South Africa: DA Submits Paia Application for 2014 Needu Report

The Democratic Alliance has today submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application for the original 2014 report of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU).[i]

The original 2014 NEEDU report was completed in June 2015, but is yet to see the light of day.

The DA believes that the original 2014 NEEDU report is being kept out of the public domain because it contains damning evidence regarding the mismanagement of our education system.

Even worse, we have reason to suspect that the Department of Basic Education may be in the process of sanitising the report.

Indeed, Minister Motshekga’s office admitted in a press release on Thursday that her Department is in the process of changing the original report. The press release stated:

“NEEDU received inputs from the Department in February 2016. After considering these inputs carefully, there was a need for further analysis of data to provide evidence on the claims and conclusions that the report was making and to collect additional data to close the gaps that were identified in the report.”

Fears that the Minister may attempt to sanitise the original 2014 NEEDU report have escalated with the publication of a recent e-mail authored by NEEDU’s Acting CEO, Dr Sibusiso Sithole.

In the e-mail, Dr Sithole indicates that Minister Motshekga was unhappy with NEEDU’s previous reports (2012 and 2013), noting that the Minister had “raised some concerns” with regards to the manner that “certain issues were handled in the past.” Furthermore, he revealed that Minister Motshekga told NEEDU to stop focusing on “what is wrong in the system.”

Dr Sithole went on to infer that, as a result of these issues, Minister Motshekga wanted NEEDU to be “closer” to the Department. According to Dr Sithole, Minister Motshekga said: “Keep it independent, but keep it closer.”

To guard against the sanitisation of the 2014 report, the DA has requested access to the original report submitted to the Department of Basic Education so that we can check it against the final report (if and when it is released).

It is important to know what is going wrong in our education system so that it can be fixed. The delay in the publication of the 2014 NEEDU report, coupled with ministerial murmurings about NEEDU’s independence, is therefore cause for serious concern.

NEEDU is an independent body that must be protected from political and bureaucratic meddling. We will keep pushing for safeguards to NEEDU’s independence, as well as the release of the full and unexpurgated 2014 NEEDU report.

Source: Democratic Alliance.