Daily Archives: November 4, 2016

Minister Angie Motshekga: Briefing on investigation into exam paper leak in Limpopo

Minister Angie Motshekga on the leakage of the Mathematics paper 2, in the 2016 national senior certificate examination, in the Limpopo province

Good morning and thank you for attending this special briefing session which follows the announcement we made earlier this week that the Mathematics Paper 2, written as part of the National Senior Certificate examination, has leaked.

This was discovered at the Giyani High school, in the Mopani district in the Limpopo province. I am deeply disappointed by this unfortunate incident which has the potential of tarnishing the credibility of the National Senior Certificate examination. We take this breach very seriously given that over the last few years we have worked very hard to improve the security and all measures relating to the delivery of a clean examination. I must commend the team for acting swiftly in identifying the breach and for taking appropriate steps in ensuring that the examinations do not suffer further damage.

We have commenced with our investigations and we have engaged the services of the Hawks and we have also opened a case with the South African Police Service (SAPS). We have made significant progress in our attempt to get to the bottom of this breach. Our preliminary findings are as follows:

1. A copy of the question paper, which was not in exactly the same format as the final examination paper was received by one candidate who is a learner at the Giyani High School. The learner has come forward and made this confession voluntarily and he has made a full disclosure which is extremely helpful in taking the investigation forward.

2. Other learners from the school have also come forward and admitted to having received the question paper from a Whatsapp chat group, on their cell phones.

3. The question paper did not have the features of the final examination paper but the contents and sequence of the questions was exactly the same as the final question paper.

4. At this stage it would appear that the leakage could be limited to selected learners in the one school and a few learners from the neighbouring schools.

In taking this investigation forward so that we can ensure a speedy conclusion and to ensure the integrity of the examination as a whole, I have established a Ministerial Investigation Team that will fully investigate all aspects of this case. This Ministerial Investigation Team will work closely with the provincial colleagues and I have been assured by MEC, Kgetjepe, that his department will support this investigation and will take all possible measures to secure the rest of the examination. The Ministerial Investigation Team will report to me in the next six weeks and they will work closely with the Hawks and will engage the services of a private investigation company, if the case so warrants.

We are becoming acutely aware of the role of modern technology in the examination process and as a system we may not have adequately addressed the security risks associated with these communication innovations. We will obtain the expert advice of our Information Technology Specialists in addressing this matter. This may entail a review of our legislative framework and certain examination practices.

It pains me to imagine that amongst us are one or two individuals that are bent on undoing the good work that has been done over the years, in order to further their own selfish motives. These despicable elements must be identified and brought to book. These kinds of irregularities have the potential of jeopardising the future plans and ambitions of our learners. Therefore, a collective effort is required from all members of the community to weed out these elements. If you are aware of any of these activities please phone in on the DBE and PED call centre numbers (DBE Call Centre: 0800 202 933). All information will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.

To all candidates who are writing the examination, do not be distracted and my appeal to you is to keep focussed. Learners that deviously obtain an unfair advantage over others will be identified through our special measures that we adopt during the marking process and using post examination analytical measures. This examination is your gateway to your future career and as a Department we will not rest if this vital national asset is tampered with.

I thank you all once again for your support and lets continue to persevere to maintain high standards, high quality and a rigorous and robust examination system.

Source: Government of South Africa.

SOUTH AFRICA FORGES AHEAD WITH REFORM OF STATE-OWNED COMPANIES

PRETORIA, — The Inter-Ministerial Committee on State-Owned Companies (SOC) Reform has updated South Africa’s Cabinet on progress in the work it has done to ensure that all State-owned entities are efficiently run and financially viable.

The SOC reform committee, chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, briefed the Cabinet on its progress at the two-day Cabinet meeting held earlier this week in Cape Town.

A suite of decisions was taken to pursue the central policy objective of strengthening SOCs to enable them to meet their developmental objectives, the Cabinet said in a statement Thursday.

