Hon Chairperson, hon Minister Nzimande and Deputy Minister Surty, hon members, guests from provinces, MECs present, my colleague from the Western Cape - I'm not sure if you understood that we had to pray when we were standing - ladies and gentlemen and senior officials from the department, as Basic Education we really pride ourselves on the fact that huge strides have been made in education since the establishment of our new democracy in respect of ensuring access to education for the majority of our children.
Given what we have achieved, we are nevertheless determined to address those challenges that continue to detract from how far we have come. We are now focusing on ensuring the delivery of quality learning and teaching in all our schools in order to make sure that South Africa's learning outcomes will improve. In order to do this, we must all work together as a nation and all take responsibility to ensure that we achieve our goals.
Education is indeed a societal issue. Each one of us, as members of this House, national and provincial officials, principals, teachers, parents, learners and members of the community, must make quality education a priority. We need to turn the system around with bold targets and initiatives that are carefully crafted and executed and pay due attention to the already fragile nature of the system and people who work in it.
The outcomes approach adopted by this government seeks to improve service delivery by ensuring that the work of government is measured according to outcomes. These performance outcomes are politically determined positions of government to achieve greater and more focused development. The outcomes approach enables us to set measurable targets and deliverables, against which we and all South Africans can monitor our progress in addressing the challenges that remain in education. Government has made education a priority, and so should we.
Our targets are ambitious and will require a lot from us. Both budgets and priorities are informed by the ruling party's ten-point plan and election manifesto commitments. And we will be working closely with the provinces to ensure that there is alignment between strategy and structure. The provinces play a vital role in the delivery of quality education. While the national department is responsible for policy and monitoring the system, the provinces have a very important role in the implementation thereof.
I have spoken before of the legislative mandate of the Department of Basic Education that sets out the key responsibilities of the department to develop and maintain national policies for the basic education sector. It is the responsibility of the national department to work closely with provinces in order to ensure that provincial budgets and strategies support national policies.
As regards the allocations for the 2010-11 financial year, I am pleased to announce that we have received an increase of R2,23 billion, which takes us to R6,166 billion allocated to Basic Education. From 2009-10, with the increased budgets, we will be able to implement school feeding in quintile 2 secondary schools. From these allocations we will be able to provide workbooks worth R750 million, reaching R1 billion in 2012-13. This year we were also allocated an amount of R11,031 million to establish the National Education and Evaluation Unit. Funza Lushaka bursaries were given an additional amount to reach R422 million, and then R471 million in 2012-13. We have also received an increment from R5 million to R80 million to recapitalise our technical schools. Finally, money for Kha Ri Gude, our literacy programme, has increased from R468 million to R520 million.
Our targets are specifically focused on improved learner achievement. By setting these targets, we are committing all levels of the education sector to deliver on them. This requires our national and provincial departments to plan around these identified targets, to which we will all be held accountable. The clear targets that we have established must be achieved by 2014 and they are as follows: The number of Grade 12 learners who pass the national examinations and qualify to enter a Bachelor's programme at a university will increase from 105 000 to 175 000. The number of Grade 12 learners who pass mathematics and physical science will be 225 000 and 165 000 respectively. We are also looking at increasing the outcomes in our foundation, intermediate and senior phases, with an increased performance in literacy from 27% to 60% by 2014; and increased numeracy from 38% to 60% by 2014. We have also established the following priorities in order to meet our targets: By 2014, there will be universal access to Grade R for all age- appropriate children. Adequate learning and teaching materials will be developed and distributed, particularly to those schools we have identified as underperforming institutions. Standardised national assessments of the quality of learning will take place in Grades 3, 6 and 9 on an annual basis. I did say the last time that we already had assessment tests taken in literacy and numeracy at exit points, which is at the end of your foundation, intermediate and senior phases, so that children don't get tested only when they reach Grade 12.
I also announced the development of a national Basic Education action plan. This long-term plan for the basic education sector will be known as Schooling 2025. The Department of Basic Education's action plan will allow us to monitor progress against a set of measurable indicators covering all aspects of basic education, including, among others, enrolment and retention of learners, statistics on teachers, infrastructure, school funding, learner and teacher wellbeing, school safety, mass literacy and educational quality.
