ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised education in South Africa, saying schools were performing below par and were not meeting the “requirements for a growing and thriving economy”.
This comment, made in a prepared speech for delivery at a Salvation Army gala dinner in Joburg this week comes two weeks after President Jacob Zuma told journalists that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was “doing very well”.
Lately, Motshekga has come under fire for failing to publish norms and standards for schools.
The president of the ANC Women’s League and a staunch supporter of Zuma has also been criticised as a result of the failure of her department to deliver books on time in Limpopo. The provincial departments of education in Limpopo and Eastern Cape are also under administration.
Zuma had told journalists at a briefing of the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on June 24: “I think the education minister is doing very well. She has a very clear understanding of the job she must do. Education up to 1994 was a mess. For anyone to think we could correct everything in 19 years, well, those are funny views in my view.”
He said she was working around the clock to turn around the ailing department.
But Ramaphosa didn’t have kind words for the country’s education system. He said all the energy that has been directed to education has not produced the desired results. “We have done much to improve access to education for all, including the poorest … However, the progress we have seen in access has not been matched by similar progress in educational outcomes.
“Our schools are performing far below their peers in countries at a similar level of development, and are certainly not meeting the requirements for a growing and thriving economy.”
It was for this reason, he said, that government has placed education at the centre of its programme, and why it is a key pillar of the National Development Plan.
Ramaphosa called for all teachers, principals, deputy principals and education officials to be assessed and evaluated with the intention of improving their skills and accountability. The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union has resisted this call.
“It is necessary to improve strategic-planning capacity in schools and develop the managerial skills of those responsible for running schools. There needs to be a massive effort to capacitate educators to ensure they have the means and confidence to teach the curriculum,” he said.
Ramaphosa said there was a need for rigorous monitoring and evaluation of performances across the sector. “In many senses, this requires a concentrated focus on the basics.”
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