EC PUPILS MIGRATING TO THE WC FOR BETTER QUALITY EDUCATION

It comes as no surprise why parents in the Eastern Cape are choosing to move their children, albeit at great costs and financial sacrifices, to the Western Cape to complete their education.

The Eastern Cape education is on the verge of total collapse with the post provisioning of 2012 not fully implemented and educators on a go slow, resulting in a multitude of schools without their full complement of teachers.

While the Eastern Cape still boasts some of the country’s best schools (for example, Grey College, King Edward, Theodore Herzl, Riebeeck College, Selborne College, Cambridge, Alexander Road, etc ), the majority of schools, most particularly in the poorer communities and in the remote rural areas, are providing little or no education opportunities for our learners.

Eighty percent of schools in the Eastern Cape, as per information supplied to the Portfolio Committee on Education, are dysfunctional with only 11% of High schools responsible for 70% of the pass% of Grade 12 learners. Thirty percent of our learners in the Eastern Cape have no textbooks and there are more than 500 mud schools in the province, although, because of no credible data bases, this number may be much higher.

The eradication of mud schools are taking place at a snail’s pace and more than 10 000 classrooms are still needed to relieve the congestion. As a result of shortage of classrooms, the phenomenon of multi-subject teaching has reared its ugly head in a number of small schools in the rural areas of the province. Multi subject teaching is where more than one teacher teaches different subjects to different groups in one classroom.

The province also has a multitude of small and farm schools with an enrolment of less than 135 learners and a staff component between one and five that are responsible to teach all grades from grade1 to grade 7 or grade 10 to grade12. This scenario has resulted in the unhealthy practise of multi-grade teaching; i.e one teacher teaches more than 1 grade in the same classroom.

Eighty four percent of all schools are in dire need of repairs and ablution facilities and potable water are not adequately provided to the majority of rural schools.

Put simply, the ANC government is failing in its mandate to provide even the most basic education. The very people that the ANC promised to serve, are now filled with despair and uncertainty, and are leaving the Eastern Cape for a province run by a government other than the ANC.

Unlike in the Eastern Cape, in the DA run Western Cape ALL learners are afforded the opportunity to attend school and receive a basic education, whilst in the Eastern Cape a number of deserving learners who qualifies to be transported to schools as per the national scholar transport policy, are not afforded this opportunity.

In the Western Cape the majority of teachers are on time, in class and teaching, and unlike the Eastern Cape, which has the highest rate of absenteeism in the country, teaching time is not maximised. Research has shown that contact time in most of the schools in the poorer communities is only three and a half hours, whilst the seven hour school rule is not enforced, nor adhered to.

For the DA in the Western Cape, not even the right to a “basic education” is enough. It is this right – the right to a “quality education” – that guides every policy, action and strategy that the DA government takes. For in an Open, Opportunity Society for All, every child should be afforded the opportunity to realize his or her full potential through access to a “quality education”.

If we just take the 2011 National Senior Certificate (NSC) results into account, the Western Cape (WC) outshines the Eastern Cape (EC) in terms of quality in a number of ways.

The percentage pass in the WC is 82.9% as compared to the 58.1% in the EC. A total of 38% of the candidates in the WC achieved access to a Bachelor Degree study at university, compared to 15.8% in the EC. The number of schools in the WC that achieved a percentage pass of 90% or more is 191 out of 358 or 53.4% of all schools, while in the EC 116 out of 918 or 12.6% of schools have achieved this milestone. Only 30 out of 358 or 8.4% of high schools in the WC are still classified as underperforming (achieved less than 60% pass in the exam) as compared with 467 out of 918 or 50.9% of all High schools in the EC.

Good results in Mathematics and Physical Science subjects open up study and work opportunities for young people and are important for the growth of the EC and South Africa as a whole. Again, if we compare the WC and the EC – In 2011, 68.7% of candidates passed their mathematics exam in the WC as opposed to 33.5% in the EC. In Physical Sciences, 65.3% passed in the WC, as opposed to 46% in the EC.

It is clearly evident that the quality of education in the WC exceeds that of the EC, the question is why? If we consider something as simple as textbook delivery, one can see where the differences lie. In the WC, the Department has delivered to all schools at the end of last year (2011), over two million textbooks and readers, over and above the national norms and standards allocation.

In the EC, however, schools live in uncertainty whether they will receive any of the national norms and standards allocations. The EC is tardy in its payments and delivery of textbooks and other resources such as school furniture.

The problems lie within the EC Education Department, which is heavily influenced by the unions. It is financially mismanaged and there is increasing pressure on schools to fill vacancies with unqualified teachers, especially foreign nationals. In the EC we are seeing a system rapidly in decline, such as officials doing business with the Department, no credible data and information systems, absolute lack of filing systems, little or no internal control measures, resulting in the Department receiving adverse financial opinions as well as disclaimers. In short, this Department’s finances are in a mess, while in the WC all key indicators in the province are continuing to show a positive trend under a DA government.

The WC is a reflection of a maturing provincial education system responding positively to a number of systems improvements. More children have access to schools staffed with qualified teachers who are present, prepared and utilising textbooks effectively, and more children are at schools, managed by competent and accountable principals.

It therefore comes as no surprise that our parents in the EC are making the decision to relocate their children to a DA – run province.

If they as parents consider the uncertain future their children have in an education system in decline – who would blame them? It is opportunities that the parents of the EC are seeking, the same opportunities that the open opportunity society provides.