This Basic Education action plan will co-ordinate and guide all interventions in the basic education system in order to turn the system around. The plan will establish key outcomes and performance deliverables for the entire education system, including the national and provincial departments. It will commit provinces and provincial education departments to clear, agreed-upon outcomes and ensure that all in the system are accountable for attaining these outcomes. I shall very shortly make this plan available for public comment.
Regarding the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit, Needu, in the National Education Policy Act of 1996, section 8(1) compels the Minister and the National Department of Basic Education to monitor and report on the implementation of education policies as well as the progress of the system. The additional funding that we have been given will help us to strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of our whole education system.
We have investigated the mandate, scope, name, location and modus operandi of the proposed structure of Needu and, on this basis, we have commenced with its establishment. In this regard, I will shortly announce the outcome of our recruitment process for the staff who will head and direct its work. Needu will be a professional facility dedicated to the purposes of monitoring, evaluation and support. I would like to emphasise that all issues and concerns regarding the inspectorate will be accommodated under this unit. It will be a unit that will evaluate school quality and present regular reports to the nation on such quality. Its role will be to assess and develop strategies for improving the quality of educational outcomes and supporting schools to achieve this. It will monitor and evaluate performance across the entire system, including the national department, provinces and districts.
Because we have become solutions-orientated, it is the responsibility of the Minister of Basic Education, in terms of the National Education Policy Act, to monitor and evaluate the performance of provinces, districts and schools. To this end, my department will shortly establish a delivery support unit to be known as the implementation unit. This unit will be staffed by multiskilled, highly effective individuals who will be deployed at short notice to find solutions to any obstacles that arise in schools, districts and, indeed, in provinces. This unit's primary role will be to fast-track delivery and to ensure that every school is able to function optimally.
Credible and up-to-date information on how our learners perform is valuable for a number of reasons: First, it helps identify systemic weaknesses that might impact on the quality of learning and teaching in our schools; second, it enables the tracking of progress towards the measurable learning outcomes and targets that we have set for ourselves; and third, it holds the system accountable to the citizens of South Africa.
As mentioned earlier, we have been given R10 million, which is available for this year, and it will increase to R18 million over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, MTEF, period. We have decided that performance at Grades 3, 6 and 9 will be improved from the current average attainment level. Approximately 3 million of the learner population in basic education are in these grades. The external assessments will focus on the critical foundational skills of literacy and numeracy.
I'm intimidated by your words, Chairperson, so let me jump to further sections, otherwise I might not finish my speech.
From 2010, the results of these assessments will be reported to parents. They will not only be informed of the school's literacy and numeracy scores, but also provincial and national scores. We are committed to not making a hype of Grade 12, but we do believe that schools, communities and parents need to know the performance of all schools at all levels and how their children compare to children in other areas.
Regarding the improvement of the curriculum, during the last meeting I attended here we did report on the recommendations that we had received on the curriculum review and assessment. We have acted on the main recommendations of the report prepared by the ministerial committee established in 2009, which was tasked with reviewing the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement.
Curriculum reform is not something that anyone in the system takes lightly. At the same time we need to quickly and efficiently iron out the difficulties that exist. We need to work differently and we need to work steadfastly, but with speed. For this reason I have made and will continue to make changes on an ongoing basis where they can be made with minimal disruption in order to create relief and improve the system. We are not considering changing everything for change's sake. What works will stay and perhaps be improved on, but what does not work will be changed immediately. Indeed, the longer-term change to the curriculum requires coherent action and it needs to be done properly. All stakeholders will be kept properly informed at all times.
To provide short-term relief, we have reduced the number of projects for learners and done away with the need for portfolio files of learner assessments and common tasks of assessment for Grade 9 learners. I have established three committees to enable the smooth implementation of the curriculum. They are being led by three able people who have the experience and qualifications to do so. The first committee's task is to provide clear guidelines of what teachers ought to teach on a grade-by-grade and subject- by-subject basis. The timeframe for this committee has been extended from one year to two, different from what the review committee recommended to us. Its work is supported by two other committees, one to plan for the implementation of the recommendations of reducing learning areas in the intermediate phase from eight to six. We have taken the decision that we will indeed reduce the number of learning areas. When children leave the foundation phase and go to the intermediate phase, they won't do eight subjects anymore, but only six.
