Today, the Portfolio Committee, comprised of MPs from the National Assembly as well as MPLs from the Provincial Legislature, met at DD Mabuza Secondary School in Ehlanzeni District, Nkomazi Local Municipality, for an interaction with the MEC for Education, Mr Bonakele Majuba, the Head: Education, Mrs Lucy Moyane and members of senior management on the state of schooling in the Province.
In his remarks, MEC Majuba said :
“Chairperson, I take this opportunity to welcome you to our shores and appreciate that you honoured us with your presence.
We are truly grateful for the opportunity granted to us to share with your the efforts that are being made by the Department to deliver quality education in the place of the rising sun.
We are meeting at a time when preparations are at an advanced stage for the commencement of teaching and learning for the 2023 school year.
These preparations start with the admission of learners, a process that schools are to finalize at the end of this month.
This is followed by the procurements and deliveries of Learning and Teaching Support Material and other requisite resources.
These efforts run parallel with our quest to intensify what we regard as the “last push” to enable our learners to be fully prepared for the final examination.
To this end, the Province has made an analysis of the performance of learners in the recent Half Yearly Examination and will use this information as we prepare for the Spring Classes that are scheduled to take place next month.
So far, I can confirm that there is relative stability to enable teaching and learning to prosper within the Province.
Stakeholders are on board, and they rally side by side with the Department to ensure smooth and efficient education delivery in the Province.
We attribute the performance of the Province in the 2021 learner performance results to this support. Our view is that the results would have worsened in quality and quantity in the absence of support from the education stakeholders.
We are making all endeavours to improve the delivery of education and to ensure that our learners are able to compete with their counterparts in other parts of the world.
The Department has launched UbuhleBuzile e-Learning Programme, which is currently implemented for Grade 12 learners in Quintiles 1 to 3 schools.
Learners and teachers from these schools were provided with tablets and laptops with the requisite education supplementary resources, textbooks, study guides and previous question papers.
It is a programme that will be intensified going forward and we are grateful for how it is unfolding.
Like any initiative at a commencement stage, it is bound to have teething challenges3. However, the Department will do everything possible in its power to ensure that the programme succeeds in the best interest of our learners.
The Department is further expanding its footprint to emerging technologies, including the internet of things, coding, robotics and artificial intelligence.
We are encouraged by the participation of learners in the technical streams following the transformation of some ordinary secondary schools into technical high schools.
In fact, the Department is working toward ensuring that there is at least one technical high school in each of the 71 circuits in the Province.
So far, there are 42 technical high schools within the Province; next year, we plan to increase them to 52. The Department is working with Private Sector companies to achieve this.
The collaboration with the Private Sector helps us to address challenges such as the lack of infrastructure and boost interest as we grapple with training more teachers within these new fields of study.
To sustain this, we require our schools to be safe and to ensure that school resources are used for the intended purpose.
The safety of schools, teachers and learners is something that gives us sleepless nights. It is exacerbated by incidents which occur in our communities but find their ugly ways in schools.
These bad things include gangsterism, trafficking and abuse of illicit substances, carrying of dangerous weapons and so on.
Vandalism of school property, break-ins and other forms of crimes is a serious challenge and seems to be on the rise.
The Department launched a programme to mobilize all stakeholders and communities to protect schools. It is called the Rhandza Xikolo Xa Wena Campaign, loosely translated it means “Love Your School Campaign”.
Through this programme, communities were mobilized to clean their schools and instil a sense of ownership of schools.
We were truly encouraged by the positive reception and response to this campaign by the provincial school community.
Next month, the Department will host the inaugural cleanest school award as a cardinal pillar of the Rhandza Xikolo Xawena Campaign.
The Department will continue to work with its stakeholders to find innovative means to protect schools.
Chairperson, The Department’s integration of the Early Childhood Development unfolded in keeping with the proclamation of the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.
Notwithstanding some challenges here and there, overall, the process went on very well, and we continue to thank our sister Department of Social Development for their corporation and guidance in that regard.
Some of these challenges relate to issues of registration, compliance by ECD centres, inadequate capacity, lack of support and shortage of human resources to support the centres.
This led to delays in effecting due payments to the centres. However, I am encouraged by the progress made in that aspect to date.
We are optimistic that by working side by side with the centre managers and the labour unions, we will be in a position to strengthen the delivery of ECD programmes within the Province.
In addition, the Department is making strides in the implementation of Inclusive Education.
Vacant posts for Educational Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech Therapists were advertised, and due processes are unfolding to ensure that appointments are made by the end of October 2022.
The Department is offering the first South African Sign Language Class of Grade12 learners at Bukhosibetfu Full Service School this year.
The Department is accelerating efforts to build a school for the deaf and blind at Emalahleni Local Municipality.
Chairperson, there are 924,015 learners that are beneficiaries of the National School Nutrition Programme in the Province.
The challenge in this regard is that the enrollments of learners have increased where else the MTEF Budget is fixed.
To this end, the supply of food becomes limited in some areas. This is something we are looking at.
Chairperson, The Department has since 2013 prioritized the provisioning of proper and adequate sanitation infrastructure for schools within the Province.
In this regard, we can safely state that almost all schools within the Province have some form of sanitation facility (VIP, Enviro Loo, Waterborne), water supply and electrical connection.
The Department has made serious inroads in the eradication of plain pit toilets in schools. There are 63 schools that are remaining and still to be attended on this matter.
The backlog of school infrastructure remains huge, which puts the Department behind in meeting its school infrastructure targets.
This was exacerbated by unforeseen circumstances and unplanned disasters like storm damage.
Other competing priorities such as unsafe structures, overcrowding and demand for new schools remain our preoccupation.
Every effort is made by the Department to ensure support to learners who are supposed to walk more than five kilometres to attend a nearby school.
Currently, there are 88,113 learners that are being offered scholar transport on 715 routes. This is done in collaboration with the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport.
The Department has established boarding schools to cater for vulnerable learners who were in small and unviable schools. This is an effort to make sure that they don’t drop out of school and are well supported.
With all these endeavours, the Chairperson of the Mpumalanga Department of Education intends to improve the delivery of education in the Province.
Our desire, like all responsible parents, is that the Class of 2022 may attain a 100% pass rate. However, if that does not happen, we may be comforted with obtaining an 83% pass rate.
Once more, welcome to the place of the rising sun.
We are open to your insight and we are certain that your visit and interaction will only help us to grow from strength to strength.