Ed­u­ca­tion must serve par­ents and chil­dren bet­ter

Sowetan - - News - Panyaza Le­sufi ■ Le­sufi is Gaut­eng MEC for ed­u­ca­tion

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.

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