Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, released the findings of the School Monitoring Survey in Pretoria on Monday.
The Survey was commissioned in 2017 as an independent measure of the success, or lack thereof, at approximately 1,000 public schools. It aims to determine the standard of public basic education in South Africa. The Survey offers results not found in any other official statistics, including Statistics South Africa. It focuses mainly on the Action Plan to 2019: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030, and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 to 2019 policy documents.
Motshekga said that, “We use the survey results to improve our planning in a bid to turbocharge the system towards greater efficiency. It looks at the overall health of the system. She said it gave the public a “helicopter view of the progress and challenges in the sector”.
A number of key findings were released.
The average number of hours per year spent by public school teachers on professional development activities had increased. In 2017, the national average of 40 hours spent on this development was half the 2024 target of 80 hours. In the latest assessment, fewer hours were spent on this development by primary school teachers – averaging 36 hours. Secondary school teachers devoted an average of 44 hours on the other hand. Limpopo province showed the least improvement in hours committed to professional development by secondary school teachers, with the Western Cape province showed the highest increase.
The survey also found that the percentage of teacher absenteeism at public schools had increased by a national average of about 2%. Provincially, the Northern Cape, North West and Eastern Cape had recorded primary school teacher absenteeism at a higher rate than the national average.
A major improvement noted in the survey was the increase in libraries and media centres to public schools. The Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo showed the highest improvement in access to these services.
There was only a marginal improvement of the percentage of public schools that complied with physical infrastructure standards, such as running water, electricity and sanitation. Nationally, only 59% of public schools complied with all the minimum standards. With regards to classroom infrastructure, only 67% of public schools nationally complied with the minimum standards.
Approximately 84% of public schools were visited twice by district officials for monitoring and support services. The survey found this to be a significant achievement considering the large distances to be covered by these officials.
Motshekga said: “This is how far we have progressed as a sector. We are the first ones to acknowledge that much more needs to be done.”