Improve the quality of basic education and create a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path

Plans for 2014/15

We will continue to invest in education and skills development as that is the key to economic growth and development, President Jacob Zuma said in his State of the Nation Address of June 2014. We need engineers, electricians, plumbers, doctors, teachers and many other professionals to build our country’s economy.

Education remains an apex priority for government. Government will:

  • continue to promote universal access to education by ensuring that all children between ages 7 and 15 are in school.
  • increase the number of Grade 12 learners who can gain entrance to university, moving from 172 000 in 2013 to 250 000 in 2019.
  • continue to eradicate mud schools and other inappropriate structures, building on 2014 where we opened at least one school a week in the Eastern Cape.

The number of young people in universities and colleges has increased over the years.  Contractors will move on site in September to build new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga. By January next year, the first intake of medical students will be enrolled at the new medical university in Limpopo.

In addition, 12 training and vocational education colleges will be built to expand the technical skills mix in the country.

Update on progress and achievements for 2012/13

Early childhood development

In 2012, the National Curriculum Framework for children from birth to four years of age, as well as Guidelines for Developing Learning Programmes, was finalised.

There are now 19 261 registered early childhood development (ECD) centres with just under 845 000 children receiving ECD and partial care services.

A total of 767 865 learners were enrolled in Grade R and 900 000 Grade R workbooks were provided by the Department of Basic Education.

Adult literacy

The Kha Ri Gude Mass Literacy campaign for adults reached 2 243 766 adults between 2008 and 2011, with 665 246 adults in classes in 2012.

SchoolsLearners in class

Despite some challenges in 2012, there were many highlights:

  • Over 11 million learners and 24 000 schools benefitted from workbooks and textbooks provided at the beginning of the 2012 academic year. The Department of Basic Education has been monitoring the delivery of educational material to schools since September 2012 to ensure a smoother 2013 school year.
  • The Integrated School Health Programme made comprehensive in-school health services available to 290 602 learners by September 2012, exceeding its target of 250 000 learners for the year.

Since 2009 over seven (7) million learners wrote the Annual National Assessments. More than150 million workbooks were developed and distributed to over the past three years to Grade R – 9 learners. The National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) andthe Planning, Delivery and Oversight Unit (PDOU) were established in the Department of Basic Education to identify areas of weaknesses. The South African Sign Language Curriculum were developed to bring about clarity and inclusivity.

The national pass rate for the matric class of 2013 was 78,2%. This is an increase of 4.3 percentage points on the 2012 results (73.9%). This is also an increase of 17.6 percentage points since 2009 (60.6%). In 1995, when this cohort entered Grade 1, the national pass percentage was 53.4% and 19 years later, the national pass percentage is 78.2% In 2009 it was 60.6%, in 2010 it was 67.8%, in 2011 it was 70.2% and in 2012 it was 73.9%.

Source: Minister Angie Motshekga: Announcement of 2013 National Senior Certificate examinations results, 7 January 3014

Further education and training (FET)

Funding support through bursaries received a boost in 2012:

  • R200 million was provided to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme for loans to students who have completed their studies, but have not received their certificates or graduated owing to outstanding debt.
  • A further R50 million was provided for postgraduate students who required financial assistance to complete their honours, masters and doctoral degrees.
  • Bursaries to students increased from R100 million in 2007 to R1,7 billion in 2012.

More qualified teachers

In 2011, 10 370 newly qualified teachers graduated from public universities. This represents an increase of 74,5% since 2008. By 2014, over 14 000 new teachers are expected to be trained and qualified.

Source: Government's year of delivery 2012/2013 [PDF]

No more mud schools

In October 2012, new schools were opened at villages at Libode New schooland Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. These schools were the first of 49 mud schools identified for replacement in 2012 under the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (Asidi).

The success story of ASIDI goes far deeper than that of bricks, metal and cement. It tells of a human story of perseverance and triumph. Asidi is the first programme of its kind to bring together government and private financial institutions in a deal that aims to get rid of all mud schools and inappropriate structures by 2015. With a budget of more than R8,2 billion over the next three years, the programme will replace 496 mud schools, provide water and sanitation to 1 257 schools, and electricity to 878 schools. The success story of ASIDI goes far deeper than that of bricks, metal and cement. It tells of a human story of perseverance and triumph.

Up to mid-November 2013 ASIDI has handed over more than 40 schools to communities in the Eastern Cape. In excess of 6 957 jobs have been created in the building process with expenditure of R1,28 billion to date.

Government on the opening of new schools

Early Childhood Development (ECD)

There are about seven million children in South Africa aged six and younger. Of these, some 3,8 million children (55%) live in circumstances of poverty. However, there has been considerable progress since 1994. The number of ECD centres registered with the national Department of Social Development has increased to 19 500.

