Min­is­ter of ba­sic in­ep­ti­tude

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

ALONG­SIDE the de­part­ments of Hu­man Set­tle­ments and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the Depart­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion is surely the one that at­tracts the most neg­a­tive head­lines. Th­ese have con­cerned the Lim­popo text­book saga and the flurry of ac­com­pa­ny­ing court or­ders, the en­demic cor­rup­tion, the fee­ble-handed ap- proach to teach­ers’ unions and the some­times inane ut­ter­ances of Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga.

Yet, while Tokyo Sexwale and Dina Pule paid the price this week for lack­lus­tre and con­tro­ver­sial tenures as min­is­ters, when Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma shuf­fled his cabi­net Mot­shekga was spared.

Hers is a depart­ment that stum­bles blindly from one cri­sis to the next, while the ma­jor­ity of pupils are caught up in a mael­strom of poorly re­sourced schools, and a cur­ricu­lum and teach­ing cul­ture which do not come close to equip­ping chil­dren for a post-school life.

While the min­is­ter crowed about the suc­cess of last year’s ma­tric ex­ams, which saw 73.99 per­cent of pupils pass – the high­est since the cur­rent National Se­nior Cer­tifi­cate was in­tro­duced five years ago – there was a grow­ing wave of dis­con­tent at the per­ceived “dumbing down” of the ma­tric qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Crit­ics pointed to the lowly re­quire­ment of 30% needed for a ma­tric pass and said pupils were be­ing set up to fail at ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion level and in the work­place, all for the sake of a high pass rate.

Mot­shekga an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of a com­mit­tee to look into ques­tions about the qual­ity of the ma­tric pass cer­tifi­cate. This an­nounce­ment was made last Oc­to­ber. And as our lead story on page one to­day re­veals, the com­mit­tee has yet to even be­gin its work, with the names of the com­mit­tee mem­bers only set to be gazetted next week, some nine months af­ter the min­is­ter’s ini­tial an­nounce­ment.

It would seem ed­u­ca­tion is all just a num­bers

game, one in which qual­ity takes a back­seat.

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