Our country, compared with other BRICS countries, spends a higher proportion of its GDP on education. This indicates that education has been an ongoing priority of government. Even so, the system continues to be crippled by poor administration; lack of infrastructure; frequent policy and curriculum changes, corrupt tender practices and lowering of standards. The education system in South Africa is in crisis.
In the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, South Africa is ranked 137 out of 139 countries in the quality of maths and science and 125 for the quality of primary school education.
While Section 100 (1) (b) of the Constitution provides for an intervention by the national department, the measure has proved totally inadequate. The national Minister’s intervention in Limpopo has not led to the full delivery of textbooks to learners on time in compliance with the court order.
The Presidential inter-ministerial task team has completed its investigations and why is President Zuma incubating the report? The country needs answers. Clearly he is an uncaring and incapable leader.
In some parts of the Northern Cape learning and teaching has come to a complete standstill because President Zuma failed to fulfil his promise of acting against councillors who manipulated the local government list last year. Everywhere the story is the same: people are fed promises but action never follows.
In any country where the education of that country’s children is severely compromised by long drawn out and avoidable government failure, a minister has to resign or be fired. On what basis is the Minister of Education still in office considering the extent to which she failed to provide strategic and administrative leadership and support? Why should her future be more important than that of the children she and the education system let down?
Let us also ask which of the good practices in educational reforms that she was exposed to in Washington DC, USA last year did she come and implement in our country? What has she done to improve access to quality education? Again and again the Minister has to be hauled to court and forced to do what she ought to be doing in terms of her contract.
The greater hype around ministers signing performance contract appears to have been a public relations exercise with no solid outcomes visible.
The department’s failure to distribute workbooks and textbooks in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape in 2011 must rank as one of the darkest blots on post apartheid South Africa. COPE believes that the eventual nullification of the contract with EduSolutions, a company with political ties, is a diversion.
Even though the Public Finance Management Act was passed in 2007, the department of education in Limpopo did not have any fraud prevention plans and processes that the Act requires. This is in violation of the Act but will this government in paralysis take any action against the offenders?
The dismal failure of leadership means that South Africa is witnessing apartheid in education once again. Under the present government our country has one system of education for the rich catered for by private enterprises.
In spite of many legal challenges to the Minister she flatly refuses to set norms and standards for infrastructure. No wonder our 24 460 existing public schools lack such infrastructure as laboratories, libraries and sporting amenities.
Speaker, the Minister is presiding over an education system that is in deep crisis. The majority of people in South Africa have lost confidence in her and if we had a system of recall, she would not be in office. That is the truth of the matter.
COPE is deeply concerned that once again tens of thousands of South Africa’s youth will be failed by the ineptitude of government and therefore demands that the Minister of Basic Education does the honourable thing and resign or be fired. In most countries ministers come and go but here they stay on forever whatever their failures and shortcomings. This is not good for our country.
As I sit down speaker, I wish to ask a question. Do we have a President? If that was the case, this would have been addressed. President Zuma must just go home because he is not doing anything for the country.