CityPress - - Voices - Khume Ra­mulifho voices@city­press.co.za

The Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan, which the ANC only ever speaks about and has failed to im­ple­ment, ex­pects us to en­sure that be­tween 80% and 90% of pupils com­plete 12 years of school­ing and/or vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion, with at least 80% suc­cess­fully pass­ing the exit exams.

The vast num­ber of learn­ers who drop out at the pri­mary and sec­ondary lev­els is a sign of a poor ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, and a ma­jor con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the coun­try’s youth un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis.

De­spite the state’s con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tion to pro­vide and fund ed­u­ca­tion for the poor, the path from Grade 1 to ma­tric is fast becoming a road less trav­elled. This means more un­em­ploy­ment and un­skilled youth who are trapped in poverty. About 2.7 mil­lion young peo­ple in Gaut­eng have noth­ing to do. They can’t find or cre­ate jobs. They are de­scribed as be­ing not in ed­u­ca­tion, em­ploy­ment or train­ing, sim­ply put, a “lost gen­er­a­tion” aban­doned by an un­car­ing ANC gov­ern­ment that has skewed pri­or­i­ties.

Ed­u­ca­tion re­mains one of the most pow­er­ful weapons in the fight against poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and inequal­ity. With that in mind, the ques­tion I pose to the Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion MEC, Panyaza Le­sufi, is whether the bud­get he tabled this week is de­signed to guar­an­tee that a child of Gaut­eng is not only skilled and knowl­edge­able at the end of their 12-year jour­ney, but is also able to con­trib­ute to the econ­omy and build their com­mu­nity. I be­lieve the an­swer is no.

Young peo­ple are not en­gaged in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and are now join­ing so­cial de­vel­op­ment queues, in­stead of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment queues.

Since the Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment does not have a plan for the youth, it’s im­por­tant that we re­flect on the DA’s Res­cue Plan for the Lost Gen­er­a­tion. The plan seeks to en­sure that young peo­ple not only com­plete their school­ing and gain skills, but also seeks to en­sure that there is an econ­omy in which they are able to par­tic­i­pate.

In short, the first part of the plan is about skills for jobs, and, among other things, has as an ob­jec­tive the cre­ation of bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and in­tern­ship pro­grammes; it also em­pha­sises the need to rein­tro­duce teacher train­ing col­leges which the ANC gov­ern­ment dis­banded.

The se­cond part of the plan highlights en­sur­ing rapid growth that cre­ates jobs for those who have com­pleted their train­ing or ed­u­ca­tion.

It is time to ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions and take de­lib­er­ate ac­tion.

Is our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem po­si­tioned to pro­duce skills needed by an evolv­ing mod­ern econ­omy? If so, why aren’t we get­ting the pos­i­tive re­sults? Why are these young peo­ple leav­ing schools and join­ing the poverty queue? Are lead­ers con­cerned about this trend? If they are, what are they do­ing to im­prove the learn­ing and teach­ing en­vi­ron­ment?

The DA is of the strong view that the Gaut­eng ed­u­ca­tion bud­get doesn’t pro­mote high stan­dards in pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion to pro­duce the great­est va­ri­ety of tech­ni­cal skills, to fuel a skills-hun­gry knowl­edge econ­omy.

It should deeply con­cern all res­i­dents of Gaut­eng that Le­sufi doesn’t know how many maths and sci­ence teach­ers there are in our schools teach­ing these sub­jects, de­spite the fact that these are scarce skills sub­jects which should em­power the youth.

There are more than 29 schools built us­ing as­bestos. These schools should have been re­built by the end of Novem­ber 2016, yet here we are in the mid­dle of 2017, and our learn­ers are still sub­jected to the dan­gers of as­bestos.

The ques­tion is: What are the ANC and MEC Le­sufi do­ing to bet­ter the lives of the youth in Gaut­eng? The MEC is good at pub­lic re­la­tions but fails when it comes to the ac­tual work of de­liv­er­ing a func­tional ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

The big­gest prob­lem is not lack of money but lack of ca­pac­ity to spend the bud­get. There is no doubt that in­vest­ment in school in­fra­struc­ture will grow the econ­omy and im­prove learn­ing and teach­ing con­di­tions. But the ANC, in ca­hoots with the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers’ Union, has no in­ter­est in this. Last year, R3 bil­lion was set aside for school in­fra­struc­ture, but it wasn’t spent.

Poor plan­ning, a lack of project man­age­ment and po­lit­i­cal will are char­ac­ter­is­tics of poor ser­vice de­liv­ery. It is im­proper and un­con­sti­tu­tional to have schools with­out ba­sic ser­vices such as wa­ter, elec­tric­ity and san­i­ta­tion.

Look at where these schools with no ac­cess are – in poor ar­eas where gov­ern­ment sup­port is most needed.

If the par­ents of learn­ers at Goza Pri­mary School in Free­dom Park had ac­cess to wealth, would they sub­ject their chil­dren to in­hu­mane and un­hy­gienic con­di­tions at the school? The an­swer is no, but they have no choice.

Ul­ti­mately, Le­sufi is not do­ing as good a job as he por­trays in the me­dia. Learn­ers of Gaut­eng are suf­fer­ing. He is not the man to bring about change, and nor is the ANC the party that will pri­ori­tise the ed­u­ca­tion of the prov­ince’s youth.

TALK TO US Is MEC Panyaza Le­sufi do­ing a good job, or is he just good at pub­lic re­la­tions?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word NUM­BERS and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50

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