Our schools are a scandal
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.