The launch of the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme

By Angelina Matsie Motshekga

Angelina Matsie MotshekgaThank you very much for everything. Today it feels good to be a Minister of Basic Education. Nothing excites more than to see a dream come true. A decent place for learning is everything.
Since democracy one of the major achievements of our government and partners is the extent to which we have provided universal access to basic education ahead of the 2015 target of the Millennium Development Goals.
The challenge has been to keep pace in providing facilities to match our gains and curriculum innovation. We need increased investment in school infrastructure to promote the right to education and to improve quality of learning and outcomes.
Historically, school infrastructure and basic services have been among the most visible indicators of unequal distribution of education resources. This is known to impact negatively on teaching and learning.
Conversely, a colourful environment improves learners’ attitudes and behaviour, attention span, learner and educator mood and feelings about school. It helps reduce absenteeism.
Government alone cannot address the legacy and infrastructure backlogs we’ve inherited. It is against this backdrop that we seek collaborations and partnerships such as the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme (BNSDP).
I’m therefore grateful our MEC, Ntate Makgoe, embraced the opportunity for school improvement presented by Kagiso Trust.
We’re impressed with the performance of schools in the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme.
These schools have shown improvement against provincial and national averages and against their own performance history.
MEC Makgoe will agree with me that Kagiso Trust has developed an exciting and certainly innovative schools improvement programme that supports and helps schools in addressing obstacles to increased performance.
A striking feature of the Programme is the rewards system it uses to incentivise consistently well-performing schools.
We add among its strengths its reliance on building functional and accountable relationships among stakeholders. This I believe assists in turning participating schools into high performing centres of excellence.
It is for these reasons that I feel honoured to be a part of the launch of the infrastructure chapter of this relationship, which will involve nine high schools and one primary school, to reward them for meeting the BNSDP benchmark, by achieving passes between 80% and 100%.
We’re talking of infrastructure to the value of over R13 million, covering science labs, computer centres, libraries and a mathematics laboratory for the primary school.
We say ‘Thank you’ to Kagiso Trust for the splendid job they’ve done for school children, especially in rural communities.
Investing in education is not only the right thing to do. It is a business and economic imperative.
It is precisely for this reason that as a nation we’ve made education a top priority and have treated it as such, as an essential service.
What we want to see is everyone realising equally that education is an essential service that we must all defend.
The essence of collaboration and partnership was best explained by Nevhutalu here and Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairman of the Shanduka Foundation. They said:
“The state of education affects everyone because it is so closely linked to South Africa’s growth and development. Every citizen therefore has a direct interest in seeing the quality and accessibility of education improved” (Sunday Times 17/3/2013).
I believe in the context of unemployment coupled with a skills shortfall, reducing poverty depends largely on giving South Africans a better educational start in life.
We therefore commit as government to continue improving accountability among all participants in the education system so that your investment does not fall on barren ground.
This entails creating a climate for quality teaching and learning ensuring that learners and teachers are in class, on time, learning and teaching, every school day. Quality teachers are certainly at the centre of any well-performing system.
Before I close, I must say ‘Well done!’ to all excelling schools.
I thank their teachers, learners and school principals in particular for turning around and sustaining performance as required by the BNSDP programme.
It shouldn’t be just for the BNSDP incentive, tempting as it is, that schools strive for excellence. It is a national imperative on which depends the future of the children.
Lessons you’ve developed will indeed benefit other schools in the province and country as long as we share good practices as I’ve agreed with the MEC and other education MECs.
Sustain the good work. All must play their part for even better results. Parents must come to the party. They must check school work, assist with homework, interface with schools, attend school meetings and take part in activities of SGBs.
I’m happy we have among us traditional leaders and leaders of faith-based communities. Their work in education we acknowledge, and we ask cordially for more.
Communities too have a serious role to play. So do trade unions and non-profit organisations. These are your schools. Take ownership. Defend them from vandals.
Last but not least, let me use this opportunity to congratulate winners of the Sport Tournament and Schools Beautification Competition.
To all learners, good luck in the exams. Make us proud. Those in matric, organise finances for further study and importantly, ensure you’ve applied for admission. Don’t wait for last minute.
I look forward to continued partnership with the Trust.
Once more, thank you all for the impressive work you’ve done!

Angelina Matsie Motshekga is Minister of Basic Education speaking at the launch of the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme initiated by Kagiso Trust and Free State Department of Education at Thalabodiba S. School in the Free State on Thursday 22 August 2013.

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