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New Basic Education Minister Siviwe Gwarube promises to create better and safer schools

Siviwe Gwarube

Basic Education Minister Siviwe Gwarube has outlined her vision for the department, emphasizing urgent reforms to address critical issues in the education system.

In a statement, she highlighted several key areas of focus, including literacy and numeracy, eradication of pit toilets, and overall improvement of educational standards.

“If we are going to raise a generation of children who are going to be primed for future economies, we need to get literacy and numeracy right, and we need to get it right urgently,” Gwarube said.

She stressed the need for structured pedagogical interventions to improve foundational skills among South African students.

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Gwarube also said, “The issue around literacy and numeracy rates in South Africa is very important to me. Some of these issues are close to my heart,” underscoring her commitment to addressing these challenges effectively.

A new report from the 2030 Reading Panel reveals alarming trends, with a significant decline in basic literacy among children in South Africa.

Many children complete grade one without knowing alphabets, and a staggering 82% of grade 4 children cannot read for meaning, the report shows.

Highlighting the importance of collaboration with stakeholders, including trade unions and industry experts, Gwarube said, “We want to improve the standard and experience of teachers in the sector.”

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She emphasized her goal to create a world-class education system through collaboration with cabinet colleagues and stakeholders to implement comprehensive reforms.

Addressing the issue of unsafe pit toilets in schools, particularly in provinces like the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, Gwarube said: “We can’t, 30 years into our democracy, still have kids who are dying of drowning in pit toilets.”

She expressed her commitment to working with cabinet colleagues from other departments to swiftly eradicate pit toilets.

“I look forward to working with my cabinet colleagues to address issues like pit toilets, which fall outside the education department’s scope, including responsibilities in transport, public works, and the department of water and sanitation,” Gwarube added.

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