Partnerships on nutrition programmes are integral to achieve our country’s goals of continuous improvement in educational outcomes. To provide an environment that unlocks the full potential of South Africa’s learners, is definitely the responsibility for all of us.
A fine example of this, is found in the partnership between Tiger Brands Foundation and the Department of Basic Education, which benefits 92 schools across the length and breadth of our country. This is a partnership, we wish to replicate with interested public and private partners for the benefit of our schooling system.
A holistic approach to nutritional support for learners, is a core part of the nation’s work – of giving full meaning to the Constitution injunction that “basic education as an inalienable basic human right” for all South Africans. This declaration was underscored in 2015 by UNESCO, when it adopted the Global Education 2030 Agenda, where the Sustainable Development Goals call for an “inclusive, quality and equitable education and lifelong opportunities for all”.
Here, the National Development Plan states that “by 2030, South Africans should have access to education and training of the highest quality, leading to significantly improved learning outcomes… The education system will play a greater role in building an inclusive society, providing equal opportunities and helping all South Africans to realise their full potential …”
To achieve these goals, requires many quality inputs, investments and initiatives, including infrastructure provision, support material rollouts, educator development, curriculum reform and stability, and dedicated programmes targeting specific areas of challenge, just to name a few. The positive effects of the Tiger Brand Foundation’s investments are already felt within the basic education sector.
We have begun to see an upward trajectory in quality outcomes, as is measured in a variety of national, regional and international assessment studies. But we have to concede that there is much more work to be done, and we are called to act together in maximising the country’s investment of about 5% of our Gross Domestic Product in basic education, and about 1,4% on higher education and training.
In this, pre-school education, in particular Early Childhood Development, has expanded massively. There is gender parity in school enrolment; and the retention and through-put ratios have improved substantially up to Grade 9. However, the schooling system needs to address the drop-out and repetition rates from Grades 9 to 12. The introduction of the Second Chance Programme for young people, youth development and energised social cohesion programmes, curriculum differentiation for more effective inclusive education, and the introduction of the three stream curriculum model – academic, technical and vocational streams – are innovations designed to improve curriculum choices, the quality of schooling, the reduction of repetition and drop-out rates, and deepen the quality of learning outcomes within the sector.
A vital element underlining it all, is the Government’s pro-poor policies, that see more than 9 million learners benefitting from the National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP), the second-largest provision of direct social assistance to the young, after the provision of child support grants.
The NSNP is supplemented for 64 000 learners by the breakfast nutrition programme, and related infrastructural and upskilling investments provided by the Tiger Brands Foundation and its partners.
This is an excellent example that the private and public sectors as well as civil society organisations could emulate to ensure the enhancement of teaching and learning strategies that are already in place. I am indebted to the Tiger Brand Foundation for our innovative partnership.
- Mrs A M Motshekga MP, Minister of Basic Education