14 February 2013
The government is to establish a national task team to strengthen maths and science teaching in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said in his 2013 State of the Nation Address, adding that it was time for the country to take start taking teaching seriously.
Addressing Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, Zuma also announced that he would establish a Presidential Remuneration Commission to investigate the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service provided by the state to all its employees.
“I have directed that the first priority should be teachers,” Zuma said.
‘Elevating education to its rightful place’
“In elevating education to its rightful place, we want to see an improvement in the quality of learning and teaching and the management of schools. We want to see an improvement in attitudes, posture and outcomes.
“Working with educators, parents, the community and various stakeholders, we will be able to turn our schools into centres of excellence,” he said.
Noting that the country’s Grade 12 pass rate was now on an upward trend, Zuma said the Annual National Assessments (ANA) at schools hade become a powerful tool for assessing the health of the education system.
“We welcome the improvement each year in the ANA results, but more must be done to improve maths, science and technology.
“We urge the private sector to partner government through establishing, adopting or sponsoring maths and science academies or Saturday schools,” he added.
What ‘essential service’ means
The President said he wanted everyone in the country to realise that education was an essential service for the nation.
“By saying education is an essential service, we are not taking away the constitutional rights of teachers as workers, such as the right to strike.
“It means we want the education sector and society as a whole to take education more seriously than is happening currently.”
Zuma said that 98 new schools will have been built in South Africa between March 2012 and March 2013. More than 40 of these will have replaced “mud schools” in the Eastern Cape.
He added that construction of two new universities, one in the Northern Cape and one in Mpumalanga, was expected to commence in September.