ANC’s ‘Bantu Education Certificate’ must be scrapped - Mmusi Maimane

BOSA leader says GETC limits young, mainly black South Africans to either low skilled jobs or unemployment

ANC’s “Bantu Education Certificate” must be scrapped, says Maimane

16 April 2024

Providing a competitive, quality and affordable education that equips every young South African for a future economy is at the centre of Build One South Africa’s (BOSA) agenda. This focuses on preparing young people to add value to the marketplace and contribute to the economic and social needs of the country.

However, the ANC government is hellbent on doing the very opposite. Today I wish to address the newly introduced General Education and Training Certificate (GETC), which will allow learners to exit school at Grade 9 and be recognised within the National Qualifications Framework under skills level 1.

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, confirmed that the certificate was introduced at 1 000 schools across all nine provinces last year.  

It is BOSA’s view that Hendrik Verwoerd would be proud of this certificate. As the architect of Bantu Education during Apartheid, Verwoerd believed that an African child should not be educated past a certain basic threshold because there was no need for a skilled black labour force.

Today, the ANC government is – in effect - determined to mirror this policy through its “Bantu Education Certificate”. It limits young, mainly black South Africans to either low skilled jobs or unemployment.

Instead, we need to make sure more learners finish matric and do so with high quality grades and with proficiency in science and mathematics. Going to TVETS without a full grasp of the subject matter will not help young people obtain technical qualifications and skills the economy requires.

This ”Bantu Education Certificate” is also a sinister attempt by the ANC government to erase its sky-high school dropout problem by issuing a new certificate at the grade 9 stage. It must be stopped immediately.

We face a critical shortage of skills, and our performance in human skills development is underwhelming. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index ranks South Africa as follows:

- On skills of the current workforce - 101/141

- On skills of the future workforce - 107/141

- On quality of vocational training - 119/141

We must address this crisis to meet the demands of the competitive and evolving job market. And an early exit option from school for grade 9 learners will not do the trick.

Government should instead be focused on fixing what is broken in our public education system. Lack of resources and infrastructure, low standards and a weak curriculum, pit toilets, crowded classrooms, unaccountable and under-equipped teachers, and textbook shortages.

When in government, BOSA will introduce a school voucher programme that returns the power to decide which school a child goes back to the learner’s parents. Parents have the most vested interest in the long-term education of their child. Parents care enough to conduct sensible due diligence which will unearth key information related to the performance of nearby schools.

This voucher, estimated at R15 000 per annum (based on the current government cost to educate each child), should be awarded directly to parents who will be given a choice as to whether to use it for payment at a nearby public school or, to add some of their own capital to the voucher in order to take their children to a private or semi-private school.

If paired with a radically increased public infrastructure investment programme in public schools that attract more children as a result of the voucher system, bad schools will run out of business while good schools will be enlarged and recapitalized.

In addition, BOSA will work to advocate for pressing issues that include:

- Dropping the 30% pass mark for subjects

- Introducing an independent education ombudsman

- Incentivizing students during the academic year

- Implementing tighter security at all schools

- Expanding extended programmes for underperforming learners

- Reprioritizing budget for digital learning and infrastructure

- Higher pay for performing teachers

- A nationwide skills audit for educators

- Addressing the disproportionate power trade unions wield over teachers and the functioning of the education system.

These interventions, grounded in accountability, transparency, and excellence, are crucial steps toward rescuing our education system. It is only when we create an environment where every South African child has equitable access to quality education, that we pave the way for a prosperous and thriving nation.

In the interests of the 24 000 schools under its supervision and with 13 million learners in the system, the DBE must scrap this “Bantu Education Certificate”.

Issued by Roger Solomons, BOSA Spokesperson, 16 April 2024