An expensive child-minding scheme

2010-02-27 15:37

EVERY country that has succeeded in lifting people out of

poverty has made education its top priority. Despite South Africa’s massive

expenditure on education, however, the results of that ­investment are getting

worse and worse.


Matric results have dropped by 10 percentage points in the past

decade, and more than 50% of learners drop out before they even reach matric.


It is because we need to urgently find solutions to this ­crisis

that the DA this week launched a national education campaign.


We have to ask ourselves a hard question: Are we running an

education system, or the world’s most ­expensive child-minding scheme?


As President Jacob Zuma himself said recently, after 16 years of

democracy we have to stop placing all the blame on apartheid. After all, some

schools even in the poorest communities are getting it right. For example,

Ethembeni Secondary, in one of the poorest areas of Port Elizabeth, has had a

100% matric pass rate for several years running.


If we are to get education right, everyone in the system has to be

“Present, Punctual and Prepared”. This is a simple formula, but it is very

difficult to get right.


Where things go wrong, we have to begin by looking at the basics.

So, what is going on in our classrooms?


Children in good schools get approximately 200 full teaching days a

year. Children in poorly performing schools get less than half of this time.


Here is another shocking statistic: a study found that Sadtu was

responsible for 42% of all work days lost across the ­entire country in all

sectors of the economy since 1995.


Is it any wonder that we have a crisis in education?


Yet Sadtu says they support the goal of a quality education. We

will judge them by their ­response to our interventions to improve the quality

of education for all children in Western Cape, where we govern.


Will Sadtu teachers spend seven hours a day teaching? Will they

prepare lessons and mark work after hours? Will they take responsibility for

­finishing the syllabus in time? Will they acquire strong subject knowledge and

convey it clearly and logically?


We must all ensure this happens, because a good education is the

best affirmative action.


That is why you will rarely find a Sadtu teacher who sends his or

her own children to schools where there is a majority of Sadtu teachers.


My challenge to Sadtu should not be confused with my position on

the profession. Teaching is the most noble profession in the world. Our

excellent teachers at schools across the spectrum are the real heroes of the new

South Africa.


Where the DA governs, we will pioneer a new approach to education

which will bring ­together all role players who are genuinely interested in

quality education, and which will reward excellence and ­ensure accountability.


We are going to bring back inspections in the classroom, where it

really matters, and we are going to measure outcomes. We are going to set

targets for every school based on their best previous results. We are going to

have performance contracts with principals and teachers.


We are going to take officials out of head office and send them out

to support schools in solving their problems.


We are going to employ the right teachers in the right positions,

and we will get rid of the disastrous system of cadre ­deployment. Principals

will lose their posts for consistent failure to deliver.


We will start a new category of school, called the public benefit

school, which will get state funds and greater independence from bureaucratic

control – to apply performance management systems, to reward excellent teachers

and move under-performing educators out of the system.


We will require parents to take responsibility. We will show them

their children’s ­results in independent tests.


Children must take responsibility and stay off drugs.


The DA talks about an open- opportunity society for all. The

biggest opportunity anyone can get is a good education.

 

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