Our schools are a scan­dal


Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

IN RE­PLY to Helen Zille’s ar­ti­cle “Why I am back­ing Mot­shekga” (Week­end Ar­gus, July 20), politi­cians and of­fi­cials are ac­count­able to the peo­ple they serve.

South Africa has a his­tory of suc­ces­sive il­le­git­i­mate and le­git­i­mate gov­ern­ments that have pro­tected politi­cians and se­nior of­fi­cials who do not do their jobs. The of­fi­cials lower down have to bear the brunt of so­ci­ety’s dis­sat­is­fac­tion.

I can men­tion ex­am­ples ad nau­seam, and the most re­cent in­volves the ANC and the DA clos­ing more than 2 000 schools since 2000. No politi­cian has ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for this blun­der. The Western Cape Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment (WCED) is pre­pared to waste tax­pay­ers’ money de­fend­ing its ir­ra­tional de­ci­sions on school clo­sures.

Helen Zille was called upon to stop clos­ing schools but she in­di­cated that she would not tol­er­ate op­po­si­tion (much like Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga).

Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Don­ald Grant and head of ed­u­ca­tion Penny Vin­jevold are not be­ing held re­spon­si­ble.

It comes as no sur­prise that Zille sup­ports Mot­shekga. In a ra­dio in­ter­view, Mot­shekga was asked whether she sup­ported the WCED in build­ing new class­rooms at for­mer Model C schools. She was af­fir­ma­tive in her an­swer, ar­gu­ing that th­ese schools pro­duced good aca­demic work and should be able to ac­com­mo­date more pupils.

Zille ar­gues that ed­u­ca­tion is a provin­cial com­pe­tency. She brags about the fact that only in the Western Cape will all chil­dren have a good text­book in ev­ery sub­ject by next year. Is this some­thing to be proud of ? As ed­u­ca­tion­ists it is our duty to be con­cerned about ev­ery child in the coun­try. The high and mighty re­sponse from provin­cial politi­cians will not achieve this.

The man­ner in which Mot­shekga has treated Equal Ed­u­ca­tion is an in­di­ca­tion that she is not pre­pared to with­stand op­po­si­tion.

Most poor schools have not re­ceived sched­uled main­te­nance, such as paint­ing, since 1993. Most lack ba­sic in­fra­struc­ture. It is not un­usual to find that schools for the poor which have ex­isted for 50-plus years still have pre­fab­ri­cated or mo­bile units.

How long must poor schools wait? An­other 50 years? I do not agree with Zille that it is im­pos­si­ble to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of poor stu­dents. Here I see a sim­i­lar­ity in Zille and Mot­shekga’s think­ing: The poor can wait.

Mot­shekga must have her fin­ger on the pulse of ed­u­ca­tion. She has a whole bu­reau­cracy of politi­cians and of­fi­cials work­ing for her.

Surely she must in­ter­vene when stu­dents do not re­ceive text­books or if there are so-called ex­cess teach­ers “dou­ble-parked” at schools in the Eastern Cape. Surely she should stand up to teacher unions that take de­ci­sions that are not in the in­ter­ests of stu­dents.

Zille was MEC for Ed­u­ca­tion when teach­ers were strug­gling to come to grips with the il­log­i­cal phi­los­o­phy of out­comes-based ed­u­ca­tion. Be­sides lis­ten­ing to the com­plaints of teach­ers she did noth­ing to get rid of OBE.

Mot­shekga and Zille miss the point. Cur­ricu­lum As­sess­ment Pol­icy State­ments (Caps), or, as some ed­u­ca­tion ac­tivists have coined it, Con­tin­u­ing Anti-Ped­a­gog­i­cal Syn­drome, still con­tains the heart of OBE – as­sess­ment.

Teach­ers are still be­ing forced to as­sess ev­ery­thing, which bor­ders on triv­i­al­ity. It does not al­low the teacher to spend qual­ity time teach­ing. Why does the govern­ment not ad­mit that OBE did not work and was a tragic fail­ure? Then per­haps our ed­u­ca­tion would im­prove tremen­dously.

Blun­der­ing politi­cians like Mot­shekga and Grant must go. WESTERN Cape Pre­mier Helen Zille’s ar­ti­cle “Why I am back­ing Mot­shekga” was about how the ef­forts of Mot­shekga to turn round our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, par­tic­u­larly in town­ship schools, have been largely thwarted by the de­struc­tive po­si­tion adopted by the SA Demo­cratic Teach­ers Union (Sadtu) and provin­cial ad­min­is­tra­tions over­spend­ing on far too many teach­ers.

There can’t be any union that has be­haved in a more un­demo­cratic man­ner. The an­swer? Well, Amcu is demon­strat­ing it in the min­ing in­dus­try. So who is pre­pared to start a ri­val?

It was mag­nif­i­cent of Zille to take the time and ef­fort to tell us the truth about Mot­shekga, an ANC min­is­ter af­ter all.

What a demon­stra­tion of good­will to­wards the legacy of Nel­son Man­dela that Zille was able to write such an ar­ti­cle about an ANC min­is­ter, most likely with­out a sec­ond thought, only the truth be­ing of con­cern to her.

Com­pare this ar­ti­cle with the ac­tiv­i­ties of the ANC leader in the Western Cape, Mar­ius Frans­man, and the Cosatu leader in the prov­ince, Tony Ehren­re­ich, whose ma­jor in­ter­est is to make the Western Cape un­govern­able. What can pos­si­bly be more of a be­trayal of Man­dela’s legacy?

Do they re­ally be­lieve peo­ple don’t no­tice? We’ll see at the next elec­tion.

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