SA Education Department trying to defend it reputation once again

South Africa Schools


Once again, the Department of Education is on the defensive and trying to defend its reputation after claim have been lodged that it has failed to deliver on its mandate.

According to reports, the Western Cape based Progressive Principals Association (PPA) is threatening to sue the government and department of education for it failure to deliver on it mandate and tackle the numerous issues and problems in the country’s education system ranging from poor literacy and numeracy skills to delivering learning material.

In a statement released by the education department it states that the government has made progress is a number of areas with an overall improvement in the country’s education system, including the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme, early childhood development and the School Nutrition Programme, among others.

Panyaza Lesufi, the education departments spokesperson, has called on all those individuals who are making baseless claims to check their facts prior to publishing “falsehoods that mislead the public.”

Lesufi cited the ASIDI programme where more than 40 schools have been handed over to communities in the Eastern Cape which created more than 7000 jobs during the building process and spent over of R1.28 billion.

“The programme is largely emphasised in the Eastern Cape but its impact can be felt across the length and breadth of the country. The success story of ASIDI goes far deeper than that of bricks, metal and cement. It tells of a human story of perseverance and triumph,” said Lesufi.

Lesufi also stated that the Early Childhood Development (ECD) has also progressed since 1994 with over 19500 registering for the programme. Not only have the number of children in the ECD increased, so has the quality of the programme according to the department.

According to the department, the School Nutrition Programme now provides quality meals to over nine million learners in over 21 000 schools every school day. At the inception of the food programme, meals were only available to primary schools but this has now been extended to secondary schools. Now all learners are provided with quality meals in contrast to the past where only targeted learners were provided daily meals.

Lesufi reiterated that the School Nutrition Programme has been a massive undertaking of the government and it has also promoted the access, attendance and participation in education for learners from the poorest communities. The goal of the Integrated School Health Programme  was to scale up school health services to reach all learners in the schooling system.

The department of education has also claimed that the increase in the pass rate of matric students in their final exams has increased by 3.7% in 2012. Many involved in the education sector of South Africa feel that this figure were slightly fudged and marks were adjusted.
The education department also claims that it has delivered over 50 million textbooks every year as part of its commitment to improving literacy and numeracy skills of learners. Don’t tell the learners in Limpopo about this. I am positive the learners in the province will have a different opinion to this claim.


Recent research studies and reports

Prior to calling on all those who make “baseless claims”, it is Panyaza Lesufi along with Minister of Education who should read the numerous studies and reports that have been released over the past few months relating to the standards and quality of education in the country.

A research study by Nicholas Spaull from the University of Stellenbosch, indicates that Grade 6 pupils are out-performing their teachers in basic mathematics. Read more…

Or perhaps government and ministers should read the comment by Dr Nick Taylor who has called South Africa’s literacy levels a national catastrophe and a disaster for the country and future economic growth. Read more…

A recent study undertaken by Michèle Stears and Angela James from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has shown that high school matric results are generally a poor indicator of 1st year university performance. In order to improve upon the performance of university students would require that the Department of Basic Education equip high school students with the required skills and competencies as outlined in the department’s policy documents. Students entering university are ill-equipped and do not possess these basic skills and competencies to succeed at university. Read more…

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) also published a damning report on the state of university graduates in the country. The report outlines that the leading cause for the atrocious student performance at university level is primarily due to the inadequate academic performance at school. The report goes on to say that given the current schooling curriculum and systems, there is little hope that the South African schooling system will be adequately be able to prepare matriculants to levels required by higher education institutions in the near future. Read more …

According to the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2013, South Africa is the second worst in world when it comes to mathematics and science and 4th worst when it comes to quality of the educational system. Read more…

Before the government or education department tells any critics to check their facts before making baseless claims, it is the Department of Education and all those responsible for the country’s education system who should read all the research and studies that is being done regarding the state of the country’s education system before claiming victory in the fight to improve literacy and numeracy in our education system.

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