President Jacob Zuma has officially announced that a national task team is going to be created to boost maths and science teaching in South Africa and that the nation must take teaching seriously. Furthermore, Zuma declared that he intends to set up a Presidential Remuneration Commission with a mandate to research and analyze the appropriateness of the remuneration and conditions of service furnished by the state to all its employees.
Zuma’s first priority is teachers and “elevating education to its rightful place” The purpose is to improve the overall quality of learning and teaching coupled with school management. “We want to see an improvement in attitudes, posture and outcomes,” he stated
The president is convinced that working with and in collaboration with educators, parents, the community as well as other stakeholders can lead to schools that can be recognized as “centres of excellence”.
Given the indisputable fact that the current Grade 12 pass rate is exhibiting clears signs of improvement, the Annual National Assessments (ANA) has evolved into a powerful tool for assessing the health of the education system.
“We welcome the improvement each year in the ANA results, but more must be done to improve maths, science and technology.” Zuma is encouraging the private sector to partner government to establish, adopt or sponsor maths and science academies or Saturday schools.
The meaning of essential services
President Zuma stated that he would like to transform the nation’s mind-set towards education and has come to the realization that education is an essential service.
By proclaiming education as an essential service does not, however, remove the constitutional rights of teachers as workers; for instance their right to strike. The aim is to transform the attitudes and perceptions of the education sector and that society must take education a lot more seriously than is currently taking place in the country.
To begin with, at least 98 new schools are going to have to be constructed in the next year replacing more than 40 “mud schools” that currently exist in the Eastern Cape. At the same time, two additional universities will be built, one in the Northern Cape and one in Mpumalanga.
Before the private sector, educators and society can take the President’s good intentions and ambitions seriously, the government and education department ought to lead by example and assume responsibility for their actions.