The siren is sounding loud and clear. We need to bring back competent school inspectors and subject advisors into the classrooms. The unacceptable outcomes obtained in the national midyear exams by the Eastern Cape Grade 3, 6 and 9 pupils is an indictment of the ineptitude of the Provincial Department of Education.

The Democratic Alliance is horrified, although not surprised, by the low pass percentages obtained, as reflected in the printed media today (subs: Tues, 6 July). These results can only be ascribed to the poor adherence by the educators concerned as to the set outcomes to be achieved, as well as to the lack of assistance by departmental officials in terms of management, supply of learner-teacher support material and the overcrowding of classes.

Currently there are 140 schools per subject advisor in the Eastern Cape, resulting in the majority of schools not being serviced. No Provincial Mathematics Subject Advisor has as yet been appointed, impacting negatively on the management of this most critical subject, as reflected by the 28.5% pass of all learners who wrote mathematics in the Libode, Lusikisiki, Maluti, Mbizana, Mount Fletcher, Mount Frere and Qumbu districts.

Advisory services are also grossly neglected in that many of the existing subject advisors are ill equipped to give the necessary guidance to educators. In other instances subject advisors with the necessary skills and subject content are barred by certain groups of educators from entering their classrooms, attributing to these dismal results. The lack of action by the education department to act decisively against those educators refusing subject advisors into their classrooms is also contributing to the lack of knowledge being shared.

The DA firmly believes that should the department act more assertively against educators coming to school unprepared and underprepared, they might just be able to turn the tide around so that education becomes the foundation for opportunities for all of our learners.

There is no quick-fix for our existing educational problems. It is time that the National Government realises that the rot exists from ground level up to the highest echelons in the Department of Education.

Answers must be demanded from the department when one considers the fact that public funds had been earmarked to improve learner performance. We do not see any value for money. Answers and action is needed now, to avoid repeat embarrassment for the Eastern Cape at the end of the year.

The DA is of the opinion that it is now time that the National Government prioritise education by ensuring that every school is equipped in terms of material and manpower, and that competent officials are appointed to ensure that education takes its rightful place in society.

For further information, please contact Edmund van Vuuren, MPL on 072 184 7840

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