Education system a catastrophe – Vavi

2011-09-28 12:48

South Africa’s education system is a “catastrophe”, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said today.

“Our education system is in a crisis. In fact, calling it a crisis is an understatement. This is a catastrophe,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery in East London.

“Every day children of the working class and the poor are being condemned into a deep black hole with minimal chances of escape,” he told an SA Democratic Teachers’ Union congress.

Apartheid fault lines remained “stubbornly in place”.

Children of the poor still received inferior education despite significant progress in some aspects of the South African schooling system.

Of pupils who enrolled in grade one in 1998, 64% dropped out before reaching matric, Vavi said. Of those who wrote the matric exams, just over 60% passed.

“The rest are left with no qualifications and, given the current rate of unemployment, this simply means no jobs, no hope and no future.”

He quoted a 2008 National Planning Commission report stating that the average teacher scored lower than the minimal level of understanding expected from their pupils in the subjects they taught.

Vavi called on the government to conscientiously upgrade and retrain teachers.

“We must oppose government policy in areas where we feel that it places working-class livelihoods and wellbeing at stake. If we are labelled oppositionist because of this role, then this is a label we should wear with pride.”

Vavi said teachers who consistently worked to improve the lives of their students and mould their understanding should be saluted.

He called on the teacher union to root out corruption and mismanagement that contributed to the poor condition of many schools, particularly in the Eastern Cape.

“Let us again emphasise that if we don’t reverse this situation, then for many, liberation will be without value,” Vavi said.

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