Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe sets the bar high for the province’s learners
The Free State is still basking in the glory of retaining its status as the best performing province in the country when it comes to National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination results.
At the beginning of the year, when Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the matric results of the class of 2017, the Free State topped the provinces with an 86.1 percent pass rate. While this was a 2.1 percent decline from the 88.2 percent in 2016, it was still the best in the country.
Free State Education MEC Tate Makgoe told PSM his main aim is to ensure that the province does not fall from grace and to motivate learners to work harder.
Gauteng's performance was hot on the heels of the Free State, coming second with a pass rate of 85 percent, which was the same as in 2016.The Western Cape's pass rate was 82.7 percent which was 3.2 percent lower than the figure for 2016.
Raising the bar
For the Free State to maintain its position, MEC Makgoe said it is crucial for the department to strengthen its relationship with relevant stakeholders.
“We must ensure that we work together with all relevant stakeholders to constantly improve performance in all grades.Teachers, parents, and learners are key stakeholders in our quest to raising the bar, closing the gap and leaving no child behind,” he said.
The MEC stressed that South Africa's future depends on its ability to improve the quality of education.
“We can only achieve our goal of the provision of quality education if we play our meaningful role in our children's education.This requires a multilateral partnership between the education department, school management and, most importantly, parents and learners,” he added.
The provincial target for the class of 2018 is a 90 percent pass rate
with 40 percent bachelor passes.
The class of 2018 will be the eleventh cohort to write the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statementaligned NSC examinations at the end of this year.
What is the Free State doing right?
Over the years, MEC Makgoe has been determined to ensure that learners who live on farms and in remote areas are not denied their right to education.This, he said, is one of the things that has helped put the province on the map two years in a row.
“The provincial department has closed down non-viable farm schools.These were schools with about 20 or less [learners] … and learners were walking long distances of about 14 kilometres and more,” he explained.
The province then embarked on the Farm Schools Hostel Project to accommodate these learners. Since the year 2000 to date, the province has built 36 farm schools hostels. In the past financial year these hostels accommodated approximately 4 978 learners.
In 2017, the MEC officially opened two hostel schools as part of the project. One is the Ventersburg farm school hostel in the Lejweleputswa District Municipality, which is about 148 kilometres north of Bloemfontein.
Another is the Sediti hostel, which is 79 kilometres outside Bloemfontein.The school is found in a small town called Thaba N'chu.
MEC Makgoe said more schools are under construction and he anticipated construction to be completed during the 2018/19 financial year.These include Grassland Primary School and Grassland Secondary School in Bloemfontein, Bekezela Primary School in Sasolburg, Mooifontein Primary School in Zastron, Rehopotswe Primary School in Bethlehem, Hani Park Primary School in Welkom, Thembalihle Primary School in Vrede and Tlholo Primary School in Botshabelo.
National School Nutrition Programme
“Teachers, parents, and learners are key stakeholders in our quest to raising the bar, closing the gap and leaving no child behind.”
With the provincial unemployment rate at 32.6 percent in December 2017, many of the province's children come from poor households that struggle to put food on the table.
This is why MEC Makgoe has ensured that the National School Nutrition Programme (NSPN) reaches all the no-fee primary and secondary schools in the province.
An initiative of the Department of Basic Education, the NSNP provides nutritious meals to more than 75 percent of the country's learners.
MEC Makgoe said the
performance of the NSNP in the province has improved due to a standardised approach.
“Schools are provided with School Specific Menus to ensure that nutritious meals that are balanced are served on time to learners as per the approved NSNP Menu and School Specific Budgets,” he explained.
The department plans to build about 23 nutrition centres throughout the province in the 2018/19 financial year.
Priorities for 2018
While the province is getting it right with the matrics, MEC Makgoe believes there is room for improvement in other areas.
“We still need to improve on early childhood development (ECD) and primary schools,” he said. It is for this reason that a number of primary schools are among those being constructed.
MEC Makgoe added he would ensure that the quality of ECD programmes is improved through increased training for pre-Grade R and Grade R practitioners.
From this year, about 300 preGrade R practitioners will study towards an NQF level 4 qualification which they are expected to complete in three years.
He added that the department has appointed the University of North West to upskill the qualifications of about 500 Grade R practitioners so that they obtain a diploma in Grade R Teaching over three years, starting in the current financial year.
The department will also focus on programmes that seek to improve learners' literacy and numeracy skills from the early to intermediate grades, as well as ensure that more schools participate in competitions that are related to such programmes.
Eradicating racism in schools
Over the years, a number of Free State schools have been in the media for racism-related incidents.
MEC Makgoe said the department is doing its best to promote transformation and integration.
He said learners' participation in sport programmes is one of the ways to address transformation or anti-racism in radical terms.
“These learners do not have room for any racial barrier as team members or opponents. Schools competitions are arranged in a way that allows all to play amongst each other in different sporting codes including rugby, cricket, athletics, netball, football, chess, gymnastics, aquatics and others,” said the MEC.
Over and above efforts made through sports, the MEC said the department encourages schools to have programmes that promote social cohesion and celebrate the national days and symbols through various programmes.
Free State Education MECTate Makgoe.