Premier Welcomes First Learners to Cape Maths, Science and Technology Academy
There is no greater priority for our Provincial Government than ensuring that the future of every Western Cape learner is as bright and as prosperous as possible. Today marks the first day of the new school year in the Western Cape - and our education department, our schools and our teachers stand ready to bring knowledge, life-skills and success to every young person, in every community of our province.
2003 was another year of great achievement in Western Cape education - not only did we raise the Matric pass rate for the third year in a row (to a record 87,1%) and raise the actual number of passes by 784 candidates (to 33 769), we again made real progress in narrowing the remaining gap in the education standards in all communities. Our former Department of Education and Training (DEAT) and the House of Representatives schools achieved Matric pass rates of 71% and 85% respectively. When we recall that these figures were at 45% and 78,5% only four years ago, it is clear how far we have come.
One of the most important challenges that remains for education in our province is to better match the product of our education system to the needs of our economy and the national and international market. It has been estimated that many large South African companies currently spend as much as 10% of their payroll on educating and training staff - compared to the international norm of 4-6%1 - and much of this training is basic literacy and numeracy skills, as well as in the fields of mathematics, science and technology.
In these subjects, which remain critical for competitiveness, the Western Cape has continued to improve its education results, with the number of passes in higher-grade maths rising from 3461 in 2001 to 3679 in 2002 and again to 3950 last year. In higher-grade science the number rose from 3487 in 2001 to 3670 in 2002 and again to 3901 last year. With pass rates of 88,6% and 89,8% in these subjects respectively, our province continues to perform well relative to other provinces - but we are still falling short of the number of successful candidates writing these subjects in international terms.
It is for this reason that I am so pleased today to officially welcome the first Grade 10 learners to our new Cape Maths, Science and Technology Academy - the first of its kind in South Africa.
We officially launched the Academy last March, and since then it has been extremely active in recruiting top-notch educators as well as identifying and selecting this first intake of talented students primarily from formerly disadvantaged communities. With 129 learners already enrolled from communities as wide-spread as Beaufort West, Calitzdorp, Atlantis, and Groot Brak, and another 81 expected to take up their places within the next few days, our expectations are high for each and every one of these learners to pass all of their subjects well on the Higher Grade. There has also been a conscious effort in the enrolment process to balance the numbers of male and female learners - which has been achieved with 67 males and 62 females enrolled.
These learners will benefit from intensive teaching of the highest standards - completing the normal Grade 10 curriculum with a focus on mathematics, Physical Science, Biology, Life Orientation, and Computer Studies/Information Technology. With excellent computer and laboratory facilities, and a focus on proceeding to success in Tertiary education and in the job-market, these Grade 10 learners will break new ground in Western Cape education success.
Naturally the Academy is only a small part of our wider plan to continue improving the standards and results of our provincial schooling system - but it is a very visible symbol of the hard work and dedication that our Education Department, our educators and our school communities, in partnership with the private sector, is investing in the future of our children.
Our Provincial Government wishes every school and every educator, learner and parent all the best for the 2004 school year. The resources are in place and the field has been prepared for even greater success this year.
Enquiires: Riaan Aucamp
Cell: 083 778 9923