Deputy Chairperson, Chairperson of the NCOP, hon Minister of Basic Education and hon Minister of Higher Education and Training, the MEC for the Western Cape and distinguished and eminent members of the NCOP, on Tuesday next week we will be celebrating the 16th anniversary of our freedom and democracy. It is important that we reflect on this event and on the long and arduous journey that we have travelled in relation to our achievements and in recognition of the challenges that we still face. I thought it would be appropriate for us to reflect on that event because we must, in assessing where we are and what our challenges continue to be, reflect also, honestly, frankly and candidly, on the wonderful achievements and enormous milestones that we have achieved as a constitutional democracy.
Our Constitution, which we also celebrate on 27 April, speaks about the founding and pre-eminent values of human dignity, equality and freedom. In that context we have to recognise that the issues of equality and equity are central to the transformation agenda of the ruling party as well as the nation and government.
Prior to 1994, less than 50% of the learners who were eligible to go to school were in our schools. Today, 16 years down the line, we can celebrate the fact that there is universal attendance in our primary schools. Between 1994 and 1996, R25 million was set aside for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. Today, more than R1,2 billion is being set aside for tertiary education. In 2002 we had 220 000 learners in early childhood development. Today we can celebrate the fact that more than 620 000 of our children are in early childhood development in our schools, our public institutions. I am not talking about community centres.
These are remarkable achievements and they come at an enormous cost. To be able to accommodate and house children in our schools would mean that we have to build additional classrooms in a particular way for a particular environment to be created for early childhood development. It would also mean that we need many more trained and skilled practitioners. It would mean that we have to disburse much more money to that end.
Therefore the challenge will continue to be that as we try and seek to achieve as quickly as possible in an accelerated way the development of our learners in schools so that they can achieve and acquire quality education, we would be mindful of the fact that it comes at a huge economic cost.
We celebrate our achievements and the fact that, in 1994, less than 9% of our schools had ICT capacity for learning and teaching while today we can say that almost 40% of our schools have the facility for teaching and more than two thirds of our schools have ICT for administration.
Yet not enough is being done. We would like to look from the perspective of education, and certainly in consultation with our MECs, including the MEC for the Western Cape, at the desperate measures that we have to take in our rural areas, particularly in areas such as KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State. It is where the issues of class and race still play themselves out. It is where the objective realities remind us constantly of the fact that when we look at the Western Cape or Gauteng, we should not forget the Eastern Cape and Limpopo. We should constantly be reminded of the desperate needs of our people who are poor and who certainly do not have the access to opportunity that those in our more urban settings and environments have.
That is the constant reminder. We can say that we can celebrate our achievements but we must constantly be reminded that more than 20% of our schools are located in the rural areas. What should we do differently and better in order to ensure that we succeed as a nation?
This brings to mind what the Minister and an hon member had said about the importance of workbooks being delivered to our schools. It means that every member in this particular House, all MECs for education, district officials, provincial officials as well as officials from the national department have a responsibility and accountability. While we develop, distribute and disseminate thousands upon thousands of learner-teacher resource materials, we must ensure that they reach their destination, are used in the classroom and that educators have the capacity to utilise the resource material in a way that is beneficial to the learners.
It means that it is a time for monitoring and evaluation. It means that this oversight, this accountability and this efficiency in service delivery, are critical and central to the task of this administration. Without this, we would not be able to celebrate greater victories and achievements.
Today, we can say that we have made some firm and radical changes with regard to where we want to be. Take the Grade R learners, for example. I have indicated that there are more than 620 000 in our schools. Today, we can celebrate the fact that each learner in a Grade R class has a learner resource kit in a language of his or her choice, delivered whether you are in Lusikisiki, Bushbuckridge or in Rankelenyane in the North West.
That is cause for celebration. This means, as we develop, conceptualise, design and distribute workbooks for Grade 1 to Grade 9 learners, we too have the responsibility to ensure that the remote area of Lusikisiki is not ignored. We must ensure that they are educated and have the required skills and that development in the far, remote and distant areas of the Eastern Cape takes place. We must ensure they are not marginalised and on the periphery in our task of transformation. That, indeed, is the central task.
I am sure the hon Minister of Higher Education and Training might ask whether it is a communist or a comrade who is speaking. In terms of what we do, we have to recognise that perhaps the greatest constraint or barrier to education is poverty in terms of access, sufficient resources and in terms of being able to go to school with a full stomach.