There are currently about 836 000 children in registered ECD centres, of which 488 000 (58%) receive the ECD subsidy. Many more children are in unregistered ECD centres. The number of children in Grade R has trebled since 2001 and the quality of Grade R services has improved.

School nutrition programme

Providing quality meals to over nine million learners in over 21 000 schools every school day is a massive undertaking. This is up from four million in 2004. School feeding promotes access, attendance and participation in education for learners from the poorest communities.

The programme has been extended to learners in secondary schools whereas at its inception, it was only in primary schools. All learners in beneficiary schools are provided meals.

The quality of meals has improved. School meals are cooked and consist of a protein, starch and fresh fruit and/or vegetable. Pilchards, a good source of Omega 3 and 6 which improves cognitive ability, are served once a week.

The budget of the programme has increased from R832 million in 2004 to over R5 billion in 2013. Through engaging volunteers to cook and serve the meals, the programme now provides over 54 000 people with a stipend.

The Integrated School Health Programme

The Integrated School Health Programme (ISHP) is designed to scale up school health services to reach all learners in the schooling system (approximately 12 million) over the next five years. The Programme builds on the successful collaboration of the Departments of Basic Education and Health since 2010 and has reached approximately 1 174 810 learners through bi-annual School Health Weeks and other means.

The department has also purchased 1 897 scales, 2 025 stadiometres and 12 659 Snellen’s charts that have been invaluable in ensuring service provision.

National Senior Certificate

The Class of 2012 achieved a pass rate of 73.9%. This is an increase of 3,7% on the 2011 results (70.2%). This is also an increase of 13,3% since 2009 (60,6%).

The quality of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations has continued to improve steadily. In 2013 the department introduced strategic security measures to further protect the integrity of the NSC Examinations.


The Department of Basic Education distributes more than 50 million workbooks every year. This is part of the commitment to improve literacy and numeracy skills of learners. To achieve this, the department has produced a series of workbooks to assist learners in Grade R to 9.

In 2013 up to November the department has provided 50 140 860 workbooks for Grades 1 to 9 in both volume 1 and 2, a total of 3 600 000 Grade R workbooks (Grade R learners receive four workbooks - 1 book for each term) and an excess of 16 million natural science workbooks for grades 4 to 6. The total number of workbooks distributed by DBE in 2013 alone is 70 million.

Source: Basic Education on allegations regarding service delivery, 18 November 2013

Improve the quality of basic education

Minister Motshekga set out the focus in basic education for 2011 as Triple T: Teachers, Textbooks and Time. In the State of the Nation Address of 2011, President Jacob Zuma reiterated the call that teachers must be at school, in class, on time, teaching for at least seven hours a day. The administration must ensure that every child has a textbook on time, and that teachers are assisted to create the right working environment for quality teaching to take place.

To track progress, annual national assessments in literacy and numeracy that are internationally benchmarked are set for grades 3, 6 and 9.

Teacher training, especially in mathematics and science, is another goal. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is strengthening the campaign to attract young people to the teaching profession through the Funza Lushaka Bursary programme.

The School Governing Body elections from 1 to 31 March 2012 provides an opportunity for parents to get involved in the schooling of their children.

Read more on how government is improving basic education.

A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path

The focus of higher education is on expanding access especially for children of the poor. This includes the conversion of loans into bursaries for qualifying final year students.

Significant progress has been made in turning around South Africa's adult education system with enrolment figures reaching 233 000 last year. The Mid Term Review Report, released on 1 June 2012, also notes that the Department of Higher Education and Training had increased access to higher education programmes by expanding spaces and options available at FET colleges and universities (Report notes progress in adult education -

In his 2012/13 Budget Vote Speech Minister Blade Nzimande announced an amount of R499 million allocated to all universities for teaching development grants to assist in improving graduate outputs and R194 million for foundation programmes to improve the success rates of students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds.

Over the next two years, R3.8 billion has been earmarked for universities’ overall infrastructure development, prioritising historically disadvantaged institutions. Two new universities are envisaged for Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.

Further education and training (FET) colleges are at the centre of skills delivery to drive the South African economy, thereby reducing unemployment and improving the livelihoods of millions of South Africans. Government has invested resources in public FET colleges to ensure that they deliver quality higher education and become institutions of choice for learners, parents and employers.

Read more about further education and training.

Read more on how government made post-school studies accessible to more young people.

