Joemat-Pettersson: Northern Cape conference for school principals (07/02/2003)

7th February 2003

Date: 07/02/2003
Source: Northern Cape Provincial Government
Title: Joemat-Pettersson: Northern Cape conference for school principals


SPEECH BY THE NORTHERN CAPE MEC FOR EDUCATION, TINA JOEMAT-PETTERSSON, AT THE SCHOOL PRINCIPALS CONFERENCE, City Hall - Kimberley, 7 February 2003

Head of the Department, Mr Moraladi,
Officials of the National Department of Education,
Officials of our Provincial Department of Education,
Our Special Guest,
Most importantly today, the Principals.

I greet you. Colleagues we are here to reflect on the all important questions of policy and action. Accordingly it is critical that we ascertain what the important Strategic Objectives are for the year and how we intend to go about to accomplish them.

Similarly I trust that this Conference will be a success. I must acknowledge that the marked improvement towards consolidating quality outputs as exemplified by our Senior Certificate results speak to the fact that we have so far been able to respond to the challenges posed to us by objective reality and not perceptions of reality.

I need not emphasize the point that our government and our people are obviously very impressed and proud of the work that you and all educators are doing. We want this Conference to further create clarity around the good work that is still outstanding, to reinforce it.

This Conference must streamline and mainstream government policy at a Departmental level in respect of Education, from a National to a Provincial level. Including the manner in which education does not only seek to achieve sectoral objectives, not withstanding their criticalness.

Our Departmental objectives complement rather then counter balance the creation of a better life.

We must also ascertain how we respond to the ultimate objective of government that of poverty reduction and the creation of a better life for all.

The time has come when we cannot wait any further to reaffirm the school as a centre of community life. In the spirit of Batho Pele the school must be people centred. Obviously you as principals are the axis of this centre, the grinding wheel of progress at the school turns around you.

Accordingly this Conference was therefore predated by sampling a number of principals to ascertain what are the issues that you think this Conference and therefore our Department should seek to achieve in the current year in the context of our overall transformative goals which must drive us at all times.

This is your gathering to learn, ascertain facts and share knowledge; colleagues we are here to do nothing less than the same thing. No doubt we have all necessary policies in place let's ascertain their meaning and objective and act accordingly henceforth.

Person of Ceremonies, in this regard I particularly refer to the question of issues such as creating clarity around curriculum guidelines and developments. We will need to take such back to our schools so that we are contextually responsive to the challenge of the classroom.

Equally important is the significance that the school and inter alia the SGBs amongst stakeholders should place on the school nutrition programme. This is one very key programme of our department in the current year. I want to see the bushes in some of our schools replaced by blossoming vegetable gardens as I said we should not only respond to sectoral objectives.

Our tasks are broad and interwoven; they are part of the overall objective of government to push back the frontiers of poverty.

Distinguished Colleagues let me take this opportunity of privilege and say:

I trust that when I say educators are a people at the service of our nation, I speak about you and how you regard our noble profession. Similarly therefore executing that task does not become an extra mile to walk but a self-proclaimed duty.

We need to take the necessary steps as managers at schools and as Educators to explain to parents procedures for exemption of school fees. I have received many complaints of parents who either do not know what to do or whose children are refused access and this is a major problem. As people who should know government policy and are at the centre of community life, the axis of that life we should interact closely with members of particularly the school community.

In this respect we will then give meaning to the dictum of Batho Pele. I am not impressed about these cases where learners had to be turned away simply because they are genuinely poor. This is a caring government with caring policies and therefore acting without care for the people undermines that fundamental character of our government.

Person of Ceremonies let me return to an earlier subject I raised:

Given our achievements in terms of our grade twelve results we must also ask the pondering question of what it is that we have done right and where can we improve. We should not ponder for its own sake but act in accordance with the answers we find.

Importantly we must seek to ensure that quality is the hallmark of our education by extending these positives through out our system. Based on a thorough assessment of the performance of our system in all grades and in many respects, we should horizontally filter the progress made through out the system.

I feel duty bound in making the observation that we need to put in place programmes at the level of the school in respect of career guidance. Many of our matriculants with exemptions fail to access available resources to pursue their studies simply because their life World ends in the school. They have no plans beyond passing grade twelve and this should be worrisome.

Many did not apply to tertiary institutions or seemed aware of the fact that there is a Premiers Bursary Fund they could access. They were even less aware of our own Higher Education Institute, these are issues that must concern us all. Accordingly we must commit ourselves to changing this reality in this Conference.

I conclude by welcoming you all to Kimberley for the travellers and to this Conference in particular for the rest. I am sure that we will deliberate successfully and act accordingly. I am more than certain as line managers of our department we are certain of the immense expectations and the lessons that other people hope to learn from our Province.

Furthermore that if we do not continue to act diligently in the implementation of our policies and objectives henceforth. Then these policies will merely become empty resounding phrases and will have nothing to do with excellence and the creation of a better life. Demands of objective reality for which we especially you, our schools are recognized for so passionately pursuing.

I Thank You

Source: Northern Cape Provincial Government (http://www.northern-cape.gov.za)