Minister of basic ineptitude
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.