Launch of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign

Address by the Honourable Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Ms Hazel Jenkins on the Occasion of the Launch of the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign, Upington, 24 February 2009

We have converged here as the Northern Cape Provincial Government to officially launch the Quality of Learning and Teaching campaign which seeks to make citizens aware of the importance of education, and their roles, responsibilities and obligations towards education.

Ladies and gentlemen, our province and indeed our country is well endowed with natural resources. But our most valuable resource is our people, especially the young people. It is our human resource that will allow us to reap the benefits of all other assets.

Today’s campaign launch is a challenge to all of us to combine our forces in building on the firm foundation we have built. The proud history of our country must make itself felt in the prouder resurgence of a culture of learning and teaching.

We have a responsibility as a society as a whole to promote the best interests of our schools and ensure the nurturing of diligent learners through the provision of quality education.

In launching this initiative, we are optimistic that it will lend impetus to our collective will and desire for the children of our province to receive education of the highest quality possible, thereby enhancing their appeal as products of choice in the open market.

The focus of the campaign is on all schools, anchored on the provision of clear directives and expectations for quality education at all levels. The campaign is designed to focus attention on key activities that lead to high literacy and numeracy development.

The achievement of quality education for all depends on the actions of department officials, school principals, teachers, learners, parents and community members. Each of these are called upon to make a commitment to a 'Code for Quality Education', which describes the responsibilities and discipline required of them.

If all sections of society work together - government, communities, health care workers, civil society, business, media and other sectors - we can ensure that all learners benefit from quality education.

Programme Director, this campaign calls on all individuals be they parents, educators, business people or simply patriots to assume responsibility for improving the quality of education. The time for talk has long passed. We need action and this we will do.

Amongst other objectives, the campaign seeks to:
* Conscientise and sensitize citizens about the importance of education, and their roles, responsibilities and obligations towards education

*Advance education and the development of learners as individuals
* Encourage you as members of the communities to provide support to schools, teachers and learners;
* Improve the quality of education for all children, especially the poor, and to;
* Have this improved quality reflected in better learner achievements.

It is true that the challenges facing South Africa in the building of a quality education system that will meet the country's needs cannot be done by government alone. Instead it calls for coordination at all levels from school, and community, district, and province which as a matter of course, must include all stakeholders, including the private sector.

President Zuma, in his State of the Nation Address, called on all of us to be involved in education and to make education everybody's business in other words a societal issue. The Northern Cape Provincial Government has declared education to be its top priority. We subscribe to the call that “working together we can do more”.

To reiterate our point, we consider the challenge of delivering quality education as our key priority. It is well publicised that the numeracy and literacy levels of South African learners comparative studies with several of our less well-resourced neighbours remains poor.

We will, in our role as the Executive, ensure that he Department of Education provides all schools with the necessary resources in time for teaching to commence and to also assist schools to improve their performance thus ensuring regular tests are conducted and that results are reported to parents.

We also call on Teachers to make sure that you teach to advance and develop learners as independent individuals who are not only an asset to society, but also to be well rounded and caring human beings that are punctual, enthusiastic, well prepared for lessons, and of sober mind and body.

We urge learners to accept the main reason for being in school is to learn and develop academically, socially and culturally and also to avoid anti-social behavior such as theft, vandalism, assault, alcohol and drug abuse and other activities that disrupt the learning process.

In addition, the campaign will also focus on the critical role of all teachers, in the quality interventions required for effective learning and teaching to take place.

Ladies and gentlemen, teaching is not a job. Teaching is a calling; it is a way of life, is the noblest of professions. I know because I was a teacher in the dictionary sense of the word, but I will remain a teacher.

As educators we are obliged to live and work according to the Code of Conduct as agreed by the South African Council for Educators and we have a vital role to play in ensuring that quality education becomes a reality for all.

In his January 8th statement, President Zuma remarked that “education must be elevated from being a departmental issue, to a societal issue- one that occupies the attention and energy of all our people and that “ a commitment should be made to a: code for quality education, which describes the responsibilities and discipline required of them – non negotiables”. We shall thus not fail n our quest to prioritize education and elevate it to be a societal issue.

During the State of the Province Address, we committed ourselves as the executive to turn around the situation in our schools, to stabilise its administration and ensure that sufficient and effective support are in place to guarantee learner performance. In addition we said hat we demand that learner performance be “by design and not by default” from this year.

The launch of this campaign must be seen as part of the active, bold and decisive steps that we are taking to improve the functionality in and the normality of our schools. This I might add, is a non-negotiable imperative.

As I conclude, I further wish to reiterate our non-negotiable namely, that Teachers should be in class, on time, teaching, with no neglect of duty and no abuse of pupils! The children must be in class, on time, learning, being respectful of their teachers and each other, and do their homework. To complement the nurturing and educational development of our learners, who I term the “intellectual elite” I hereby call on teachers, officials, and parents to play their respective roles in producing learners of the highest calibre that we all can be justly proud of.

We humbly beseech our teachers, learners and parents to work together with government to turn our schools into thriving centres of excellence. We can do it and we will do it, together.

Let us all pledge to undertake these responsibilities to ensure quality education for all.

We need a South Africa that prides itself on being a Learning Nation. I am therefore honoured now to formally launch this Provincial Campaign for Learning and Teaching.

May the campaign inspire all South Africans, in the spirit of the new order and in the spirit of working together, to make our institutions of learning hives of activity that enrich and build our nation and its people.

Working together we can certainly achieve success and brilliance in our schools and improve learner performance. Ladies and gentlemen let me conclude with this remark: “If you think education is expensive, imagine the cost of ignorance”


I thank you

Baie dankie

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