The Democratic Alliance is highly angered that the majority of learners in the Eastern Cape must continue to endure sub-standard levels of education. The senior officials in the embattled Eastern Cape Department of Education should stop being arrogant, self-centred and having a know-it-all attitude. They should pause and listen to those receiving these meagre and inadequate services. This all stems from the management not supervising staff, resulting in no-one being held accountable for tasks not done. The staff do not adhere to the supposed line of reporting. This has a common outcome, namely lack of accountability.
The Democratic Alliance proposes a non-negotiable stance on the agenda for accountability and is of the opinion that all officials (school & office bound) should sign performance agreements which will bind them to account for their actions or inactions within their departments or schools.
Other possible solutions that may contribute to an improvement in our education system in the Eastern Cape are as follows:
- The building and refurbishing of schools should be gazetted or funds should be ring fenced in order for the Department of Education not to transfer these funds to other programmes. Schools that were on the priority list to be built have without reason been removed or shifted down the list.
- School Inspectors should be brought back without delay. Currently educators are not supervised or assessed within the classroom situation. Subject Advisors and Education Development Officers are denied access to classrooms. This is a matter of grave concern; how do we determine whether the educator is indeed applying the correct methodology of subject presentation, whether classroom administration is adhered to and whether the educator has the relevant subject knowledge? Without the necessary assessment within the classroom, the Democratic Alliance believes that the Department won’t be able to improve the level of education if it does not know what the shortcomings are.
- The non-delivery of stationary and textbooks will ultimately have a negative effect on the final outcomes of learners’ performances. The lack of this support material has denied our learners access to necessary information. This is indicative of a Department that does not plan properly. The Democratic Alliance urges the Department to advertise the tenders for the manufacturing and distribution of this support material in August of the preceding year, so that successful tenders are known by September and delivery of these materials be completed during October/November of the preceding school year. This was done in the past and with early and proper planning it can still be done.
- Double parked educators: the Department has created a precedent in allowing these excess educators to remain at their original schools. This has been happening since 2005. The Democratic Alliance proposes that all these excess educators be allowed to apply for all vacant posts within the department. Some of them can be retrained to serve in other fields, such as subject advisors and education development officers. In the districts up to 245 schools are allocated per subject advisor. We also have a huge shortage of maths and science educators. Some of these educators may also be considered for in-service training regarding these critical subjects, with the ultimate purpose of using them as roving educators.
- Rural allowances and other benefits: The Democratic Alliance supports a rural allowance and other benefits, such as subsidised accommodation, vehicle allowances and school fee subsidies to those educators willing to teach in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape. Currently our learners in the rural areas are being further disadvantaged by the shortage of qualified educators for most subjects. Let us attract educators to these outlying areas by offering them reasonable and sustainable contracts.
- 30% of learners that do not have textbooks. The department will never alleviate the shortage of textbooks to the +- 600 000 current learners through the normal transferring of funds as per the norms and standards to schools in the Eastern Cape. The Democratic Alliance is of the opinion that a text book audit should be commissioned and all learners should be provided with a once-off basis with all the necessary textbooks required. These funds should be obtained from the National Department as it was stated in the President’s State of the Nation Address that all learners should be provided with textbooks. It is now time for the provincial department to get the ball rolling. Schools should also be compelled to have an acceptable textbook retrieval policy in place and must be penalised if they do not adhere to this much needed policy.
- The 23 district offices in the province should be aligned to the six district municipalities and two Metros in the Eastern Cape in order to have more effective and efficient service delivery. Currently there are too many incompetent officials, resulting in services grinding to a standstill. The more capable officials can then be deployed to these district offices, while the others can be retrained or redeployed to other government departments.
In conclusion, there are still many options that the Democratic Alliance can allude to, but by implementing the above, at least this department will be moving in the right direction, namely forward.