It’s pretty clear to most South Africans that the education system is not what it ought to be. We may have some problems outlining a comprehensive list of what the precise problems in our educational sector are. That’s understandable, it’s a complex problem and our Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga has captured the problems with some interesting phrases. According to her, South Africa’s education system is, – and I rephrase – “a catastrophic national crisis with ‘pockets of disasters”.
As gathered, Motshekga who was delivering a speech at a three-day educational gathering attended by education MECs and department heads, reportedly read the official act to her officials and teachers’ union.
While Motshekga called for a paradigm shift in the learning sector to usher in a new era of “doing efficiently all that needs to be done,” she reminded the gathering of a 1994 vow to “create a single national education system that delivers quality education to all.” And as well, condemned teachers who are hardly found in class naming them “elephants in the room”.
Other “elephants in the room” according to Motshekga include the lack of basic learning infrastructure, and provincial departments that steadily fail to manage their provinces properly.
“We must consider the lack of sanitation in schools as an affront to our children’s inherent right to dignity. Let me be clear, unless we can get the basics right, we can forget about improving the matric pass rate, let alone the issue of improving numeracy and literacy among our learners,” the basic Education Minister stated.
Motshekga further described the mass failure recorded in the matric at Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal as a national catastrophe. According to her, If one learner fails, it is a challenge. If two fail, it’s a problem. But when “25% of a cohort fails, then we must have sleepless nights, as this is akin to a national crisis.”
Adding that it’s ideal for under-performing principals and district officials to be relieved of their duties with immediate effect, Motshekga lamented that the case is different as under-performing servants are being promoted to the provincial education department head office as specialists.
“We allow mediocrity to spread like cancer to the highest echelons of the basic education system, thereby threatening the very foundation of the system,” she wailed.