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Access to Education in South Africa has improved – Nzimande

Access to education has improved over the past 17 years, Higher Education minister Blade Nzimande said recently in parliament.

“Approximately 96 percent of children now gain access to school in South Africa,” Nzimande said during debate in the National Assembly on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address.

Nzimande said that in 2009 the gross enrolment ratio for Grades 1 to 12 stood at 92 percent. In higher education the total enrolments was nearing 90,000, which means the throughput rate has been improving, although it still has a long way to go.

The biggest challenge identified by the Department of Basic Education [DBE] according to Nzimande is the improvement of the quality of education, while nearly all of the Department of Basic Education’s current interventions are aimed at achieving this.

Dr Nzimande cited the improvement of learning outcomes in Maths, Science and Literacy as the biggest priority of the department, which is in line with Zuma’s directive on the three Ts –teachers, text and time.

The “improved” 2010 matric results proved that the schooling system was on a much better footing, he said.

Minister Nzimande then focussed on Higher Education and said the Department of Higher Education and Training had made “significant strides” in the past year in the field of higher education and training to tackle the challenge of creating a post school system that was responsive to the needs of youths and adults.

The adoption of the National Skills Development Strategy had been the anchor of government’s intervention on the skills development front, according to him.

Nzimande emphasized that South African universities needed to be nurtured, and must continue to provide high quality teaching, research, innovation and community service activities and to progressively improve their capacities.

“But”, Nzimande said, “we are working to ensure that these universities become more accessible and place student interests at the centre of their activities.”

Assistance would be given to institutions that need special attention, like those in rural areas, to help them build capacity to provide quality education. Task teams are also working hard to prepare for the establishment of universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

To read the original Sapa article on NewsTime Click Here!

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Fixing South African schools a 30 year task

Graeme Bloch, an education specialist at the Development Bank of Southern Africa recently wrote an article in the newspaper, Pretoria News about the dire straight South African schools are in. According to him a  toxic mix of problems keeps South Africa’s schools and educational institutions in a state of disaster, neither able to meet the skills needed in a growing economy nor able to provide jobs opportunities to youths.

In the article he highlights failures in the SA education system and discusses many of the problems South African schools face.

According to the Bloch fixing education will be a 30-year task, which must start now, with urgency.
Everyone should be on board, unified around a vision for a learning nation.  Priorities should be identified, phases for restoration should be stipulated, and a starting point chosen.  The debate around this should not be once-off, but a process.

Bloch further highlights some elements that could help focus such a restoration plan.

– “Teachers. How do we motivate the teachers? With training and clear texts, quality can rise. Through a mixture of encouragement and support – where necessary ‘gently’ holding recalcitrants’ feet to the fire, teachers will be central to the national endeavour. The best of our generations should aspire to teach”.

– “Departments must do their part, especially at provincial level. Fill vacant and ‘acting’ posts, manage properly, deliver on time and at the right place. The focus should be on management and follow through, responsibility and accountability”.

– “Society can rally around to ensure government structures fulfill their tasks”.

– “Corporate social investment spending is increasingly focused in clusters of schools over a consistent and long period across a range of programmes of support”.

– “Many graduates can organise to plough back into schools and help in a systematic way”.

– “Community programmes such as Proudly Manenberg, Tikkun, or efforts like those by the parents of Piet N Aphane High pupils in rural Limpopo, show that schools can be improved at grassroots level”.

– “A huge change in our mindset, accompanied by a massive effort, is needed to improve the quality of education, especially in the poorer schools where the majority of the disadvantaged are”.

To read the Pretoria News Article Click Here!