17 February 2012
More South African youngsters are completing grade 9 – from 80% in 2003 to 88% in 2010 – and more are successfully completing their grade 12, with over 24% now qualifying for university entrance, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Friday.
South Africa has also doubled grade R enrolment from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000 last year, with over 12-million learners now being accommodated in the country’s schooling system.
“We have built a relatively stable schooling system that has extended the right to basic education … we are set to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals on expanding access to education,” Motshekga told a media briefing in Cape Town.
New school buildings for the Eastern Cape
She announced that contractors had been appointed for the construction of 49 schools in the Eastern Cape to replace mud structures which have been partly blamed for the high learner drop-out rate in the province.
There are 126 mud schools in the Mount Frere area alone, with Motshekga saying it would take the country more than 20 years to address the backlog.
This is despite policy improvements by government, including the implementation of the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, which had overseen the construction of 1 648 classrooms and the provision of sanitation and electricity to more than 700 schools countrywide.
To improve universal access to education, Motshekga said the department had made inroads in ensuring that free schooling and school meals reached as many poor schools as possible. Currently, over eight-million learners in more than 80% of public schools were benefiting from the no-fee policy, the majority in the Limpopo, Free State and Eastern Cape provinces.
Provision of workbooks, textbooks
The department had also made progress on the provision of learning and teaching support material.
Over six-million workbooks and 24-million books in all South African languages were distributed to schools this year.
Motshekga raised concerns about the high number of drop-outs in the country’s schools, which she attributed to poverty and poor academic performance. Poor teaching and school and ineffective school management were also to blame for the high drop-out rate.
During his State of the Nation address last Thursday, President Jacob Zuma urged teacher unions to ensure that they worked with education officials in ensuring that teachers were well-prepared, calling for a focus on the so called Triple T – teachers, textbooks and time.
“Processes are being finalised to evaluate principals and deputy principals, inaugurating a new era of performance agreements, accountability, sound school management and the accruing benefits of quality teaching and proper use of time,” Motshekga said.