Major education stakeholders pledge joint action for education reform

The most powerful role players in the field of basic education – including government, trade unions, business and non-governmental organisations – came together at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria this morning (16 July) to launch a clear plan for joint action to improve education.

They also created the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) which will mobilise resources and become the engine that drives this concerted effort to achieve the education targets set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).

And they established the National Education Council, a broadly representative advisory forum that will meet twice a year to review the progress of the Trust and consider whether circumstances demand adjustments to its strategic approach.

Four distinguished individuals have agreed to serve as patrons of NECT. They are:

  • Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission.
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, founder of Umlambo Trust, former Deputy-President of SA and head of UN Women.
  • Bobby Godsell, President of Business Leadership South Africa.
  • James Motlatsi, former President of the National Union of Mineworkers.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe delivered the keynote address at the launch and welcomed this civil society-led response to the education challenges identified in the NDP.

“The birth of NECT is a truly remarkable occasion because of the sheer range of support it represents and the clarity of its priorities,” said Sizwe Nxasana, CEO of FirstRand and chair of the committee that steered stakeholders towards this launch.

“The Framework that will guide the work of the Trust sets out the roles and responsibilities of government and civil society and specifies what the focus of collaborative action will be. By putting our collective weight behind a few key interventions we believe we will have the power to make some critical breakthroughs towards achieving quality education for all.”

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has expressed her unqualified support for NECT and the Education Collaboration Framework (ECF) that underpins it. “We are excited to be part of the Trust and envisage an involvement that will endure for many years to come. Change in the field of education requires staying power and commitment – and the Department of Basic Education embraces this spirit as we join our partners in NECT.”

In facilitating implementation of the Framework, NECT will focus on:

  • Developing professionalism in the teaching service.
  • Improving government capacity to deliver.
  • Improving resourcing of education in terms of teachers, books and infrastructure.
  • Developing community and parent involvement in education.
  • Strengthening learner support and wellbeing.

NECT will engage in five major areas of activity:

  • It will guide and oversee inclusive participation by business, labour and civil society in collaborative initiatives towards education reform.
  • It will provide a co-funding modality for government and private-sector funders.
  • It will sustain an education dialogue involving a wide range of education interest groups and individuals.
  • It will provide sound management of the programme, including project planning and initiation, and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Provide strategic project design and management capacity.

While NECT will not attempt to replace existing government, NGO and business initiatives in the field of education, it will drive greater co-ordination among these and encourage stronger integration with the national education reform agenda.

It will also seek to offer business more strategic collaborative options for their corporate social investment, in the belief that much CSI funding would have greater value if utilised more strategically to support a national effort.

The ECF also encourages government to direct a greater share of the education budget to NGO-managed activities so that the unique skills and capacity of NGOs are used in the wider interests of education.

NECT would provide an accountable funding modality for both government and business funds invested in achieving the ECF. The founding board of trustees (see leaflet) has been constituted with this objective in mind.

© 2019 National Education Collaboration Trust