The attack on Model C schools in yesterday’s (subs: Wed, 21 April 2010) education portfolio committee in the Bhisho Legislature is an assault on the freedom to choose a quality education for one’s children. The threat to conduct audits in Model C schools to see where their income comes from because they seem to have too many luxuries is unacceptable.

Please, provincial government, do not focus on breaking down that which works – rather fix that which is broken.

Many parents send their children to Model C schools out of desperation and make huge sacrifices so that their children receive a quality education. This is because the Department of Education in this province has consistently failed to deliver a quality education system to the learners of this province. This is why we have one the highest failure rates in the country with just over 51% of our Grade 12’s passing. The department should rather focus its energies on dysfunctional schools and schools with high failure rates than wasting their time attacking Model C schools.

It is well known that parents are desperate to get their children into Model C schools because of the poor results of state education. One’s future career prospects i.e. getting a good job and getting ahead in life are completely restricted if you get a poor education.

A DA-lead provincial government will take a number of bold steps to provide quality education. Firstly, we need to get the basics right. A Marshall-type plan needs to be developed with specific time frames to deal with infrastructural backlogs. The 771 schools without electricity in this province can never provide quality education.

A DA-led government will guarantee core minimum resources for every school which will include satisfactory classrooms, electricity, running water, access to a flush toilet, telephone, access to sports facilities and enough teachers.

Provincially over 2 800 schools do not have laboratories. It is critical that our children have access to information technology and become computer literate if they are to be competitive in our modern economy.

We need to maximise school performance. The DA will introduce a performance management system for administrators and educators that will improve the standard of education.

The DA will also take steps to increase the number of quality teachers. We will ensure regular performance assessments are conducted aimed at building teacher capacity and ensuring ongoing training.

Bold steps are needed to confront dysfunctional schools. The DA will create a dedicated dysfunctional schools task team which will implement a mentoring programme using school managers with proven track records and a set of clear performance targets.

The DA will introduce a province-wide bursary voucher scheme, aimed at giving a number of academically promising scholars from low income families the opportunity to receive education at the school of their choice.

The department must leave schools that are efficiently run to get on with the job of running their schools. There must be an end of political interference in teacher appointments where schools are producing good results.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 775 3444.