Introspection about education is needed

Dear Editor

Introspection about education is needed

The MEC for Education and his department should desist from mauling educators and learners for not having achieved the desired Grade 12 results, but instead, should do some introspection individually and collectively, as to their roles in allowing this provincial education system to produce such ignominious Grade 12 results.

In 2008 the pass rate was 50.6% and in 2007 it was 56%, even then a dismal result. The Democratic Alliance welcomes the fact that there has been some improvement, from 50.6% to 51%, but there needs to be a dramatic turnaround if we are to create educational opportunities for our learners.

Education is the foundation for opportunities and the passport to the future. This system has unashamedly once more failed our children, resulting in a high failure amongst our learners, who will undoubtedly be dependent on the state for a livelihood. 

Some of the factors giving rise to low levels of academic effectiveness and contributing to the unsatisfactory Grade 12 results are:

  • The perilous state of a vast majority of schools which has a direct impact on the quality of education received.
  • 4000 unqualified educators in the rural areas, which comprises 90% of all rural educators.
  • Low teacher morale; ineffective teacher support; teacher overload which leads to unmotivated teachers with a low level of commitment.
  • 716 substantive vacant principal posts resulting in non-existent or non-effective leadership which equates to weak leadership with the resultant low results.
  • Stealing of learners’ time – The Department is obliged to enforce all statutes and collective agreements, but unfortunately the seven hour rule is not enforced, nor sufficiently monitored, resulting in much needed teaching time being stolen from learners.
  • Schooling has also being interrupted by union meetings and workshops during school hours which had an adverse effect on the education of learners. Learners were left unattended, unsupervised and neglected.
  • The unresolved Post Provisioning challenges resulting in the non-filling of posts in the most critical subjects at schools.
  • Not all learners had textbooks for all learning areas offered. The textbook budget for Section 21 schools is grossly inadequate and the less affluent learner cannot afford to purchase textbooks not provided for in the Textbook budget. Learners are forced to share the same textbooks and the underprivileged schools struggle to prepare subject notes due to financial constraints, resulting in the below par performances of learners where learner support material for effective teaching and learning is not available. Even when textbooks are allocated it arrives midway through the year due to various unacceptable reasons.
  • Educators not allowing senior educational specialists into their classrooms to assess the quality of subject matter given to learners Absenteeism and late coming of educators, robbing learners of much needed tuition time
  • Under resourced schools – skewed priorities of the Department of Education as 89.5% is spent on personnel with a large portion for non-critical posts
  • A lack of implementing the social cohesion campaign, resulting in educators not properly trained in the National Curriculum Statement Assistance, through the Learner Attainment Improvement Strategy, to the poor performing schools was rendered too late. It was only in late August 2009, a mere two months before the final grade 12 examinations that the much needed educational assistance was provided.
  • The Democratic Alliance is of the opinion that the grade 12 results can be improved substantially if the following measures are to be implemented.

  • Educators must be on time at school and teaching. The behaviour of educators must be vigorously monitored and addressed.
  • Educators must be evaluated and assessed for development purposes and growth in the subject matter. Currently they are assessed only for pay progression purposes.
  • Quality educators must be recruited and under qualified educators retrained in the subjects offered.
  • Management capacity must be strengthened at schools. Weak leadership result in poor discipline which leads to poor results.
  • All learners must timeously be provided with a textbook in each learning area offered.
  • Create access to education for the poor rural learner through an effective scholar transport program
  • Scale up delivery at the basic service delivery sites, the schools.
  • Deploy more capacity and authority to District offices to enable them to better monitor and support schools in their area of jurisdiction.
  • The need to lift teacher morale and provide a more enabling environment for effective learning and teaching in the classroom.
  • The Democratic Alliance firmly believes education is the backbone of any country; it provides opportunities and if learners are denied these opportunities because of a retrogressive education system,  then the Government should account to the citizens as to why they are failing the nation.

    Education is the path and vehicle to opportunities. Let us allow all those travelling along this path to successfully reach their destinations. We owe it to our citizens to provide them with a well serviced vehicle taking them to opportunities they could only dream of. Unfortunately, with these unsatisfactory results, only a few will reach their destinations.

    Edmund van Vuuren

    DA spokesperson on Education
    Bhisho Legislature