STATE EDUCATION IN SA AWORK IN PROGRESS
By: Sizwe Mchunu
Twenty years into South Africa’s democracy and yet the state of our countries education still remains a sore subject to many South Africans.
Teachers are the cornerstone of all education and it stands to reason that the quality of education provided to children cannot exceed the quality of the teaching offered
According to South Africa’s bill of right all citizens have a right to access education but access to education does not always guarantee that students will attend school or that they will successfully navigate their way towards matric.
In 2001, 1.2 million students enrolled to grade one but only 44 per cent stayed long enough in the system to take their National Senior certificate. During an interview with the circuit manager of education in the Umlazi district, Nomusa Shamase, highlighted the challenges that are faced by the teachers and students with regards to the standard of education in schools.
“If you are looking at the number of students that writing their matric exams (final exams) and the number of students who pass their final exam then you can say yes there is an improvement in the quality of education but on the other hand if you look at the number of students that entered school twelve years before and you compare the number of students that did not drop out, then you will see little or no improvement” Shamase stated.
In the same way that teachers should be held accountable by the parents, so too must the parents be held accountable by the teachers so that learning takes place at home.
A different view however was held by the youth when it came to the role that the teachers plaayed in preparing them for their future and the general quality of their education. Nosihle Dlamini a student at Buhlebemfundo High
School lamented how educators would attend their class for short periods of time and then would disappear for weeks on end, “The teacher’s show up late for class and when they show up, the teachers only concern themselves with feeding the students with information but dont help us to understand the work”.
Although the state provides a vast budget for education in our country, it is sometimes difficult for the money to find its way to the areas where where it is need the most, due to mal-administration and misappropriation of funds.
A report published Lee Rusznyak, a Senior lecturerat the university of Wits found that poor rural children in South Africa would have a better chance of performance well in a school than in similar circumstances in Lesotho, Namibia or Uganda, countries much worse off than South Africai in terms of education.
It is difficult however to diagnose the disease which plagues South Africa’s education, as government spends roughly 20 per cent of its annual budget on education.
In a separate interview with Sihle Mlambo, Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni stated that the government was accountable for pupils’ results and that failure was not an option.
Nkonyeni said the support of the teachers’ unions – the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), the National Teachers Union (NATU) and National Professional Teachers Organization of SA (NAPTOSA) was a crucial component of the programmes’s success.
“We are very pleased to be working with the unions along with business and civil society to ensure that the future leaders… achieve their potential,” she said.