The decisions taken by the Cabinet included:

* Cabinet endorsed a Private Sector Participation framework for infrastructure delivery, which will guide collaboration between SOCs and the private sector;

* Cabinet adopted the guideline for the remuneration and incentive standards for directors of SOEs;

* Cabinet endorsed the broad thrust of a guide for the appointment of boards and executive officers, for which, the Department of Public Service and Administration will undertake a consultation process with provinces and municipalities, before Cabinet approval;

* The first draft of a new government shareholder policy was recommended for further consultation. This will culminate in the promulgation of an over-arching SOC legislation, and;

* The National Treasury developed a proposal for determining and costing developmental mandates of state enterprises. The introduction of this approach will help streamline commercial and non-commercial activities of SOCs.

These [decisions] better position the SOCs to contribute towards the implementation of the National Development Plan, building infrastructure, growing the economy, expanding industry, helping develop high-end skills, creating jobs and advancing other transformation objectives, Cabinet said. –

Source: Nam News Network

South Africa: MEC Belinda Scott Encourages Grade 12 Learners At Kwathintwa High School

Preparations for grade 12 examinations at KwaThintwa High School got a shot in the arm today when KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance, Mrs Belinda Scott, visited the school to encourage learners as they write their final exams.

MEC Scott urged learners to do their best so that they could get good results.

“This is your final year at this school. You must end this year on a high note. Work hard so that you will be rewarded handsomely.

“This is just the very beginning of your life. You have your whole life ahead of you. I know you can offer so much to KwaZulu-Natal and South Africa. You are the future,” said MEC Scott.

She continued that she would work with the Department of Education to get bursaries for learners who do well in their examinations. MEC Scott has adopted the school to make her contribution towards the development of the children. She donated 100 chairs, books and food packs for learners.

KwaThintwa High School teaches children with special needs, with the learners coming from all corners of the province. School Principal, Dr Mavis Naidoo, said she was encouraged by the support that MEC Scott is giving to the school.

She said the school had high expectations from the children.

“We do not put a ceiling on them. We have committed and dedicated staff who believe in our children. We ensure that this becomes a centre of excellence,” said Dr Naidoo.

Source: South African Government

Explosive Hazards in South Sudan Put Residents at Risk

WASHINGTON � Four months after fighting broke out in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, the United Nations Mine Action Service says that it is still working to clear explosive hazards around the city and that the situation in the rest of the country remains critical.

UNMAS, which is tasked with coordinating the clearance of explosive remnants of war (ERW), says it has found on average about 150 new explosive hazards each month in South Sudan since conflict there erupted in December 2013.

A hazard, says UNMAS, can be a small stockpile of grenades, bullets that soldiers have left behind, or a minefield covering millions of square feet. However, landmines actually represent less than half of the known hazardous areas in South Sudan

Kelly McAulay, an UNMAS program officer in Juba, said a majority of the accidents in South Sudan involving explosive hazards are from unexploded ordnance, or UXOs, including grenades or mortars.

No evidence of new landmines

Such accidents disproportionately impact men, specifically young men and boys. Still, the number of victims of such accidents is generally low in South Sudan – approximately 50 per year.

UNMAS keeps a running total of explosive hazards in its information management system for mine action.

“Currently we have got about 750 hazards recorded in that database,” said McAulay. She added there is no evidence new landmines have been planted since December 2013, when a political rivalry between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and former First Vice President Riek Machar triggered fighting in Juba that eventually spread across the country.

McAulay said the largest impact mines and UXOs have in South Sudan is preventing the local population from accessing services they desperately need, like water wells, schools or clinics.

“As we know, water is a very scarce resource in many parts of South Sudan and sometimes that can be a strategic target for people who are laying either mines or UXOs,” said McAulay.

Ceasefire declared in July

UNMAS said it is aware of 330 hazardous areas in Central Equatoria alone. Equatoria region and Jonglei state are most heavily impacted by explosive hazards.

“Toward the south of the country and around the Equatoria region, that is where we find these really tricky minefields that are very time intensive and cost intensive to clear,” said McAulay.

The warring parties in South Sudan declared a ceasefire in July, after fighting erupted near the presidential compound and spread to other parts of the capital. After the ceasefire went into effect, UNMAS received dozens of calls from worried Juba residents who thought there might be lingering unexploded ordnance.

One of those calls was from Lucy Andur, Head Mistress of Greenhill Primary School in Juba’s Gudele residential area, which was caught in the middle of fighting. The next day, UNMAS deployed a team to the school, where it found explosive damage and residual hazards such as bullets.

