South Africa considers compulsory pre-schooling

24 July 2014

The government plans to conduct a review of the relevent legislation that could make it compulsory for all South African children to receive at least two years of pre-school education, says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Speaking to journalists ahead of her department’s budget vote in Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, Motshekga said the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) underlined the need for for all children to have at least two years of pre-school education.

“The [African National Congress], in its manifesto, echoes this sentiment of making two years of pre-school education compulsory,” the minister said.

“Due to success in rolling out early childhood development (ECD) programmes, a legislative review to make schooling for young people aged five to 15 years compulsory is on the cards.”

The minister said that a national curriculum framework for children under the age of four years would be piloted in September and rolled out at registered ECD centres from January 2015. “All preparations, like practitioner training and supply of resources, have already started, and will be completed this calendar year.”

Motshekga said the first ever impact evaluation of Grade R on learning outcomes was conducted in 2013, and a report was presented to Cabinet in March. “In response to the recommendations made, a management plan has been approved to strengthen the quality of implementation of Grade R schooling in our country, especially in relation to teaching.”

Teacher development ‘a major focus area’

Motshekga also announced that, in line with the NDP’s aim to improve results, especially in maths and science, teacher development would be one of her department’s major focus areas over the next five years.

This would include ensuring that the conditions of service, recruitment, deployment and development of teachers was closely monitored and properly implemented.

In addition, following a recommendation by President Jacob Zuma, a ministerial task team on reading, maths, science and technology had been integrated into the department’s plans.

“All of us involved in this sector know very well that in order for us to improve the quality of our education outcomes, instruction has to improve,” she said.