Therefore we must not take lightly the huge gains that we have made in terms of our nutrition programme. A significant part of this budget is allocated for this particular purpose and today we can say that more than 8 million learners are the beneficiaries of the nutrition scheme. It was principally allocated to quintile 1, 2 and 3 primary schools. It has now been extended to quintile 1 high schools and in the next two financial years will cover all quintile 1, 2 and 3 high schools.
That would mean that close to 10 million of our learners would be fed in schools. That means it would simply contribute to their physical and academic development within schools. To look at nutrition in isolation without looking at food security and making learners in communities aware about the importance of food security would be a lost opportunity.
We can today celebrate the fact that we have more than 6 000 food gardens in our schools. What an enormous number of food gardens and indeed they are not only located in the urban areas! They are principally in the areas of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West.
We can also celebrate the fact that we have been innovative in what we are doing. We have developed skills among urban and rural women to ensure that they are able to cook and prepare meals in a nutritious way. We have provided that opportunity for learners to augment meals, simply because they have looked at the possibilities of food gardens and food security. We have provided the opportunity for learners to develop the ability to be more entrepreneurial and thereby provide better opportunities for our learners.
In a rural area, the most pervasive presence of the government or the state is in a school, whether it is a school function, a sporting activity or a wedding. The school is central to the activities or the organisation of that particular community. Therefore we have no choice but to say that education must be the apex.
We, as hon members, also have a responsibility, as we go back to our constituencies and our communities, to do whatever is necessary to ensure that we promote awareness of the importance of education. We must play our role in society in providing support, particularly to those mothers and fathers who did not have the opportunity to receive a good education. We must ensure that we do not only look at the needs of our generation of learners, but look at how to empower those who have been deprived of that particular opportunity.
I do believe that we have something enormous to celebrate. In 50 days from tomorrow, we will celebrate the 2010 Fifa World Cup. We are certainly going to look at the legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup. We have these beautiful stadiums, whether in Limpopo, Johannesburg or Cape Town. What legacy did we leave? As an education department, we take pride in the fact that more than 120 000 boy and girl learners are participating in the mini World Cup. Almost 7 000 schools are participating in that. The reality of interschool and intraschool activity as an organised sporting activity for boys and girls is indeed significant.
As the department of education, we can take pride in the fact this is a phenomenal achievement in terms of bringing physical activity back to our schools. Physical activity is no longer something that has been excluded from the mainstream of our school activity but is part and parcel of it. To that extent, we would want our hon members and communities to support the initiatives of schools because there are many schools that are participating. The finals will take place very soon. More than 35 000 tickets will be provided to those learners to attend the World Cup.
There is another pillar to that, besides participation, which is the education pillar. Learners are encouraged to take part in art, drama and dance. It is quite phenomenal when one looks at the enormous possibilities that these events have opened. The Confederations Cup has illustrated quite clearly how, when given the opportunity, we are able to exhibit the best within our learners. I do believe that the legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, in terms of the direct activity and participation of our learners, will show that we are a winning nation and, as the Freedom Charter says, that the doors of learning and culture have been opened and that we will be able to unleash the potential of our youth.
I stand here, recognising the enormous challenges that we have, particularly in the rural areas. I also stand here affirming the wonderful gift that this democracy has brought to us. Our commitment to equality and equity means better access to better resources in schools, better infrastructure, better capacity of our governing bodies and better commitment to teaching. It also means that we have better tools to utilise, in terms of retaining the skills that we have in our rural areas, given the realities of interprovince and intraprovince migration.
This would mean that MECs for education should be mindful of the fact that legislation allows for rewards and incentives for teaching in rural areas and in scarce-skills areas. Career paths are a reality. You don't have to leave your school to earn what a circuit inspector earns. You could do so while being an educator. It also means, as the Minister of Basic Education has indicated consistently, that we cannot ignore the realities of the lack of transport in the rural areas. We cannot ignore the realities that, unless we provide adequate and decent housing for our educators in our rural areas, we will not attract those competent skills to those areas for the children there who so desperately require our support.
I want to thank the hon members of the Select Committee on Education for their support. It has been wonderful interacting with you. I want to thank the MECs for their combined and collaborative effort in ensuring that education is an Apex Priority in this administration and for ensuring that we are a winning nation. We can only do better from today onwards. Thank you. [Applause.]
