ID laments state of basic education
Cape Town - The Independent Democrats on Tuesday accused government of "refusing" to address some of the most glaring and rectifiable problems in South African education.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on President Jacob Zuma's state of the nation address, ID parliamentary leader Joe Mcgluwa said Zuma had often claimed that education was one of the central pillars of his administration.
"You have devoted massive resources to it and have mentioned its importance in many of your major addresses of state.
"And yet, despite this rhetoric and the welcome admissions of fault from your basic education minister, your government has mostly refused to address some of the most glaring and indeed rectifiable problems in South African education today," he said.
It was still largely the case that apart from the isolated instances of children who excelled in poorer communities, there still remained a huge inequality in education.
"If you are child from a poor home, it is almost guaranteed that you will receive an inferior education than those from wealthier communities."
There were still thousands of children who walked long distances to schools in rural areas, and many schools without basic library facilities.
"Teachers still strike and organise union meetings during class hours," Mcgluwa said.
The Eastern Cape, particularly, evinced major problems.
Among other things, the Eastern Cape education department overspent by R624.5m on compensation of employees at the end of September 2010.
It was projected that over-expenditure on compensation of employees for the whole financial year would be a staggering R1.952bn.
A total of R17.372bn was budgeted for personnel spending which represented 76.6% of the total budget for the department of R22.680bn for the 2010-11 financial year.
"One of the main reasons for the over expenditure was irregular salary increases given to office based educators in 2009, which has pushed up the average employee cost," he said.
The provincial education department recently terminated more than 4 000 temporary teachers' contracts because of a financial crisis.
It had also suspended its pupil transport programme due to financial constraints.
"Mr President, your rhetorical commitments are commendable but what we and our students need now is action.
"We urge you to translate this year’s pledges into measurable action for the sake of our country’s future," Mcgluwa said.