Pearls of Wisdom from Free State MEC of Education: Mr Tate Makgoe
Strand: Collaboration and Sustainability
- The Free State Province was ranked third in the 2015 matric results, what does it owe this achievement to and would you like to see the Free State take the number one spot in 2016?
The Free State had the highest percentage of progressed learners nationally and the historic, highest number of learners who registered for the NSC examinations in 2015. Special support intervention made it possible for the province to retain its third position despite the participation challenges. The fact that the province was number two in terms of support given to the progressed learners it is a clear indication of the amount of resources which were used to turn the situation around.
Free State has the potential, ability and capable teaching force to reclaim its number one spot in 2016. To date, it has set a new pass record in 2013 in as far as the NSC examination is concerned. It goes without saying that it will break its pass percentage record in 2016.
- The 2015 Matric pass rate has declined from 84.7%to 81.6%. In your opinion what do you think attributed to this drop and how can we better address that?
The highest participation rate and the number of progressed learners. A thorough analysis of the performance per district, per school and per subject was done. A turnaround strategy has been developed to address all issues raised. Strategic meetings have been conducted with the leadership of the Province, stakeholders in education, Senior Management of the Department of Education, leadership of the districts and schools to jointly focus our attention in the attainment of our number 1 spot.
- What are the major challenges facing the education system currently and how can these challenges be addressed through collaborative partnerships?
Management of curriculum, school leadership and tracking learners’ progression across the system per subject and per grade. The Ministry has started to focus on:
- The primary schooling and the Senior Phase as revealed by the Annual National Assessment. Extensive support is provided to increase the quality of teaching and learning.
- Training of the School leadership and continued training of School Management Teams on instructional leadership.
- Continuous induction of newly appointed teachers inclusive of Subject Advisors and principals.
- A dedicated focus and training on the management of School Based Assessment (SBA).
- What are we doing right as a country that we should continue doing concerning the education system?
The Ministry for the past years has focused on supporting Districts, teacher development centers and dedicated training on Mathematics, Languages. The National Strategy on Learner Attainment has ensured that the Ministry focuses on the key elements that make the education system functional. The additional focus on Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) through the MST Grant plays a pivotal role in providing an alternative pathway other than the Academic Stream through the resourcing of Technical Schools.
- The top performing district in the Free State was the Thabo Mofutsanyana District, what contributed to this achievement? How can the private sector, government, unions and civil society work together to improve the quality of our education?
The District for the past years has continued to institutionalize it’s teach and assess strategy. The involvement of key stakeholders in education through Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) has made it possible for the district to garner enough support to improve the quality of the learning outcomes. The District has strategic partners that support its schools and which are custodians of its teaching and learning strategy and this has assisted in the improvement of the quality of education in the deep rural district.
- What do you think about the National Department of Basic Education’s “progressed learners” approach?
The Ministry’s approach is internationally acceptable, that is, every learner has the potential to progress academically provided s/he is supported. The only challenge with the progressed learners is that, the schools failed to keep their records, develop their support program from the first tasks that they have underachieved. The involvement of parents through the regular feedback and dedicated remedial program were not properly coordinated and implemented and as a result the learners were given the benefit of the doubt.
The guidelines on Promotion and progression for grade 10-12 give better conditions governing the progression as of 2015 and this auger well with the intention of the Ministry to continuously improve the quality of basic education.
- The five-year partnership between the Free State Department of Education and Kagiso Trust is coming to an end. How will the Free State Department of Education remain sustainable with running the programme, keeping teachers and learners motivated to achieve good results?
We want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Kagiso Trust for having partnering with us in the last five years. Today, Thabo Mofutsanyane is the best performing district in the province country. We attribute the success of the district and the department to the Beyers Naude Schools Development Programme (BDNSP). The collaboration we had with Kagiso Trust has changed and improved learning environments for many schools.
As the department we have learned a lot from this partnership and we are upbeat that Thabo Mofutsanyane District is solid. The current leadership in that district is capable of sustaining the programmes and keeping teachers and learners motivated to achieve our 2016 target of 90 % pass rate and 40% bachelor passes.
We will regularly visit the schools throughout the province to acknowledge and appreciate the good work that is being done by our hard-working teachers.
- What are the top five lessons that the Free State Department of Education has learnt during the implementation of the Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme?
- The first and the most critical lesson we have learned from this partnership is the establishment of good governance and management principle. This will in a long-term contribute to the overall performance of our schools.
- The second lesson is the way this partnership was able to galvanize individuals, members of the community and business sector to get actively involved in changing the face of education.
- The third lesson is the realization that improving quality of education requires investment in school infrastructure and facilities.
- The fourth lesson is the importance of support to teacher development so that we create functional schools through the implementation of targeted leadership and relationship building training interventions targeted at educators.
- The fifth lesson is the use of incentives to inculcate the culture of performance in our schools. Various infrastructure handed over to schools which have performed well has gone a long way in encouraging their counterparts to enhance scholastic performance.
- What partnerships does the Free State of Education have with other countries with regards to higher education and training?
Currently, we are providing financial aid to students studying various fields in Cuba, Turkey, India and China. This include Medicine, Agriculture related field, Civil Engineering, IT and other scarce skills.
- How can NGOs like Kagiso Trust contribute to the development of our country?
We call on other stakeholders emulate Kagiso Trust in investing in educating our young people as this is an investment in the country’s future. We urge them to put more resources, time and energy into the development of our youth. This will ensure that as a country we achieve a sustainable and a long term development.
- What message do you have for Kagiso Trust as they celebrate their 30th anniversary?
As Kagiso Trust celebrate 30 years of successful empowerment of poor and marginalized South Africans, we want to take this opportunity to thank this organization for making an indelible impact in the education of the children of the Free State. Through Beyers Naude School Development Programme they have been working with schools and local government to transform underperforming schools into centres of excellence in learning, focusing on management strategies of the school curriculum and the accountability of the school governing bodies in the province. We wish this NGO to live many more years to expand its service to other needy and marginalized communities. Happy 30th Anniversary to KT!