UMntwana M M M ZULU: Phini likaSihlalo wakuLendlu, abahlonishwa oNgqongqoshe, umnakwethu uNzimande nodadewethu ophethe uMnyango Wezemfundo, sithi lokhu okuthiwa. (Translation of isiZulu paragraph follows.)
[Prince M M M ZULU: Deputy Chairperson of this House, hon Ministers, my brother Nzimande and our sister heading the Department of Basic Education, we say that the ...]
...quality of education is one of the cornerstones of nation-building.
Mphephethwa kanye nodadewethu yiMinyango ebalulekile kulesi sabelo-mali esiphikisana ngaso namhlanje, wenza ukuthi zonke izingane zaseNingizimu Afrika zithole ukufunda okuhle okusezingeni eliphezulu. Njengezwe laseNingizimu Afrika kuyofuneka ngokubambisana sisonke njengabazali sikwazi ukuthi sizimisele sivakashele izikole, sibheke ukuthi imisebenzi eziyinikwa esikoleni ukuze ziyenze emakhaya ziyenza kahle yini ukuze uMnyango Wezemfundo ukwazi ukusizana nathi njengabazali.
Kodwa ke Mphephethwa, ngijabulile uma uthinta amakhono, ngoba amakhono yiwona azoqeda ukungazi kithi. Ngoba, uma ngingakutshela ukuthi umuntu ophothule iziqu zebanga eliphakathi nendawo enyuvesi, kodwa akakwazanga ukuthi aphume ahambe ayozisebenza-ngoba ngeke abantu bonke basizwe uhulumeni. Ngemfundo uqobo kufuneka ngikwazi ukuthi ngizisungulele i-spaza oSuthu kwaNongoma ngidayisele abantu amawolintshi.
Bese kuthi mhlonishwa Ngqongqoshe okunye, ngeze sananaza njengeqembu ukukweseka ezinhlelweni zezabelo-mali zenu nobabili eMinyangweni yenu. Kunezinto okufanele sizibheke emanyuvesi ethu, lapho abafowethu abafika bezokwenza unyaka wokuqala bese bephuma ngoba izinkece zingekho. Nalabo abenza unyaka wesibili bangabe besakwazi ukuqeda ukwenza amakhono abo ngoba nakhu izinkece zingekho. Yizo zonke izinto okufanele zibhekwe mhlonishwa.
Bese mhlonishwa, kuphinde kubhekwe lokhu oke wakhuluma ngakho ukuthi laphaya emanyuvesi kufuneka kungene labo abanamaphuzu angamashumi amabili nesishiyagalombili. Siyazi ukuthi sifunda kanzima, njengoba ngiSosuthu nje, uma ngiya esikoleni eFalaza, ngiqala ngipheke bese ngiyadla ngaphambi kokuba ngize esikoleni, ngakho ke kulukhuni ukuthi ngifunde kakhulu izincwadi, ngoba nezinsiza phela azikho kahle emakhaya. Ngale kokunanaza, egameni leqembu ngiyaweseka amavoti esabelo-mali seMinyango yomibili ebalulekile kakhulu ezweni lakithi okungunombolo-14 no-16. Ngiyabonga. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Your department, Mphephethwa, together with that of our sister, are the important departments which we are debating in this Budget Vote today; they enable all the children of South Africa to get learning which is of a high standard. It will be required of us as a country to all co-operate as parents and to be prepared to visit the schools to check if the homework given to them is properly done so as to enable the department of Education to help us as parents.
But Mphephethwa, I was happy when you touched on the issue of skills, because skills will do away with our ignorance. A person who has completed a junior degree at university, but could not leave to be self-employed because not all people can be helped by the government, with education itself needs to be able to establish his or her own spaza shop at Usuthu in KwaNongoma and sell oranges to the people.
One more thing then, hon Ministers, is that we will not hesitate as a party to support both of you in respect of the programmes of the budget within the two departments. There are things that we must look at in our universities, where our brothers complete their first year then leave because there is no money. And those who are in their second year fail to complete their studies because there is no money. These are all the things that must be looked into, hon Minister.
Then again, Minister, we look at what you once talked about and that is that those with 28 points should be admitted to the universities. We know that as a black nation we learn under difficulty; if I attend school at Falaza, I first have to cook then eat before leaving for school, which makes it difficult for me to study hard, because even the resources are not enough in the rural areas. Without further ado, on behalf of the party, I support the Budget Votes 14 and 16 of the two important departments in our country. Thank you.]]