5 takeaways from Minister Motshekga's 2019 Basic Education Budget Vote Speech
"We are fully aware that basic education is an emotive issue... We are aware that there are numerous concerns in the sector. Most of these concerns are valid, but some are largely driven by negative sentiments from those who hold the entire public schooling system in utter contempt."
As leaders in the basic education sector, we understand the enormity of the task placed upon us. (Getty Images)
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On Wednesday, 17 July 2019, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga delivered the 2019 Basic Education Budget Vote Speech

Describing the South African education system as one that is "firmly on the rise," the Minister highlighted past achievements, future developments, hurdles, and more. 


Also see: Everything President Ramaphosa promised our children in his #SONA2019 speech

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Here are five key points we noted: 

Drastically improving literacy and numeracy skills is the Departments No.1 priority 

Improving the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, especially “Reading with meaning” ... should be underpinned by a Reading Revolution. 
As the DBE, we are implementing the Primary School Reading Improvement Programme (PSRIP), through which, a range of support interventions are brought together to improve the quality of teaching of Home Language literacy as well as English as a First Additional Language.
This programme will have a measurable impact on reading outcomes through the DBE Early Grade Reading Study.
We are collaborating with the NECT, in entrenching the Read to Lead Campaign with the National Reading Coalition, which we launched on 15 February 2019.  We are also supplementing the technical work we are doing to support and improve instructions and learning through curriculum materials, instruction, and assessment. 
We will distribute materials for language and numeracy in the Foundation Phase on paper, and ICT devices to strengthen institutional practice.
A lot of work will also be done to support the teaching and learning of mathematics in the early grades.  Last year, we launched a new framework for teaching mathematics with understanding, which will help teachers to better implement the curriculum. 
We are currently piloting the implementation of this framework and will be expanding this support throughout the system.

"21st century skills" have been added to the 2020 school curriculum to address the needs of "a changing world" 

Research conducted by the University of Oxford, revealed that 45% of the current jobs, will disappear within the next 10 to 20 years; with many jobs becoming completely automated.  UNESCO estimates are higher – that 65% of the current jobs will not exist in 15 to 20 years. 

Therefore, the need for the Basic Education Sector to refocus the curriculum towards a competence-based approach, integrating the 21st century skills and competencies across the subjects; and the introduction of new subjects and programmes that are responsive to the demands of the changing world, is inescapable.

Workbooks and textbooks are digitised for easy access.  We have digitised approximately 90% of textbooks for high enrolment subjects – such as Mathematics, Physical Science, and Accounting; as well as 100% of workbooks and Graded Readers.  We have developed the Grade R-3 Coding and Robotics curriculum; and the design of the Grade 4-9 curriculum is at an advanced stage.  We will be piloting this curriculum from January 2020 in Grade R-3 and Grade 7.

A multi-billion-rand budget broken down per province 

The overall 2019/20 budget allocation for the nine provincial education departments is R256.7 billion, an increase of 6.9% from the 2018/19 overall adjusted allocation.  
The provincial allocations are as follows –
  • Eastern Cape Department of Education is allocated R36.3 billion, an increase of 4.1% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • Free State Department of Education is allocated R14.7 billion, an increase of 8.1% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • Gauteng Department of Education is allocated R49.8 billion, an increase of 9% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is allocated R54.02 billion, an increase of 6% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • Limpopo Department of Education is allocated R32.3 billion, an increase of 4.7% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • Mpumalanga Department of Education is allocated R21.9 billion, an increase of 3.7% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • Northern Cape Department of Education is allocated R6.9 billion, an increase of 7.3% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation;
  • North West Department of Education is allocated R17.1 billion, an increase of 5.2% of the 2018/19 adjusted allocation; and
  • Western Cape Department of Education is allocated R23.7 billion, an increase of 6.9% from the 2018/19 adjusted allocation.

The DBE's position on infrastructure 

The provision and maintenance of infrastructure remains one of our key priorities as a sector.

To improve the delivery of infrastructure, we will be revisiting the delivery model for school infrastructure projects, to save on the cost of providing education infrastructure, and to improve contract management processes with our implementing agents and service providers. 

We will also be researching alternative funding modalities for the provision of school infrastructure, and to ramp up our maintenance programme.

We will also revamp the National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS), with the cooperation of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); review the design of schools built – designs must be appropriate for teaching and learning; and be appropriate for the provision of digital infrastructure.

State of education "on the rise"

We are the only country on the African Continent to participate in the latest round of TALIS [The Teaching and Learning International Survey].
We wish to stress that our participation in continental and international studies and surveys, is not just an irrational attachment to peer review mechanisms, or perhaps to massage the egos of the current Mandarins. 
In fact, it forms part of our Government’s policy injunction through the NDP, which states that “the performance of South African learners in international standardised tests, should be comparable to the performance of learners from countries at a similar level of development and with similar levels of access” to ours.
It cannot be coincidental that all continental and international standardised assessment tests, namely the Fourth Southern and East African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SEACMEQ IV), the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2015), and the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2016), are unanimous in reporting that the South African basic education system as firmly on the rise.  What is significant in the observation is that the largest gains were evident within the historically disadvantaged sections of the schooling system, namely quintiles 1-3 schools.
Even TALIS 2018 confirms our system as on the upward trajectory.

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