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Address by the Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, MP, at
the Dinaledi Stakeholders’ meeting, Johannesburg, Convention
A NATIONAL IMPERATIVE
Deputy Minister Surty,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to meet with you this morning. Let me take this
opportunity to thank you for attending this gathering.
In 2001, we launched the national strategy for mathematics, science
and technology education in general and further education and
The strategy’s goal was to improve participation and
performance in mathematics and physical science in general but in
particular its aim was “to raise participation and
performance by historically disadvantaged learners in senior
certificate mathematics and physical science.”
As part of this strategy government established 102 dedicated
mathematics and physical science schools. These schools were named
Dinaledi Schools. The policy rationale was as follows (taken from
the original strategy):
“The policy of dedicated schools is therefore the most cost
effective way of deploying scarce resources in the teaching of
these subjects. In the context of competing priorities and limited
resources it is better to at least in the short term provide
sufficient and adequate learning and teaching facilities to fewer
schools with the aim of going full scale over a longer period of
time. Secondly, this policy will respond better to a range of
abilities and interests that learner display. It will allow those
with the most ability to study intensively and learner preference
in mathematics and science to be catered for. However, such a
policy should not exclude other learners from studying basic
mathematics, science and technology.”
In the short term the strategy aimed to improve enrolment and
performance, particularly of grade 10, 11 and 12 learners from
historically disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Dinaledi schools are mainly located in previously disadvantaged
communities and primarily serve disadvantaged learners. Many of the
pupils attending these schools live in poverty and daily face
social and economic challenges. If they are not empowered to obtain
the requisite skills for full participation as citizens of this
country, the future is indeed bleak for them and the country. This
country will not be able to face the challenges of the 21st without
the full participation of these learners.
The Dinaledi initiative of 2002, 2003 and 2004 had mixed results.
In some schools there was exceptional growth in passes in
mathematics and science in others not much changed.
Our evaluation and analysis of the three year Dinaledi initiative
as well as evaluations and research reports such as those of the
business trust of the quality learning project and the centre for
development and enterprise report on mathematics and science
provided much food for thought. We have learned many lessons.
Building on the research results and recommendations we began to
plan for the expansion of the Dinaledi schools.
Our analysis suggested that we could with a huge collaborative and
dedicated effort double the number of learners leaving grade 12
with a higher grade maths and science pass from 24 000 in 2004 to
50 000 in 2008. This is an ambitious target. And we decided that
the Dinaledi schools, a special or focus school approach should
continue to anchor this goal. In May 2005 the council of Education
Ministers approved the expansion of the mathematics, science and
technology dedicated schools to 400. In February 2006 the President
included the Dinaledi schools initiative and the goal of doubling
the number of maths and science graduates to 50 000 in his state of
the nation address. You may also know by now that the Dinaledi
initiative is part of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative
for South Africa (AsgiSA). In this year’s State of the Nation
address, President Mbeki indicated that and I quote:
“Everything we have said so far, concerning AsgiSA points to
the inescapable conclusion that to meet our objectives we will have
to pay particular attention to the issue of scarce skills that will
negatively affect the capacity of both the public and the private
sectors to meet the goals set by AsgiSA.”
The statement underscores the fact that the Department of Education
alone is not in a position to address the deficit of scarce skills
in this country.
I therefore appeal to you to pledge your support to the 400
The need for collaboration between the Education Department and the
private sector is essential. In the past we have seen that private
sector involvement has brought positive results in education.
However, all of us here today know that this role has not always
been well coordinated has led to overlaps and duplication, gaps and
contradictions and generally has not been harnessed to ensure the
greatest impact. Through positive collaboration, engagement and
partnership between government and the private sector the Dinaledi
schools can boost the attainment of pupils in fields of mathematics
and physical science.
The Dinaledi initiative can boost the number of pupils qualified to
follow careers in mathematics, science and technology after leaving
In conclusion, let me take this opportunity to thank those who have
supported us through the years and others who intend to support us
in the future. Your contribution means a great deal to us. I would
like to encourage you to continue with your passion and dedication
in support of education.