Ideology more important to DoE than quality education – AfriForum

Organisation says Panyaza Lesufi has again attacked Afrikaans education

Lesufi’s remarks prove that ideology is more important to education department than quality education 

21 November 2017

Shortly after the release of the contentious National Education Bill followed a new flood of remarks against Afrikaans education by the Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi. He stated in the past week that there was no more place for single-medium schools in this country (unless, of course, these are English) and that Laerskool Danie Malan would be investigated formally after complaints about too many Afrikaans classes.

According to Carien Bloem, AfriForum’s Project Coordinator for Education, these remarks are indicative of ignorance about the value of mother-tongue education. “It is also clear that quality education offered by schools plays no role whatsoever in the education authorities’ planning, but only the enforcing of national demographics on all terrains – also schools on local level.” 

She attributes the problem of children who cannot be accommodated by the Gauteng schools directly to the non-performance of the MEC and his Department. “The Province already shows a shortage of 195 schools,” Bloem says.

According to the Department of Education, 17 schools have been built over the past two years, while available statistics show that about 120 schools have been closed up to now. “If the Department had rather focused their expenditures on the expansion of infrastructure and the rehabilitation of dysfunctional schools, rather than on playing political games over issues such as the language policies of functional schools, the school placement crisis would have been much smaller,” says Bloem. 

Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum responsible for international relations and language issues, says that education authorities’ increasing discrimination against learners’ language rights and its use of the race card simply to cover their maladministration are issues that AfriForum is currently bringing to the attention of the UN’s Forum for Minority Rights. 

She says that the authorities are following a policy of “admission at all cost” instead of monitoring population growth and developing facilities according to and by taking into account the needs of language communities.

“South Africa is one of the countries with the largest budgets for education. With an estimated 80% of schools being dysfunctional, declining literacy levels, more and more children who cannot be placed, pressure on functional schools to compromise on quality of education by taking in larger classes, and even life-threatening ablution facilities – as the investigation into the death of Michael Komape proves – it is clear that the budget disappears into a bottomless pit as a result of dysfunctionality.”

“We can no longer allow our youth’s future to be stolen while the responsible parties the likes of Lesufi hide behind ideological racial rhetoric. We will call him to account locally as well as before the international community,” Bailey adds. 

Issued by Marelie Greeff, Media Relations Officer, AfriForum, 21 November 2017