Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday that the Education Lekgotla in Boksburg will focus on improving basic education.
He said the gathering would look at steps to be taken this year and beyond to make basic education a more effective and efficient platform for the creation of an intellectually empowered youth prepared for higher forms of learning.
"It is at the basic level of education where we must inculcate and embed the culture of learning; where we must produce children who are obsessed with consuming existing knowledge and create a burning desire among them to produce new knowledge," President Ramaphosa said during his keynote address.
"This we must do while simultaneously working to build a citizenry that is conscious of, and committed to, the ideal of a truly united nation underpinned by non-racialism, non-sexism, democracy and shared prosperity."
Ramaphosa said without quality basic education, the country could not grow and develop, redress the injustices of the past, and build a socially cohesive nation.
"Despite the challenges, we are making progress. The class of 2018 did us proud by achieving the highest national pass rate recorded that of 78.2%."
The president said the analysis of the NSC examination results showed that the bulk of the improvements had occurred in historically disadvantaged schools.
"The proportion of successful candidates from ‘no fee’ schools who received bachelor passes was far greater than among those from more affluent schools."
The NSC qualification continues to grow in inclusivity and diversity with the growth of technical subjects."
He added that in a historical event, deaf learners were given the opportunity to write South African Sign Language as a Home Language.
"One reason why we are excited about the general upward trend in our Grade 12 results is that we know this is a manifestation of improvements occurring at all levels of the schooling system."
International trend study data point to ongoing improvements over the last 10 to 15 years in what our learners know and can do at the primary and lower secondary levels."
Ramaphosa said it was important to recognise that there was still a long way to go.
"As we mark 25 years of democracy, our actions will continue to be anchored on our recognition of education as a key driver of fair and sustainable development."
Working together, we must strive to ensure that our children excel from an early age, especially in the prioritised areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, popularly known as STEAM. This will better prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
The president said that globalisation, technological disruption and digitisation were re-shaping the way people lived, worked, socialised, shared knowledge and participated in increasingly complex, dynamic and diverse societies.
"This creates new global challenges – like the changing nature of work – and can exacerbate existing ones – like poverty and inequality."
However, these social and economic trends also offer opportunities for wider access to information, innovation, higher productivity and a better quality of life for all."
Ramaphosa said now more than ever before, there needed to be a focus holistically on the development of children.
"From early childhood development to senior years in the schooling system, a vibrant learning environment must exist that frees the potential of our children."
We must ensure that the limited resources we have are effectively allocated and spent in the interests of future generations."
The president said there needed to be a strong emphasis on a vibrant learning environment because there was nothing more disastrous than schooling without learning.
African News Agency (ANA)