Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has called for “perspective” on the role and effectiveness of her department in a “massive” sector.But the people of South Africa don’t need perspective. They need an apology from a Minister whose department has failed to deliver on the most basic aspects of its mandate.
At a press briefing yesterday, Minister Motshekga proudly assured the public that her department would meet the 15 June deadline for the delivery of textbooks in Limpopo.
This is hardly a victory. That a court of law had to direct the department to do its job, and stop violating learners’ human rights, is no achievement.
If she cannot admit to her department’s mistakes, Minister Motshekga virtually ensures that they will be repeated again. Learners cannot be allowed to face the same chaos again.
I will be submitting questions to Minister Motshekga to determine what steps she is taking to prevent a repeat of the crisis that has unfolded in provincial education departments.
Signs are that another year of chaos is on the cards.
A report by the National Council of Provinces Select Committee on Finance indicates that systemic problems, such as dysfunctional administrative systems and delays in paying service providers, that led to this year’s Limpopo education crisis have not yet been resolved. This increases the chance of chaos in the provincial education system continuing into next year.
In taking measures to prevent this from happening, Minister Motshekga should learn from systems that have been successfully implemented in the Western Cape, particularly regarding text book rollout.
The Western Cape exceeded the national norm for textbook provision in the 2011/12 financial year.
Successful interventions included:
Negotiating excellent prices with publishers, resulting in savings which will be used to purchase additional textbooks for the schools.
Developing a new system for ordering textbooks online, making it quick and easy for orders to be placed.
Steps to tackle human resourcing issues such as frequent publication of vacancy lists, an online application system for Principal posts and a revised process for the appointment of school support staff.
Basic education is a fundamental human right. It is the means through which our youth will have the opportunity to realise their full potential and find jobs. The Minister must ensure that her department learns from its mistakes, and takes the steps necessary to ensure quality education is delivered to all our children.