South Africa’s drive for universal the means to access education, as well as for improved learning and teaching, are beginning to pay off according to President Jacob Zuma.
Presenting his fourth State of the Nation address, Zuma mentioned that more than eight-million students happen to be enrolled in no-fee schools and benefiting from the government’s school feeding scheme, together with school attendance now in close proximity to 100 percent for the compulsory band of 7-15 years of age.
“A significant victory is the doubling of grade R enrollment, from 300 000 in 2003 to 705 000 in 2011,” Zuma pointed out. “We seem to be positioned to fulfill our target of 100 percent coverage for grade R by 2014.”
Having said that, he pointed out the fact that the government continued to be worried by the report of the General Household Survey in 2010 that just over 120 000 children in the 7-15 year old band were out of school.
‘In school, in class, on time’
At the same time, Zuma congratulated the teachers, learners, parents along with the communities for the hard work, which in turn saw a rise in last year’s matric pass rate, adding the fact that the government’s rigorous focus on education appeared to be bearing fruit.
“We will continue to invest in training of more teachers who can instruct in mathematics, science and African languages. Our call to teachers to be in school, in class, on time, teaching for a minimum of seven hours a day continues to be crucial to success … we thank the teacher unions for supporting this campaign.”
Higher education targets
On the subject of higher education, Zuma pointed out that the government was outperforming its targets, with approximately 14 000 school leavers being placed in workplace learning opportunities during the last year, as well as over 11 000 artisans having carried out their trade tests.
He appeared to be thrilled to see a rise in the number of learners enrolled in Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, and encouraged parents to motivate their children to enrol in these colleges, given that the country required the skills these colleges happen to be offering.
To expand the means to access tertiary education, Zuma announced that R200-million had been invested in assisting 25 000 students to repay their debts to institutions of higher learning this past year.
He additionally revealed that a total of R300-million ended up being assigned for preparatory work towards constructing new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape.