The Basic Education Lekgotla is a conference organized by the Department of Basic Education to reflect on the performance of the entire basic education sector over the years.
Another top priority of the colourful event is to encourage teachers to work tirelessly towards the improvement of the quality of learning and teaching in the early grades to ensure that learners are equipped with the skills needed to cope with the curriculum requirements of the higher grades.
The 2017 Basic Education Sector Lekgotla kicked off on Tuesday at St Georges Hotel in Pretoria. The gathering pulled major South African bigwigs in the education sector, including other prominent citizens in other various sectors.
The Basic Education Lekgotla had in attendance representatives from the Basic Education Ministry, MECs from across the country, Head of Departments from Provincial Education Departments, District Directors and other stakeholders.
President Jacob Zuma, who was the chief speaker at the gathering, used the media to tackle issues like the learner dropout rate and grade repetition. Zuma told the crowd at the three-day Basic Education Sector Lekgotla that his government will always prioritize education because South Africa can only win the struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality through quality education.
He also called for school principals and management teams, whose schools performed poorly to be severely punished, adding that he will not entertain ‘ineptitude’ and ‘incompetence’ in the public service sector.
“I wish to emphasize that there must be consequences for principals and school management teams who recorded a zero percent pass rate. We must not allow any room in the public service for ineptitude and incompetence. Everyone must strive for excellence, more so in education.”
The President’s warning followed the slightly improved overall matric pass rate for 2016 matric class which rested at 72.5%, compared with 70.7% in 2015.
While the Free State carried the day with 88.2% pass rate, the usual culprits – Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal – lagged behind at 59.3%, 62.5% and 66.4%, respectively.
The class of 2016 was the third grade 12 cohort to write final examinations under the curriculum assessment policy statements (CAPS). Analysis showed mathematics is one of the key gateway subjects where the needle has not moved significantly over the years in the country.
Zuma called on appropriate bodies to ensure stationery packs are delivered to school before the month runs out. He admitted that “mud schools” are yet to be eradicated, but that progress has been made towards eliminating them.
“Government pays for these books. Administrators must ensure they reach our children on time every year,” he added.
As part of his administration’s contribution to the education sector, President Zuma announced that a total of 155 new schools had been completed in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and other provinces -some with sanitation, water and electricity.
In addition, he said under the nutrition programme rolled out by his government, nine million children were fed freely on a daily basis.
The Basic Education Lekgotla, which officially commenced on Monday will continue for three days.