Provin­cial fo­cus

Public Sector Manager - - Contents -

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.

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