of Transport. To this end, the NIDC has been established and four (4) meetings were held for the 2016/17 financial year. Reports from the NIDC have been submitted.

Currently according to the National Learner Transport Policy the beneficiaries of subsidized learner transport services need to be in line with the following criteria:

  • Beneficiaries must be needy learners from Grade R to Grade 12.
  • Learner transport will be subsidized to the nearest appropriate school only, and not to a school of parental choice. (This is if the nearest school is more than 5km away)
  • Priority must be given to learners with disabilities, taking into account the nature of the disability.
  • Priority must be given to primary schools learners who walk long distances to schools.
  • Existing learner transport services must be taken into account when identifying beneficiaries as no learner transport services will be provided in areas where public transport is available in order to avoid duplication of services and resources.

Based on this criteria the Committee was given a report on the number of learners transported over the last year. You see the numbers in the statement so I won’t go through them now.

Learner Transport Provision 2017/18


No of learners identified  2017/18

Target to be transported  2017/18

Budget  2017/18

Eastern Cape

106 551

77 237

R    498,000,000.00

Free State

10 689

10 689

R      40,000,000.00


109 618

109 618

R    779,076,000.00


90 000

47 747

R    190,000,000.00


40 268

34 049

R    274,000,000.00


60 256

60 119

R    467,448,000.00

Northern Cape

26 853

24 750

R    125,310,000.00

North West

54 059

37 371

R    287,100,000.00

Western Cape

58 000

58 000

R    380,047,000.00


556 294

459 580

R  3,040,981,000.00

Equal Education was present at the meeting and provided a submission to the Portfolio Committee making the case for a conditional grant for Learner Transport. While the Department disputes the figures put forward in the Equal Education submission as grossly incorrect, the Deputy Minister indicated in the meeting that the Department is open to looking at a case for the ring fencing of the learner transport budget in the form of a conditional grant to ensure that the budget is spent in the area it is intended for. The relevant engagement will be untaken with treasury to see if this is a possibility.