The Green Paper on Post-School Education and Training was published for public comments and consultation early in 2012. The Green Paper provides a vision for the post-school education and training system sets the basis for building a coherent system and a broad policy for:

  • expanding post school provision to improve access
  • strengthening institutions to improve quality
  • setting out a vision and pathways for achieving a coherent post-school system with articulation, collaboration and coordination between the different components, as well as alignment between education and training institutions and the labour market and
  • a post-school education and training system that is equitable, accessible and affordable to all sections of the population, including free education and training for the poor.

The National Development Plan 2030 [PDF], released on 15 August 2012, proposes among others:

  • Increasing the number of university graduates and the number of people doing their doctorates
  • Building two new universities in Mpumalanga and  the Northern Cape
  • Building a new medical school  in Limpopo and  a number of new academic hospitals
  • Extending the length of first degrees to four years on a voluntary basi
  • Providing full funding assistance covering tuition, books, accommodation and  living allowance (in the form of loans and bursaries) to deserving students
  • Granting seven-year  work permits to all foreigners who graduate from a registered South African university.

Education budget

Spending on education will grow from R207 billion in 2012/13 to R236 billion in 2014/15. Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan made additional allocations of R18.8 billion over the medium term in his 2012 Budget Speech, including equalisation of learner subsidies for no-fee schools and expanded access to grade R. An amount of R235 million was added to the baseline of the national department of Basic Education over the three-year spending period to extend the national assessments system.

An additional R850 million was allocated to improve university infrastructure, including student accommodation facilities.

Outcomes for education

The education ministers and MECs have signed delivery agreements based on Outcome 1: Improved quality of basic education [PDF] and Outcome 5: A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path [PDF]. These documents list standards against which performance are measured.

Programmes and initiatives supporting education

  • The Gauteng Department of Education has launched an after-school support programme targeting 791 under performing primary schools in the province.

  • Minister of Further Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced changes to the National Students Financial Aid Scheme that will help needy students to complete their studies.

  • Minister of Basic Edcuation Angie Motshekga launched the Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development [PDF] on 5 April 2011. This Framework will help address many of the challenges and quality issues plaguing the education system.
    >> Angie Motshekga: Launch of Strategic Planning Framework for teacher Education and Development

  • Government will empower principals to manage their schools and they will be held accountable for maintaining a high standard of education in schools. All principals and deputy principals will enter into performance contracts in the future with clear performance targets. This will help to strengthen accountability in and district support for schools.

  • Government will track performance through the independently moderated annual national assessments in all public primary schools for learners in grades one to six and a sample of learners in Grade 9. More than 19 000 schools participated in 2011.
    >> Angie Motshekga on the annual national assessments results 2011
    >> Report on the Annual National Assessments of 2011

  • Government will continue investing in teacher training, especially in Mathematics and Science, through the Funza Lushaka Bursary programme.

  • In higher education, government increases access for poor youth by, among other things, converting loans into bursaries for qualifying final-year students.

  • In future, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will not start charging interest on student loans until 12 months after a student has graduated or left university. This will apply to all the NSFAS loans to students registered on 1 April 2011 and moving forward.

  • A further R50 million has been provided for postgraduate students who require financial assistance to complete their Honours, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees. These students will enter into loans agreements with NSFAS and the money they pay back will be earmarked to fund future postgraduate students.
  • Starting from the 2011 academic year, government will introduce free education for the poor at undergraduate level. Students in further education and training colleges who qualify for financial aid will not pay academic fees. This will assist in increasing access to the colleges for students from poor families as well as help the country to meet its needs for intermediate and technical skills.
  • A national skills fund project called National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) has been initiated to recruit and develop youth between the ages of 18 – 35 years to be trained as para-professionals in rural areas.

  • Early Childhood Development - a comprehensive approach to programmes and policies for children from birth to nine years of age.

  • Kha ri Gude Mass Literacy Campaign - teaches adults to read and write.

  • The Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign - calls on all individuals and organisations to assume responsibility for improving the quality of education.

  • The Bill of responsibilities - the Department of Basic Education, Lead SA and the National Interfaith Movement are driving this campaign to instil a rights and responsibilities culture in pupils.

  • Intervention in the Eastern Cape Department of Education - the Minister of Basic Education assumed responsibility for the areas in which the provincial department was struggling to meet minimum standards of service delivery, such as failure to provide textbooks and stationery to Section 20 schools and suspension of the scholar transport programme.

  • Schooling 2025 is a long term plan for the basic education sector which will allow for the monitoring of progress against a set of measurable indicators.

  • The Content Company has piloted a device that will help rural scholars bridge the digital divide. The device will connect underprivileged schools to live online information, without the complications normally associated with using modern computers in these areas.

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What Government says about education




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