Zuma's ANC not serious about education - Annette Lovemore

DA MP says dept's strategic plan for 2014/15 is vague and non-committal

DBE plan for 2014/15 shows Zuma's ANC not serious about education 

The Democratic Alliance is disappointed by the vague and non-committal 2014/15 strategic plan of the Department of Basic Education. According to the plan, Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, and her ex-Director-General, Bobby Soobrayan, have failed to set targets for learner outcomes and for almost every measure of education excellence on which she has been found wanting in the past.  

There are no targets set for:

  • Percentage of schools with a very basic level of school infrastructure;
  • Percentage of schools having access to library information service;
  • Percentage of learners with a textbook for each subject;
  • Percentage of Grade 3 learners performing at the required numeracy and literacy levels;
  • Percentage of Grade 6 learners performing at the required mathematics and language levels;
  • Percentage of Grade 9 learners performing at the required mathematics and language levels;
  • Number of Grade 12 learners passing mathematics;
  • Number of Grade 12 learners passing physical science; 
  • Number of Grade 12 learners who become eligible for a Bachelors programme at university;
  • Teacher:learner ratio, or the number of learners in classes of an acceptable defined size;
  • Teacher professional development - hours spent in quality training or mentorship interactions;
  • Teacher competence assessments; and
  • Teacher absenteeism.

Targets for the number of satisfactorily-performing district offices and the level of functionality of school governing bodies have also disappeared, in addition to targets for the implementation of e-learning.

Furthermore, there is no mention of special educational needs, nor multi-grade teaching when a quarter of our learners are in multi-grade environments. This is both disgraceful and inexcusable. 

A number of new interventions are described. However, they are:

So vague that no accountability for non-performance can be exercised (for example: "The culture of reading will be entrenched", and "Psychosocial support for learners and teachers will be strengthened"); 

Couched in a "we will try" statement, in order to avoid accountability (for example:  "The Department is committed to providing safe drinking water, sufficient hygienic toilet facilities and electricity, and for all inappropriate structures to be eradicated by 2014/2015.");  

Targeted so low as to be unlikely to make any meaningful difference (for example: 30 officials from districts performing below 65% to be mentored - there are 10 such districts, and only 3 officials from each district (on average) will receive direct support); or

Simply repeats of unachieved targets from 2013/14, with no explanation of why success was not achieved last year and what will be done differently to ensure success this year (for example: "In 2014, the Department will develop a supply and demand model to incorporate information about teacher recruitment, attrition, exit, utilisation and migration to inform planning and resourcing of the teaching workforce especially in areas of skills shortage, and to inform a comprehensive national strategy for human resources in the basic education sector that will be finalised in the medium term.").

The only target based on education outcomes that the Minister has committed to is the matric pass rate. However, the Minister aims for a 75% pass rate this year, 76% next year and 77% in 2016. The pass rate reported in 2013 was 78.3%. Her targets are lower than what has been achieved. Is this in order that she, or her successor, can be assured of success? We have no interest in a tick-box exercise; our concern lies with the education and future of our children. Aiming low, and achieving the mark, is contrary to commitment to the excellence they are owed.

The DA will further study the Performance Plan for 2014/15, and will release further public comment. We will question every omission and every aspect of concern. We encourage every concerned South African to do the same.

The omissions listed above are indefensible. 

Every South African realises the critical importance of quality education. Every South African has been outraged by children learning in crumbling mud schools and children struggling without textbooks. 

Zuma's ANC is not committed to improving education in South Africa. South Africans have the opportunity to make education a priority in our country by voting DA on 7 May. 

Statement issued by Annette Lovemore MP, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, April 7 2014

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