EE: Mr President's speech was disappointing

By Drum Digital
10 February 2012

The state of the nation address which was delivered last night by President Jacob Zuma disappointed Equal Education (EE), an NGO fighting for the betterment of the education system in South Africa.

In a press statement, the organisation expresses its disappointment at the minimal mention of how the president and the education department are going to address the question of school infrastructure.

“It was disappointing that the President ignored the question of school infrastructure. The 3 600 schools without electricity, and the 395 mud-schools in the Eastern Cape could have been a major thrust of the national infrastructure development and job-creation project. Shocking school infrastructure is crippling education in rural areas,” states EE.

EE was not convinced by the President’s assurance that intervention into Eastern Cape education is on track with all glitches resolved and believe that the long-running problems in the province are likely to recur and a thorough-going national intervention will be needed to build capacity and clean government.

Speaking on behalf of EE, spokesperson Yoliswa Dwane says, “The President doesn’t take leadership in the Eastern Cape because it doesn’t make sense for the EC education department to implement the plans of the national intervention because they are the reason the province is in that mess.”

“The national government has not had the courage of its convictions to carry the intervention through, which has created confusion as to who the accounting officer is, and has resulted in a crippling dispute over who has the power to finalise the teacher post establishment in the province.”

EE also noted an omission by the President when he spoke about teachers against the back drop of his 2011 emphasise on the “Triple Ts” being teachers, textbooks and time.

“This year the all-important questions of teachers and time were mentioned, but textbooks dropped off the list.

The fact that thousands of learners in multiple provinces are currently waiting for textbooks, makes this a notable omission.”

Dwane added that we are not coming any closer to the target we are setting for ourselves in the education department.

“We should do away with operating on the basis that it’s (education) a privilege and not a right,” Dwane says speaking of the dire situations a lot of pupils live under in relation to infrastructure and materials.

The self-assuredness with which the President downplayed the serious problems youth confront in their schools was unfortunate.

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