120 schools surveyed, cleared

After working for two weeks, the team found 30 explosive hazards, including one rocket propelled grenade, which UNMAS said can be fragile and sensitive once it’s been fired.

“Immediately, when [UNMAS] completed [its work] on the 18th [of August], our children reported to the school,” said Andur.

Since January 2015, UNMAS has surveyed and cleared 120 schools in South Sudan, including 21 schools in Leer and Mayendit counties that were caught in cross-fire or occupied by armed actors. Explosive hazards must be removed from an estimated 300 other schools so that children can safely return.

McAulay said UNMAS is prioritizing schools, clinics and Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites. Still, due to limited resources, South Sudan’s needs in the area of ERW clearance are increasingly difficult to meet.

More hazards are being found

The more UNMAS staff moves around the country clearing land and declaring it safe, she said, the more hazards they are finding.

“There is still a large part of the country which we haven’t yet surveyed and haven’t yet thoroughly accessed,” said McAulay. She cited Jonglei state, which is largely inaccessible, especially during the rainy season, as well as Upper Nile state; and the northern border region.

“We have largely been unable to access because of political sensitivities and the ongoing conflict,” she said.

UNMAS, said McAulay, prioritizes the removal of “urgent critical hazards when they are blocking children from accessing school, when they are around a health clinic, if the hazards are on an airstrip so urgent medical facilities cannot be flown in.”

She added that South Sudan residents who come across an item they suspect to be a landmine or UXO should remain at a safe distance and refrain from touching or approaching the object.

Suspicious items, said McAulay, should be reported to the South Sudan Mine Action hotline (+211 92 000 1055).

Source: Voice of America

Over 1000 new academics needed in higher education

The higher education sector will need to recruit at least 1 200 new academics per annum to respond to historical backlogs for staff attrition and to accommodate planned growth, says Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.

Minister Nzimande made the remarks when he was addressing doctoral students during the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) 2016 Doctoral Conference, in Johannesburg, on Thursday.

The key objective of the NIHSS Doctoral Schools Programme is to provide a hub for nurturing peer and mentor support networks for doctoral students and to facilitate ongoing intellectual support through various initiatives.

Minister Nzimande urged doctoral students to take advantage of all available forms of support, including important programmes like the National Doctoral Workshop and Mentoring Programme offered through the NIHSS.

Contribute to teaching wherever possible, as it is rewarding and gives you a broader perspective of your field. Although some of you will end up working in research institutes and other places, I hope that many of you are aiming for a career in one of our universities.

Achieving quality in all the roles of a university (teaching, research and social engagement) depends to a large extent on the availability of adequate numbers of capable staff at our universities, who are fully representative of a democratic South Africa, said Minister Nzimande.

The Minister acknowledged that South Africa and the continent have a particular challenge to produce especially black scholars, as many of them were denied access to high level and high quality education under colonialism and apartheid.

He said it is also no secret that the higher education sector currently finds itself in somewhat of a crisis in relation to the size, composition and capacity of its academic staff.

The challenge is multi-faceted, having to do with the slow pace of transformation, regeneration and change, the ageing workforce, developments in higher education worldwide that demand ever greater levels of expertise from staff, the relatively under qualified academic staff workforce, and low numbers of postgraduate students representing an inadequate pipeline for the recruitment of future academics.

Minister Nzimande said he was encouraged by the work of the institute in nurturing many important domains and aspects of African experience that are either subtly or very distinctly, different that need comparable research, analysis, theorisation and publication for use in primary, secondary and higher-education classrooms in South Africa, as well as greater continent and the rest of the world to reflect on.

As such, the students’ abstracts and papers presents confidence that upon completion of their PhDs, these will provide unique African narratives, theories, perspectives and histories, the Minister said.

NIHSS

The NIHSS was established in December 2013 through a special project of the Higher Education and Training Ministry, with the aim of broadly enhancing and supporting the Humanities and Social Sciences in South Africa and beyond, as well as advising government on related matters.

The institute has already awarded scholarships to 374 South African doctoral students, who enrolled in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

It has also awarded fellowships to 74 students from other African countries. A few students have already completed and/or have submitted their final PhD theses.

Source: South African Government News Agency.