Education must serve parents and children better
Parents have a right to choose the kind of education that they want for their children.
While it is the responsibility of the government to provide education, independent schools are helping the government to fulfil its moral and constitutional responsibility of educating the nation.
When one compares pros and cons of public and private education, it is clear that both have their strong points, as well as relative weak ones.
That is why, whatever the arguments, the public-versusprivate debate never ends. Hence, the Gauteng department of education has identified a myriad issues that affect public and independent schools and has held a summit in Midrand to discuss issues affecting independent schools.
Given the decrepit condition of some of the public schools across the country, it is not surprising parents want to ensure their children end up at one of the more prestigious private schools.
In private schools, parents have better options for their children, and who can blame them for choosing the best for their children.
Fortunately, in the past 23 years the government expenditure in public schools has done much to redress the lack of resources.
The provincial department is investing heavily in school infrastructure by opening 13 new schools, one a month, since the start of last year. Together with the department of infrastructure (in the province) I committed last year to open a modern school every month until 2019.
Despite independent schools’ contribution to the education of our nation, the department in the province has over the past few years received complaints ranging from independent schools operating illegal, non-compliance with municipal by-laws, nonpayment of Unemployment Insurance Fund, failure to apply for accreditation, employment of educators with no required teaching qualifications and expulsion of learners without following correct procedures.
It has since emerged that the issue of non-compliance with policies is high.
Therefore, some of the questions that will guide the discussion include: what kind of policies are independent schools required to comply with; what role could the provincial department and associations of independent schools play to ensure that schools comply with enacted policies?
Independent schools, like public schools, have to comply with the constitution of the country and the education policy to, among others, respect and promote the rights of the children.
Are we doing enough to contribute positively in promoting social cohesion? Are we playing a significant role in promoting nonracialism in our schools? Is the environment conducive to teaching and learning? If the answer is no, then the summit should assist us to understand the situation better.
The collaboration between government and private, independent and public schools is a priority for our country. After all, our status as an economic power in Africa and around the world depends on our ability to do better for our learners.