The curriculum challenge is a comprehensive one. It requires ongoing research and development. For this reason, we will continue to build capacity for curriculum research and review within the national department to ensure that we strengthen the implementation of the curriculum. We must remember that what happens in classrooms defines the existence of the education sector.
I have reported that we have allocated R750 million to help us allocate books that will assist us in meeting our challenges in providing support on the curriculum. We are also distributing lesson plans in literacy and numeracy for Grades 1 to 6. If this intervention is to achieve its objectives of supporting teaching and learning in schools, it is important that our support materials reach schools on time.
Regarding the human resource and development aspect, we acknowledge that our teachers and principals are key to a quality education system. We recognise that there is a need for coherence and synergy across the system. We recognise that there are many role-players who have a stake in the development of teachers and school leaders - not least of all the educators themselves have a key role to play in their own development.
To address the supply-side challenges, the Department of Basic Education will, through the development of human resource management information systems, provide provinces with credible data on the supply, demand and utilisation of educators in the system to inform planning. We need to ensure that they are properly distributed across the system and that we have the right teachers, with the right qualifications and skills, in the right schools, at the right time.
This year we shall also introduce a new distribution model of posts for schools. We will use this pro-poor model as a planning tool to determine actual utilisation and future demand for teachers with regard to subjects or phases. This model will be adjusted to address changes in the curriculum.
A key deliverable in this sector for 2010 will be the action plans emanating from the multistakeholder workshop that was held in Johannesburg in 2009. We are completing all the details and will soon implement the recommendations that came from the stakeholders after consulting with colleagues.
Regarding school governance, much evidence suggests that proper learning requires functional schools, or schools that provide an enabling environment for teachers. Even the best teachers will find it difficult to do a good job if the school does not have a timetable, colleagues arrive late and there are no regular meetings with parents. At the heart of a functional school lies a good principal. For the period 2010-11 to 2014-15, we are targeting at least 8 000 principals and deputy principals to complete the training that we will provide for them. In addition, all school leaders from underperforming secondary schools and their feeder primary schools will complete a special programme. We also acknowledge the importance of districts in supporting our schools in monitoring and helping us with the monitoring.
Regarding infrastructure, we will continue our efforts in tackling our immense infrastructural challenges. The backlog is currently estimated at R140 billion. In 2000-01 provincial education departments spent R553 million. Currently the budget for infrastructure is at R5,5 billion - so it doesn't even match the backlog that we have. As a result, we have agreed with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA, and the Treasury that we have to use a different model to begin addressing our infrastructure backlog. Again, we are consulting with our provinces to make sure that when we do implement the programme it will have the full support of our provinces.
At the same time, while we are focusing on improving infrastructure, I would like to call on all our communities, and in particular parents and learners, to commit themselves to safeguarding school infrastructure and school property. I am disturbed by reports that existing school classrooms are wantonly burnt down or school property such as computers are removed - as we heard recently, in the Western Cape there were learners who burnt down their own school. We find this highly unacceptable and as communities we need to raise our voices against such practices. There are far more responsible and effective ways of raising issues around education without destroying property or disrupting schooling.
We will never eradicate backlogs or ensure that all schools have adequate facilities if schools continue to be targeted by the criminal actions of community members. Schools, like churches and libraries, should be treated as sacrosanct. It is necessary for our learners and their parents to take responsibility for their education and to ensure that government's expenditure is not in vain.
In conclusion, we have an enormous responsibility to ensure that our funds are well spent on the purposes for which they are intended and that we see results. Our democratic mandate is to deliver on the right to education, and this means the right to be literate and numerate when leaving school. We are fully focused on delivering on this mandate.
Let me end by thanking all the members of the executive council - I see some colleagues from the Western Cape here, but I can't see any members from other provinces - who are responsible for education in their provinces and who have assisted and continue to assist us in defining the agenda. I would like to thank my colleague, Deputy Minister Surty, for his strong and capable support at all times. My thanks go also to the acting director- general, Mr Bobby Soobrayan, the provincial heads of departments, as well as chairpersons of provinces who are here and the members of the National Council of Provinces.
I am proud that I stopped myself before my time ran out. Thank you. [Laughter.] [Applause.]