VAN VUUREN: PARADIGM SHIFT IS NEEDED IN EDUCATION

Edmund Van Vuuren in Hogsback

DA MPLs Edmund van Vuuren, Dacre Haddon and John Cupido

DA provincial spokesperson on Education, Edmund van Vuuren, told the Legislature this week that a paradigm shift is need in Education to ensure that more learned complete Grade 12 successfully.

“The Democratic Alliance wishes to propose drastic changes within our system that will allow our disenfranchised the opportunities to achieve the dreams beyond their grasps. The poor literacy and numeracy levels that are attained by our learners and eventually resulting in some of the poorest Grade 12 results in the country, is symptomatic of a failing system that is in total collapse. Despite the shocking literacy and numeracy levels of learners, they are moved through the system, only allowed to be retained once per phase — every three years — until they reach Grade 10, still to a large extent unable to read or write, with extremely poor numeracy skills.

“The Democratic Alliance is proposing that the progression- and assessment policies pertaining to learners in Grades R to 9 should be changed with immediate effect. Learners should be promoted on the basis of outcomes achieved, and not on age cohort or the number of years spent in the phase.

“School infrastructure is a massive challenge. The backlog in the Eastern Cape currently stands at R28 billion. It will take approximately 20 years to wipe out the backlog if the prices in the building industry remain the same and also if the yearly allocation of R1,3 billion towards school infrastructure doesn’t change.

“Legislation should be proposed and enacted where schools to be built for a particular financial year is gazetted. In this case the changing or the removing of schools on the priority list, based on personal preferences, will be difficult to effect.  The budget of school infrastructure should be ring fenced or transferred to either the implementing agents or the Provincial Treasury, in order for this money to be spent for the purpose intended.

“The tide in education can be turned around, if there is a paradigm shift from treating everything in silos and making one person accountable for all issues, to working together in a team servicing specific schools. District offices on the whole have been ineffective in their role as a support and implementing structure to schools. To circumvent the incapability displayed through the inept behaviour of incompetent and uncaring officials, the Democratic Alliance wishes to put forward a model that will enhance the quality of education in the Eastern Cape.

“A House resolution was taken in the Provincial Legislature that circuit offices should be established as a matter of urgency. The Democratic Alliance is of the opinion that these types of offices will lead to a radically improved service delivery to schools, based on a more decentralized, collaborative, developmental and school focused team approached. The Circuit Team, which will be lead by a Circuit Team Manager, will be responsible for the specific needs of the schools within its circuit. The Circuit must be situated in close proximity to the schools it serve and must work as a multi-disciplinary team that is in direct and continuous contact with the schools within its jurisdiction. These Circuit teams must meet regularly, preferably once a week, to reflect, consult, debriefs and agree on a common way forward pertaining to workshops, school visits and issues that need urgent attention.

“Other pertinent issues that need to be addressed are as follows:

  • Appointment of Principals:  currently there are 816 acting Principals. This situation leads to instability and non-compliance of departmental responsibilities, leading to substandard managerial decisions and leadership qualities. Also, too many weak principals have been appointed due to the manipulation of a certain Teacher’s Union. The system for appointment of Principals should be reconsidered and outsourcing as a matter of urgency should be considered to negate undue influences.
  • Bulletins must be advertised regularly on a consistent basis in order to provide job security. There are too many temporary educators, namely 6 428, in the system.
  • Learners need to read at least 30 minutes daily in order to improve their literacy skills. This activity should be reflected on their time tables.
  • Curriculum Advisors should have entry into the classrooms. They should be allowed to assess the educator in the classroom situation. Currently they are prevented from doing this.
  • Principals should moderate educators’ work. Failing to comply should result in disciplinary steps being instituted.

If the above are to be implemented, we may just be able to turn the tide around,” he said.