7 January 2010The government is to take “urgent steps” to improve South Africa’s National Senior Certificate system, Education Minister Angie Motshekga said following Thursday’s announcement of a 60.6% pass rate for the matric students of 2009 – down from 62.5% in 2008.While the government’s aim was to focus on quality rather than quantity, the 2009 matric pass rate was still “disappointing”, Motshekga said.She noted that quality assurance council Umalusi had approved the quality and credibility of South Africa’s matric exams. “Umalusi found that the exams are comparable to the best in the world and that most question papers were of the highest standard.”These standards could not be compromised on, Motshekga said. “Indeed, it is through maintaining the standards of our examinations that we are able to assess the shortcomings in the quality of learning and teaching.“We must acknowledge that there is poor teaching in many of our schools. Management in our schools is often weak and lacks leadership and commitment. Our systems are also often inefficient.”More focus on teaching, learningA recent report on the implementation of South Africa’s school curriculum had indicated an urgent need to improve the quality of teaching in the country’s schools, the minister said.Steps had been taken to implement some of these recommendations, in particular to ensure that teachers and student would be able to focus more on actual teaching and learning in the classroom.All nine provincial education ministers would meet in February to discuss a technical report on the results, the minister said, as well as a number of proposed interventions to support the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement in Grades 10, 11 and 12.“Our provincial education department officials must support our schools by ensuring that textbooks and other teaching and learning materials are provided on time, and that real teaching and learning are taking place in all our schools from the beginning of the school year.”Among the positive gains made by the class of 2009, the minister said a greater number of matrics had passed well enough to gain access to tertiary education, and that more students had registered for maths and maths literacy.“We have set our focus on quality rather than quantity; that is the thrust of the new administration,” she said.Paper leaking in MpumalangaFollowing an exam paper leaking saga in Mpumalanga, Motshekga said that additional steps would be taken to improve exam processes in that province.Quality assurance council Umalusi had delayed the release of results for Mpumalanga after mathematics, physical science and accounting exam papers were leaked in the province.On Thursday, Motshekga said she was able to release the province’s results along with all the others after Umalusi informed her that it had found no evidence of a systemic problem in Mpumalanga.At the same time, Motshekga and the province’s premier and education minister had agreed that the examination structures in Mpumalanga’s education department would “immediately be re-constituted,” and that the national Department of Education would take over the running of exams in the province “until the necessary systems were in place.”The police’s special investigating unit, the Hawks, was busy investigating the exam leaks, Motshekga said, adding: “Those found guilty of stealing and selling question papers are criminals and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”Mpumalanga was South Africa’s worst-performing province in 2009, with a matric pass rate of 47.9%. While the Western Cape performed best overall (75.7%), KwaZulu-Natal was the only province to improve on its 2008 pass rate, registering 61.1% compared to 57.6% the previous year.In total, 581 573 full-time candidates and 38 595 repeat candidates wrote their matric final exams in 2009.Source: BuaNews
13 March 2012 Journalists from the Middle East, visiting the country as guests of Brand South Africa, have been introduced to the constructive role businesses play in reaching SA’s economic growth, development and transformation goals. They have also learned how the National Treasury is responsible for managing South Africa’s government finances. Their visit to Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the National Treasury were part of Brand South Africa’s aim to expose the international press to South Africa’s business environment, as well as its regulatory and policy systems. Mahmood Saberi of Gulf News, a Dubai publication, said: “I’m here to basically see how trade relations and investments can be improved between the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.” Saberi also said he was looking forward to seeing scenic spots of South Africa like Table Mountain. Saberi is joined by Peter Smith, of Dubai Gulf Business; Hala Saqqa, a senior account executive at Hill and Knowlton Strategies in Dubai; Roger Romanos; the senior editor at Al-Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group; and Bahaa Alawam, a Syrian journalist.Uncertainty of growth in the world The wellbeing of Europe’s economic system and the US economy are just some factors that will determine whether South Africa reaches its projected 3.3% budget deficit by 2014. Lungisa Fuzile, the director-general of the National Treasury, said: “Domestically, we need to invest in things that are growth-intensive such as infrastructure, which will make business transactions easier. These, for example, are ports and roads. “Regulatory regimes in different sectors also need to be revised so there is no barrier to entry for people to do business.” Externally there had to be a South African presence in markets with higher growth potential, and seven of these markets were in Africa.Surviving 2009 recession South Africa’s financial system showed great resilience during the 2009 world economic crunch. Fuzile said: “In South Africa, we have a four-pillar model, meaning we have four big banks and other smaller ones. “The fact that we survived the recession in 2009 is largely due to the fact that these banks’ dependence on foreign funding is limited.” Another factor that led to South Africa withstanding the recession was the National Credit Act, which made seeking credit harder. “Although there was talk that this Act was too restrictive, recent readings in terms of credit extension ratings show that they are rising, so this Act is not too restrictive,” said Fuzile.Wal-Mart and Massmart deal The Wal-Mart-Massmart merger was recently approved by the Competition Tribunal. The deal concludes the R16.5-billion (US$22-million) cash offer by Wal-Mart to acquire 51% of Massmart at R148 ($18) per Massmart share – a smaller stake than the initial 100% offer made in September 2011, but one that would see Massmart retain its listing on the Johannesburg stock exchange, the JSE. Fuzile said: “The message that was being sent by the conclusion of this deal by the tribunal is that of free trade because we do not want to restrict entry to our markets for others hence we also feel the brunt later.” The Tribunal said: “Wal-Mart does not compete with Massmart in South Africa and its only presence in the country is a small procurement arm that sources local products for its stores globally. “The merging parties contend that the merger will indeed be good for competition by bringing lower prices and additional choice to South African consumers. We accept that this is a likely outcome of the merger based on Wal-Mart’s history in bringing about lower prices.”The voice of business in SA Busa acts as the representative of South African business views on the continent and internationally. It interacts with the government in terms of policy and what will make being in business easier in South Africa. Its objectives include: promoting broad-based black economic empowerment, advancing and promoting initiatives aimed at job creation, labour law amendments and the alleviation of poverty, and enabling business to play a meaningful strategic role in South Africa’s overall development. Nomaxabiso Majokweni, Busa’s chief executive officer, said: “Being in business in South Africa is easy, starting with the registering of your business, which takes nearly a month depending on the complexity of your business.” The 2011-2012 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report indicates that South Africa is at position 50 and has the most competitive economy in sub-Saharan Africa. Majokweni said: “Africa is still a huge market for South Africa but we need South African businesses to invest in Africa instead of just importing and exporting.” First published by MediaClubSouthAfrica.com – get free high-resolution photos and professional feature articles from Brand South Africa’s media service.