The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Basic Education, Nomalungelo Gina, and request that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, be requested to present clear targets for the department’s 5 year turnaround plan which was presented to the portfolio committee yesterday.
While we are pleased that the Minister and her department have made a commitment to “focus on quality and efficiency of education”, these commitments are not reflected in the targets she presented yesterday.
The Minister spoke of a “big, fast” approach, referring to highly-visible, affordable interventions. Eleven “non-negotiables were presented, as was a 100-day plan.
Any excitement was fast dulled when the detailed 5-year targets underpinning the new Medium Term Strategic Framework were presented. These targets are apparently awaiting National Treasury approval, but the Department is quite confident that they are aligned, not only with the National Development Plan, but with the “big, fast” approach.
The DA finds the majority of the figures, on which the targets are based, highly questionable. The Department indicated that they would have to “go back” and check on where they got the numbers.
We know that compliance with the majority of the targets will not be measurable. Further, we find the targets insulting to every child who believes that he is getting a quality education.
The Department presented, inter alia,cedilthe following targets yesterday:
The average hours per year spent by teachers on professional development activities – currently around 39, are to double to 70 by 2019. Teachers are bound by a collective agreement, committing to 80 hours of professional development a year, but this is enforced by no-one. Notwithstanding the fact that teachers are held to be pivotal to the success of education, the Department is aiming within 5 years, to achieve a target of less than the commitment made through the bargaining council.
Percentage of teachers meeting required content knowledge levels after support – from 41% to around 55%. The DA contends that this target should be 100%.
Percentage of learners having access to the required textbooks in all grades and in all subjects in class from 61% to 95% in 2019. This is despite the Minister publicly committing to a textbook for every child in every subject in every grade by 2014.
The Department projects that 50% of Grade R teachers will have the necessary qualifications by 2019. Why is this not 100%? This means that, after five years’ focused attention, half of our Grade R learners will be taught by a qualified professional if Grade R is as important as we know it is, how can this be acceptable?
The Department cannot argue that any higher reach would not be realistic. In effect, although the Minister and the Department’s sentiments in committing to quality education are commendable, there is little that is “big and fast” about the approach. Instead, it is unambitious, SADTU-cautious, and an affront to every learner and to the economy of South Africa that depends so heavily on the outcomes of Minister Motshekga’s efforts.
We call on the Minister and her Department to revise their commitments to reflect a 5-year education turnaround of which all South Africans can be proud.
The DA will continue to fight for the quality education of every learner.
Annette Lovemore, Shadow Minister of Basic Education
Source : Democratic Alliance