The Democratic Alliance welcomes the 3.5 % improvement in the provincial 2012 matric pass rate of 61.6%. However the province has failed yet again. As in 2011 it is the worst performing province in the country.
The national pass rate for the Class of 2012 is 73.9 %.
In 2011 the Eastern Cape was the worst-performing province with a pass rate of 58.1%. Parents in the Eastern Cape are choosing to move their children to the Western Cape to complete their education, where record numbers of children are kept in schools and where an excellent matric pass rate is maintained annually.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education is simply not doing enough, nor is it doing anything new to improve the pass rate in the province.
Eighty per cent 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 percentage of Grade 12 learners.
Looking back at the 2012 school year, we can see why there has been little improvement and why the Eastern Cape remains the worst performer:
The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Education was placed under administration in March 2011 and remains so, amid accusations of little co-operation between provincial officials and those from the national department.
Eastern Cape education remains on the verge of total collapse with the post provisioning of 2012 still not fully implemented. During the year this resulted in a go slow and strikes by Sadtu.
In April 2012 Sadtu had finally succeeded in driving out the head of education, Adv. Modidima Mannya, who succumbed to the undue pressure exerted onto him by the union. Sadtu defied Mannya on many occasions, and absolutely resisted the carrying out of post provisioning for 2012, in other words, the movement of excess educators to substantive vacant posts. The department remains operating with an acting superintendant-general.
The department is spending 90 % of its R24.6 billion budget for 2012/13 on compensation of employees. Yet temporary teachers are still struggling to get their money from the department. Media reports throughout last year exposed the extent of corruption and maladministration due to officials who are doing business with the department.
After the DA exposed thousands of workbooks being returned to government warehouses as a result of ordering mistakes, both the provincial and national administrations attempted to do political damage-control by blaming each other.
The provincial department laid the blame at the door of the Department of Basic Education as the latter is responsible for the national roll-out of workbooks. The Basic Education Department had, however, indicated that incompetency within the Eastern Cape Education Department had led to the blunders.
According to Minister Angie Motshekga, 24 862 workbooks were sent to schools in the wrong language and a further shortage of 14 711 workbooks was reported for the first half of the year, as at 5 June 2012.
The Minister blamed these problems on incorrect school and learner numbers provided to the national department by the Eastern Cape. The Eastern Cape apparently failed to tell the national Department about an additional 115 544 learners that needed books. The province also gave data for Grades at 2 055 schools that did not exist.
There are more than 500 mud schools in the province, although, because of no credible data bases, this number may be much higher. The latest shocker was the withdrawal of R7, 2 billion of the Schools Infrastructure Backlogs Grant (a national programme) by the national treasury due to slow spending. This was announced in the Medium Term Policy Statement (page 43) of the Minister of Finance.
R6, 2 billion was earmarked for the eradication of mud schools in the Eastern Cape. This is a severe blow to the province when it comes to eradicating mud structures schools. Over 400 mud structure schools should have been eradicated by the end of the 2013/14 financial year. This time it was the national department of Basic Education that failed.
At provincial level the Eastern Cape continues its slow under-spend on capital. According to the National Treasury’s second quarter statement of receipts and payments, ended 30 September 2012, the Eastern Cape department of education had spent only 29,4% of its capital budget.
Teachers in government-run schools spend an average of only three-and-a-half hours per day in the class room and absenteeism is rife.
The Eastern Cape Department of Education is simply not achieving. We expected a better pass rate especially in the light of the target of 70 % set by the department. But Winter Schools and the usual programmes will not being the improvements the people of the province seek. That can only be achieved if the department gets its house in order once and for all.